Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Marist Poll: 65% Say Bloomberg Is A Disaster For Schools

The Mayor of Money continues his plummeting toward George W. Bush levels of approval and popularity overall in the latest Marist poll:

The high approval ratings once enjoyed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg are, for now, a thing of the past. According to this NY1-Marist Poll, Mayor Bloomberg’s job approval rating among registered voters citywide is 40%. This includes 9% who believe the mayor is doing an excellent job in office and 31% who say he is doing a good one. About four in ten voters — 38% — rate Bloomberg’s job performance as fair while 21% view it as poor. Only 1% is unsure.

The overall approval number is down from 44% in February. On schools, his numbers are much, much worse:

65% of registered voters in New York City disapprove of how Mayor Bloomberg is handling the city’s public schools while just 27% approve. Eight percent are unsure.

What a difference a third term makes. When Marist last asked this question in July 2009, a majority — 53% — approved of how Bloomberg was doing while 38% disapproved. Nine percent, then, were unsure.

67% of voters with children in the city’s public schools disapprove of how Bloomberg is handling the schools while 29% approve. Just 3% are unsure

Marist also asked why New Yorkers think Bloomberg wants to end tenure and seniority protections for teachers:

When it comes to laying off teachers, Mayor Bloomberg opposes “last in, first out.” However, is his desire to end tenure based more upon an attempt to gain greater control over the public schools or to close the city’s budget deficit? Half of New York City adults — 50% — think it’s a control issue while 38% say it’s for budgetary purposes. 12% are unsure.

Among parents with children in the New York City public schools, nearly six in ten — 57% — think Bloomberg wants this rule changed because he wants greater control over schools while 34% say it is based upon his desire to close the city’s budget deficit. Eight percent are unsure.

On the budget, New Yorkers disapprove of Bloomberg's performance pretty heftily as well:

Mayor Bloomberg’s financial ability was at the core of his third term re-election campaign. However, voters view Bloomberg as falling short. A majority — 56% — disapprove of how Bloomberg is handling the city’s budget compared with 38% who approve. Six percent are unsure.

Views toward Bloomberg’s handling of the budget have steeply declined. When Marist reported this question in July 2009, 49% approved of his fiscal management while 41% disapproved. 10%, at the time, were unsure.

This poll shows just how unpopular Bloomberg and his policies are - especially the school policies.

People aren't buying his budget jive on the layoffs.

While the poll shows New Yorkers are not overly sympathetic toward the teachers union, it also shows they understand that the layoff threat is more about control then it is about the budget deficit.

No wonder Bloomberg is spending two million dollars on campaign-style ads to revive his political brand and personal popularity.

People are seeing through his horseshit.

You can be sure that Bloomberg's people regularly poll on these issues and they know exactly where he is heading on this stuff - right into the toilet.

We'll see if the $2 million in ads changes these numbers.

I don't think it will.

People have made up their minds on this man and while he is not reviled the way Giuliani was reviled in this city pre-9/11 (with many teachers and parents of school children perhaps the exception to that), people are just done with this guy, they no longer like the job he is doing or like him and they just want him to go away and take Cathie Black, Howard Wolfson and the bike lanes with him.

More From Paul Allen On Bill Gates

Bill Gates comes across as a scumbag and a weirdo in these excerpts - pretty much the same guy we have come to know and hate at the helm of the Gates Foundation:

Throughout the Vanity Fair piece, Allen paints Gates as a wolf of a negotiator, tireless automaton of a programmer and passionate but arrogant leader. Allen describes himself as logical and rational. The magazine dubs them The Odd Couple.


Allen wrote that Gates, at age 13, showed him a copy of Fortune magazine and asked, "What do you think it's like to run a Fortune 500 company? ... Maybe we'll have our own company someday."

"He was really smart. He was really competitive; he wanted to show you how smart he was. And he was really, really persistent," Allen wrote of his first impression of Gates.


Gates paid no attention to social convention, he wrote. When Allen, his girlfriend and Gates had dinner in college, Gates ate his chicken with a spoon. He also advised Allen's girlfriend to buy all her clothes in the same style and colors so she wouldn't have to spend time picking out outfits that matched.

Allen retells the night-and-day project when Allen and Gates wrote BASIC for the Altair microcomputer while Gates was still at Harvard. Landing the contract with Altair meant they had to establish a partnership.

Allen says he came up with the name of the company "Micro-Soft." He assumed the partnership would be 50-50. Gates first suggested 60-40, then pushed it to 64-36. Allen said he could not figure out the logic behind it, but agreed to it.

As the company grew, Allen said Gates thrived on conflict and fiery debate while Allen wanted to "solve the problem logically and move on." Gates seemed to never need recharging, and couldn't understand why an employee who had worked 81 hours in four days wanted to take a day off, Allen wrote.

"Our great string of successes had married my vision to his unmatched aptitude for business," Allen wrote.

I have said before, Bill Gates has been successful NOT because he is a computer genius or a visionary - he has been successful because he is a scumbag, an opportunist, the kind of guy who would look to fuck his partner out of his share of a company he started with him simply because his partner was sick and he thought he could get away with it.

Any resemblance between Bill Gates and the scumbag running Facebook is NOT coincidental.

They are the SAME kind of man.

Interesting that Zuckerberg has followed in Gates' footsteps, both in robbing his partners and stealing ideas and content from others, then by trying to hide his predatory nature with some jive-ass philanthropic ventures.

These men are sociopaths and the world would be a better place without either of them.

Of course if Gates and Zuckerberg were to fall into a chasm this very night and never be seen again, there would be plenty of sociopaths to replace them.

Our society seems to produce these kinds of criminals with the frequency that we produce pollution and garbage.

Until our culture stops worshiping men like Gates and Zuckerberg and calls them what they are - sociopathic criminals and mercenary scumbags without an ounce of decency or humanity - we will continue to head southward toward oligarchy and autocracy.

Government by the sociopathic billionaire, for the sociopathic billionaire, of the sociopathic billionaire.

Just don't turn your back on them.

Paul Allen: Bill Gates Was A Cheat And A Scumbag

Okay, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen didn't really say the scumbag part, but he DID call Gates a cheat:

SEATTLE -- It makes sense that in the Paul Allen Center at the University of Washington, the start-up spirit is strong, and young entrepreneurs are taking lessons from the building's namesake.

"Paul Allen's contributed so much, not just to our department here," said Josiah Adams, a computer science student, of the Microsoft co-founder. "My understanding is that they way things broke up between [Allen and Bill Gates] wasn't on the best of terms, but I didn't know the details of that."

But on April 19, he'll get a chance to see those details, at least from Allen's perspective.

Allen's upcoming book, entitled "Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-Founder of Microsoft," focuses heavily on Allen's sports teams and other endeavors -- like his involvement in developing a commercial spacecraft.

"Paul Allen's been sick, his cancer's come back," said Brier Dudley, Seattle Times technology columnist who has covered Microsoft for years. "He's been thinking about stuff obviously, and how he's going to be perceived by future generations."

But the segments catching the most buzz are his candid reflections on a deteriorating relationship with his Microsoft co-founder, excerpts of which Vanity Fair published Wednesday, including:

I was Mr. Slow Burn, like Walter Matthau to Bill’s Jack Lemmon. When I got mad, I stayed mad for weeks. I don’t know if Bill noticed the strain on me, but everyone else did. Some said Bill’s management style was a key ingredient in Microsoft’s early success, but that made no sense to me. Why wouldn’t it be more effective to have civil and rational discourse? Why did we need knock-down, drag-out fights?

"It's an unusual glimpse behind the scenes of a company that's really changed Seattle and the world," Dudley said.

In the excerpts, Allen praises Gates's brilliance and business acumen, but also paints him as a man who kept trying to drive down Allen's control of the company. He included an anecdote, after he was first diagnosed with lymphoma, in which he said he caught Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer talking.

They were bemoaning my recent lack of production and discussing how they might dilute my Microsoft equity by issuing options to themselves and other shareholders. It was clear that they’d been thinking about this for some time.


I helped start the company and was still an active member of management, though limited by my illness, and now my partner and my colleague were scheming to rip me off. It was mercenary opportunism, plain and simple.

So emblematic of Gates - your partner's sick with cancer, his productivity is down because of the illness, you scheme to to get rid of him and screw him out of his money, and you do it all in secret.

What a fabulous man!

Okay, not really.

Actually this story serves to crystallize what a venomous, greedy, dangerous man Gates is.

Or as Allen terms him, opportunistic and mercenary.

I do wish all the people who cheer the Gates Foundation "philanthropy" would remember what an absolute scumbag Gates was when he was running Microsoft and realize that he brings that same criminal persona to his "philanthropic" work.

Study Finds KIPP Schools Lose 15% of Students To Attrition EVERY YEAR

Well, this one way to keep the test scores up:

The Knowledge Is Power Program, a charter school network known for lifting the achievements of poor children through high standards and long hours of work, benefits from significant private funding and student attrition, a new study contends.

The study from researchers at Western Michigan University, to be released Thursday, estimated that KIPP schools receive more than $5,000 a year per pupil through private donations in addition to regular sources of public funding. It also found that about 15 percent of KIPP students leave the schools each year as they progress from sixth to eighth grades — and that those students often are not replaced.

Gary Miron, the study’s author, said KIPP schools in Washington and elsewhere often outperform regular public schools. “But they’re not doing it with the same students, and they’re not doing it with the same dollars,” he said.

Whether it's the KIPPsters, For Profit Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone, Mistress Eva's Hedge Fund Charter School network or any of the other various charters around the country, the truth is that these schools are often NOT educating the same kinds of students with the same dollar amounts and whenever kids are problems either statistically or behaviorally, they are counseled out or just dumped.

This is NOT a strategy to improve public education across the nation.

Now if only the putz in the White House would realize this.

Cuomo's War On The Middle and Working Classes

From Alan Singer:

The Cuomo budget, which was negotiated in secret, is a virtual war on the middle class, working people, and the poor. It calls on us to make sacrifices, while exempting the wealthiest New Yorkers. It includes an annual spending slash of roughly $3.4 billion with a $2 billion year-to-year cut in health care and education. The district-by-district impact of the cuts is not yet available and the geographic distribution apparently has not yet been determined.

In addition to the cuts in education and health care, the governor refused to extend state rent regulations, which are set to expire in June. Meanwhile, Cuomo blocked continuing the state's higher tax rate on people in the top income brackets that would have prevented many of the budget cuts.

Cuomo, who was elected governor with labor support that he has now apparently alienated, seems determined to make a name for himself in national politics as a Democrat who can cut deeper to the bone than right-wing Republican governors in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Deeply ambitious, it is not clear whether he is maneuvering for a Presidential run in 2012 in the event Obama falters even further or will be content to wait until 2016.

In a few short months in office, Cuomo has assumed virtually dictatorial power, ignoring calls for compromise and the teachers, parents, and students who have rallied around the state and marched and lobbied in Albany. He threatened that if state legislators missed an April 1 budget deadline, he would put his preferred cuts into an emergency spending measure, forcing them to vote for his budget or risk shutting down state government.

Despite the announced deal, some Democratic Party insurgents, the teachers' union, and other groups are continuing their efforts to force reconsideration of those measures. Some Democrats have in recent days openly discussed voting against a budget that is too austere. New York City Council member Charles Barron has threatened that "Whereever he shows his faced people need to confront him. I am an elected activist. I don't think we should throw out anything from our arsenal to get some improvement in the lives of the working people of this state." In February, Barron interrupted Cuomo when he spoke at a reception for the Association of Black and Latino Legislators in Albany, chanting "Stop the cuts, tax the rich," and, "Shame on you."

At the news conference announcing the budget cuts, Cuomo declared "It's a new day in New York." He should have added that it is also a sad day.

Cuomo has 69% approval.

Until New Yorkers feel the effects of this "austerity" themselves, I doubt Cuomo is going to see his poll numbers drop.

People love the idea of austerity for others, cutting taxes, all that kind of thing.

But then when the consequences come home to roost - closed schools, fired teachers, closed parks, fired park rangers, closed libraries, fired librarians - they don't like the austerity so much.

We'll see how this plays out.

I say after a year of this austerity, Cuomo's numbers plummet to 50% and after two years, he is closer to the Mendoza Line.

Cuomo Cuts Taxes On Millionaires

Slashes school budgets and aid to homeless, the hungry and the elderly.

The Daily News says Republicans cheerfully backed the budget of this "Democratic" governor.

I think that last sentence says everything that needs to be said about Governor Cuomo's budget.

Expect Bloomberg to announce layoffs soon.

Michelle Rhee's House Of Reform Cards Comes Crashing Down

In the same week she gets a front cover story in New York magazine, USA Today reports there is a pretty good probability that there has been MASSIVE fraud in the DC school system on standardized testing.

Here is the list of schools that are involved.

There are 103.

Rhee initially attacked the USA Today report and the journalists behind it with some Nixonian "These are just enemies of reform!" jive (what Alex Pareene called the "Haters Gonna Hate Defense" in Slate.)

But she had to walk that back when she realized even her water carriers like Jay Matthews at the Kaplan Test Prep Post weren't buying that excuse.

Now Valerie Strauss at that same Kaplan Test Prep Post is calling for subpoenas in this case for all involved:

One surefire way to learn whether a D.C. public school that made big gains when Michelle Rhee was chancellor actually cheated — a possibility raised by a newspaper investigation -- is to subpoena everybody in D.C. with potential involvement or knowledge and have them testify under oath. That includes Rhee.

An investigation published this week by USA Today brought new focus to previous concerns about erasures on standardized tests at D.C. schools. USA Today mentioned there were erasures that were flagged as outside the norm at 103 schools at least once since 2008 but it focused on one, Crosby S. Noyes Education Campus, where big gains on tests were reported during the Rhee era.


Six out of eight classes taking the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System test in 2007-08 were initially cited by CTB/McGraw-Hill, the testing company used by D.C. schools, as having higher-than-average erasures that turned wrong answers into the right ones, USA Today said. Then, in 2008-09 and 2009-10, the same pattern was reported by McGraw-Hill, which cited 80 percent of the classrooms at Noyes.

My colleague Bill Turque wrote back in 2009 about an investigation into possible cheating at 26 public and public charter schools where reading and math scores had shot up in 2008. The Rhee administration never got to the bottom of the allegations then.

Now USA Today has looked hard at subsequent years, drilling down into the data and interviewing some D.C. officials, but only some: Acting Chancellor Kaya Henderson would not allow the newspaper to interview Wayne Ryan, who had been principal at Noyes when the tests inspected by USA Today were taken and is now instructional superintendent.

Henderson was Rhee’s deputy, and was recently tapped by Mayor Vincent Gray (D) as his choice as Rhee’s successor; her approval by the D.C. Council is a foregone conclusion, at least at the moment.

Henderson repeatedly said on Monday that no cheating occurred, but then, on Tuesday, she asked the D.C. inspector general to investigate the controversy.

None of this, of course, proves that adults took the answer sheets from the kids, erased wrong answers and scribbled in the right ones so that the school would look good to Rhee.

But there is a way to find out: Subpoena everyone in the District who had potential involvement or knowledge of what happened. That includes Rhee and Henderson and Ryan and Michael Moody, who had served as special advisor to Rhee on academics, and the adults at Noyes.

There isn’t always fire where there is smoke, but, it’s time D.C. officials found out.

It is time to get to the bottom of this.

Rhee is the face of corporate education reform, a "rock star" in Oprah's words - if the most famous and visible of ed reform rock stars cheated her way to the top, or put into place a system that encouraged teachers and administrators to cheat in order to save their jobs, then it is very important we know that.

Especially since the Obama administration has basically replicated her corporate deform model for the NCLB Jr. blueprint.

So let's get these people under oath and find out what REALLY happened.

Time to talk, Ms. Rhee. Same goes for you, Ms. Henderson.

Raise your right hands, please.

Who knows, maybe Oprah will even do a show about the importance of firing crooked school chancellors.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Obama's Support Lowest Ever

President Accountability is getting some of his own medicine:

American voters disapprove 48 - 42 percent of the job President Barack Obama is doing and say 50 - 41 percent he does not deserve to be re-elected in 2012, both all-time lows, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This compares to a 46 - 46 percent job approval rating and a 45 - 47 percent split on the President's re-election in a March 3 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University. In a hypothetical 2012 matchup, President Obama gets 36 percent of the vote to 37 percent for an unnamed Republican challenger.

He's lucky the Republican field is so weak.

The way things stand now, he'll coast to re-election.

But not because people think he's doing a good job or deserves re-election.

Now Rhee Says Her Attacks On USA Today Were "Stupid"

Jay Matthews carries Michelle Rhee's water in the Washington Post on almost a daily basis.

I guess that's why she chose Matthews to walk back the damage over the DC test score scandal that she made worse by attacking the journalists who did the investigative reporting.

As of yesterday, she was claiming through her own group, Students First, that the USA Today story lacked "credibility" and was an attack upon DC children and teachers.

But given that the cheating in some of these DC schools was so blatant that a person would have a better shot at winning the Powerball grand prize than seeing all these erasures of wrong answers to right ones happening without cheating, and given that parents have come forth to say they tried to tell the district there were problems with these scores years ago but nobody listened, it's hard for her to argue that this story is simply the work of "the enemies of school reform."

There is too much evidence, data if you will, that Ms. Rhee was running a fraudulent school reform movement and the so-called Rhee education miracle was a mirage.

So now she's trying to walk back the attacks on USA Today and saying there should be an investigation of the test scores in DC.

Given that she is the most visible face of the education reform movement, glorified on the cover of TIME, on Oprah's show, and in the docudrama Waiting for Superman, the credibility of the whole movement rests in some ways with how Ms. Rhee handles this mess.

For her to ignore the very valid questions raises by the USA Today investigation leaves her and the reform movement open to the criticisms that have been dogging them for a while now - that many of the test score gains recorded by reformers like Rod Paige in Houston, Joel Klein in NYC and Rhee herself in DC, were fraudulent and therefore much of the reform movement is fraudulent as well.

So Rhee has to call for an investigation of this and walk back her USA Today attacks.

But make no mistake, she will try and engineer a jive-ass investigation with oversight by her former deputy and her successor as DC schools chancellor, Kaya Henderson, or by some other "ally" in the education reform movement.

There will be shenangins because there HAVE to be shenangins on this.

Rhee and the reform movement CANNOT allow the truth in the district schools to be unearthed, CANNOT allow people to see how these test scores gains occurred, how Rhee herself put the environment in place that encouraged this kind of thing.

When you run a school system on FEAR, when you pay people and evaluate them completely by test score gains, this is what you get.

So even if Rhee was not in on the cheating herself (and that is STILL a question - parents tried to tell the chancellor that these scores were suspect), the existence of this scandal itself is enough to show why the education reform movement is morally bereft and Rhee herself a miserable failure at educating children or running a school system.

She can walk back her Malkinesque attacks of USA Today all she wants, the fact is that her first reaction to the story was the REAL RHEE - she doesn't care about truth or accuracy, she cares only about attacking her enemies (her word, not mine) and living to fund raise another day.

What "General Electric Doesn't Pay Taxes"? Story

If you're getting all your news from an NBC outlet, you'd never know about the story that the Times broke about General Electric paying NO federal taxes at all.

The Kaplan Post in Washington, itself embroiled in scandal over it's for-profit education division, delights in tweaking NBC over this story:

It’s the kind of accountability journalism that makes readers raise an eyebrow, if it doesn’t raise their blood pressure first. General Electric Co., reported the New York Times last week, earned $14.2 billion in worldwide profits last year, including $5.1 billion in the United States — and paid exactly zero dollars in federal taxes.

The front-page story drew widespread commentary in newspapers and on many Web sites. ABC News and Fox News, among others, were all over it.

But the story was conspicuously absent from the reportage of one news organization: NBC.

During its Friday broadcast, “NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams” had no time to mention that America’s largest corporation had essentially avoided paying federal taxes in 2010. Or its Saturday, Sunday or Monday broadcasts, either.

Did NBC’s silence have anything to do with the fact that one of its parent companies is General Electric?

NBC News representatives say that it didn’t. “This was a straightforward editorial decision, the kind we make daily around here,” said Lauren Kapp, spokeswoman for NBC News. Kapp declined to discuss how NBC decides what’s news or, in this case, what isn’t.

But to others, NBC’s silence looks like something between a lapse and a coverup. The satirical “Daily Show” on Monday noted that “Nightly News” had time on Friday to squeeze in a story about the Oxford English Dictionary adding such terms as “OMG” and “muffin top,” but didn’t bother with the GE story.

Ignoring stories about its parent company’s activities is “part of a troubling pattern” for NBC News, said Peter Hart, a director at Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a liberal media watchdog group that often documents instances of corporate interference in news. He cited a series of GE-related stories that NBC’s news division has underplayed over the years, from safety issues in GE-designed nuclear power plants to the dumping of hazardous chemicals into New York’s Hudson River by GE-owned plants.

What’s more, Hart notes, NBC News has covered corporate tax-avoidance stories before — that is, when they didn’t involve GE. All three networks’ news divisions, according to Hart, have become reliable sources of publicity for their parents’ other corporate interests, doing news stories about upcoming sporting events or new TV shows carried on their own networks.

“It’s very curious,” Hart said. “Imagine if a different company were involved. If you changed the name to Citibank or Goldman Sachs, would NBC be interested in the story then? I suspect they would be.”

I stopped watching NBC News years ago, but I think they used to run some jive-ass gotcha thing called the "Fleecing of America" where they'd catch some corporate or government crook stealing big-ass money.

This GE/tax dodge story sounds perfect for that segment, doesn't it?

Put up a picture of Jeff Immelt's face with the words "Tax Cheat" slashed across it like a bad sunburn.

The fleecing of America indeed.

Michelle Rhee Tries To Defend DC Test Fraud

Michelle Malkin Rhee says that all those erasures from wrong answers to right ones on the tests - so many at one DC school that a person would have better odds winning the Powerball jackpot than there being a likelihood of students erasing all those wrong answers and bubbling in right ones - are just a matter of good teaching techniques:

"This story is an insult to the dedicated teachers and schoolchildren who worked hard to improve their academic achievement levels," said Rhee. "There are many reasons for erasures and the presence of erasures does not mean someone cheated. In fact, it can mean that our students are being more diligent about doing well, yet to suggest that there is no way test scores could have improved for DCPS students unless someone cheated is absurd. At StudentsFirst we know dedicated teachers make a difference, a strong inspirational principal can turn a school around, and that children can perform at high levels when given the tools to do so."

She is SO right!

I mean, heck, who can't win the Powerball grand prize every couple of years, right?

The odds at winning that prize are actually 1 : 195,249,054

Those are better odds than betting that the students at that DC school erased all those wrong answers and made them right.

Michelle Malkin Rhee can try and deflect the criticism all she wants - I don't know what she is talking about with that "How dare you say children cannot do a high level of work when given the tools to do so!" jive.

That's not what the USA Today story said at all.

Rather it said there is a high probability that the test scores in DC that Rhee and her media minions were hawking as proof positive that she is an education miracle worker are fraudulent.

So high a probability that you have a better shot of winning Powerball than this not being fraud.

Address that fact, Ms. Rhee, and leave the deflection stuff to professional hockey players.

Bloomberg Puts Charter School Expansion Over Special Needs Children

Not a surprise - after all, this is the Mayor of Money and he does love his privatized charter schools:

A Fort Greene public school's therapy programs for disabled kids could be destroyed if the city expands a charter school, parents and teachers are charging.

Department of Education plans call for Community Roots Charter School to take up more rooms in Public School 67 on St. Edwards St. in the next school year.

The expansion could displace therapy rooms used by students at P369 - a school for students with learning disabilities that also occupies space inside PS 67. Teachers and parents say the impact on students would be severe.

"It's a disaster - our kids are going to suffer," said a teacher at P369 who wouldn't give her name because she fears retribution for speaking out against her bosses.

The city's plans call for Community Roots to take over four additional classrooms in PS67 as it expands from a K-5 school with 300 students to a 450-student K-8 school starting next year.

Two of the classrooms will come from P369; they are currently used for speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy.

Without those rooms, kids will be forced to have therapy in the hallways and the stairwell, teachers said.

"It's heartbreaking, my daughter needs a private space for therapy," said Yolanda Roque-Genus, 51, an administrative assistant from Fort Greene whose daughter Nyla, 5, has autism and and receives speech therapy at P369.

What's the matter, therapy in the stairwell isn't good enough for your kid?

Hey, charter students ALWAYS get priority over students in traditional public schools.

If you don't like that, move your kid to a charter school.

That's the message the DOE and the mayor are sending.

When Does Joel Klein Get Sent To Jail?

Just like we have been saying all along, the test score gains under Chancellor Klein in New York City were fraudulent and so were the graduation and drop-out rates.

The test scores have already been publicly exposed as fraudulent.

Now a state audit has proof on the drop-out and grad rates:

The state controller ripped the city for downplaying the school dropout rate in an audit released Tuesday.

The city's rate was actually as high as 16.5% for general education students in the class of 2008 - three points higher than the city reported, the audit found.

The dropout rate for special education students was as high as 23.8%, while the city reported a 17.2% dropout rate.

"The city school system needs to sharpen its pencils when it comes to knowing which kids are dropping out and which kids are transferring to another school," said state Controller DiNapoli in a statement.

"(The education department) should be doing its homework and making sure the right papers are turned in to back up the reasons why students are leaving school."

The audit also found that the city's graduation rate was lower than reported. For general education students, it was as low as 62.9%, versus the 65.5% graduation rate reported that year.

The audit looked at students who had been classified as "discharged" - or formally classified as having left city schools for another district, private school or other programs. Students who are discharged are not counted as dropouts and do not lower the graduation rate.

In a random sample of 500 general education students discharged by the city, the auditors found that the city did not have the proper documentation for 74 - or 15 % - and should have classified them as dropouts.

The city claimed these were just mistakes, there was no purposeful deception involved.

Uh, huh.

Just like Klein didn't know the test score gains he was touting as miraculous were horseshit even though the NY Times revealed that Klein KNEW that was the case.

Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein have long been the darlings of education reform.

But with recent revelations exposing them as frauds, they ought to be in prison making license plates.

When Michelle Rhee Attacks

Michelle Rhee's education miracle in Washington D.C. has been revealed as fraudulent - so how does Rhee respond?

With an attack, of course:

"It isn't surprising," Rhee said in a statement Monday, "that the enemies of school reform once again are trying to argue that the Earth is flat and that there is no way test scores could have improved ... unless someone cheated."

USA TODAY's investigation into test scores "is an insult to the dedicated teachers and schoolchildren who worked hard to improve their academic achievement levels," Rhee said.

Rhee, who said Monday night that the investigation "absolutely lacked credibility," had declined to speak with USA TODAY despite numerous attempts before an article ran online and in Monday's newspaper. Her comments were made during the taping of PBS' Tavis Smiley show to air on Tuesday night.

If Rhee thought the story lacked credibility, why didn't she go on the record with USA Today BEFORE the story?

Dunno, but she didn't.

She never does say why the investigation lacks credibility in any case, so clearly she is just trying to deflect the criticism from herself.

Notice the jive tools she uses - she says USA Today is attacking those school kids and teachers who worked so hard to increase their scores.

Except that this is not what the USA Today story does at all.

Instead it points out that there is a better probability of winning the grand prize in Powerball than having all those kids at Noyes Campus School erase wrong answers and bubble in the correct ones.

If Rhee has an answer for this probability (and the allegations made by parents that they complained about testing irregularities at the school but were ignored), she should say what it is.

But she has no response.

So she attacks.

She is the Michelle Malkin of the education reform world.

But now she has been exposed twice - first for her own scores in Baltimore, which did not hold up to scrutiny, and now for the scores in D.C.

There needs to be a TIME magazine cover with some teachers sweeping Rhee into obscurity and poverty, where she belongs.

Instead she continues to cash in on her celebrity and has been hanging out with all kinds of Republican governors.

Tonight Ohio governor and union-buster John Kasich is up.

Before that it was union-busters Chris Christie from Jersey and Lex Luthor from Florida.

But her fund-raising days may be numbered if she cannot respond to the USA Today article and the subsequent investigations with something better than "This is just people who hate reform!"

Because the facts are piling up, like little value-added data points, and they clearly point to reality that the Michelle Rhee education miracle in both Baltimore and Washington DC is horseshit.

First Week In Libya - $550 Million

But the country's broke, right?

The Pentagon says it has spent $550 million on U.S. military operations in Libya since efforts to protect civilians from Muammar Qadhafi’s regime began 10 days ago.

Details of expenditures on the Libya mission show the Defense Department spending more than 60 percent of the $550 million on bombs and missiles, Pentagon spokeswoman Navy Cmdr. Kathleen Kesler told POLITICO. The rest of the costs, she said, “are for higher operating tempo of U.S. forces and deployment costs.”

The total — the first official tab released by the Pentagon — reflects costs incurred in the mission between March 19 and March 28. It doesn’t include day-to-day military costs like troop salaries and the upkeep of ships that the Pentagon would have had to pay regardless of the action in Libya. The funding is being shifted from other U.S. operations.

Moving ahead, Kesler said, “future costs are highly uncertain,” though the Defense Department expects to incur added costs of about $40 million over the next three weeks as the operation transfers to NATO’s leadership. After that, if U.S. forces stay at the levels planned, U.S. military involvement would total about $40 million each month.

Meanwhile Republicans are readying to shut the federal government down over budgeting issues, Republican and Democratic governors all across the country are using manufactured "fiscal crises" to break public employees contracts, bust public employees unions, and lay off workers, and cities like Costa Mesa are laying off half the municipal workforce and privatizing every service in sight.

Smells like freedom.

New World Feudalism freedom.

Here's Why the City Is Spending $542 Million On Technology For Schools

The Times looks at how much money Bloomberg is spending on technology for schools even as he threatens to fire six thousand teachers and slashes school construction spending to the bone.

The reason for all the tech spending?

City education officials are not shy about their goal to more fully integrate computers into everyday instruction. Instead of a lonely desktop or two at the back of a room, officials picture entire classrooms of students going online simultaneously, taking Internet-based classes or assessments to measure both their and their teachers’ performance. This school year alone, the city has issued $50 million in contracts to build an online course-management system, called iLearn NYC, as well as to provide training and to pay companies like Rosetta Stone and Pearson Education to provide content.

That's it in a nutshell.

This is the Bloomberg education miracle in action.

And of course Bloomberg gets to hand out hundreds of millions to his tech and business cronies in the bargain too.

Never mind how much money he has wasted on technology spending before from the $770 million wasted on CityTime to the $80 million wasted on ARIS - he is the Mayor of Money and he knows what is best for this city and its children

And that means computers at every desk to measure both children's performance and the performance of their teachers.

Maybe we can do this every week?

McGraw-Hill and the other no-bid contract test companies will love it.

Hope the bed bugs won't mind sharing the space!

Bloomberg needs to be stopped now.

As we have seen from testing scandal after scandal (the latest bringing light to the Michelle Rhee reform miracle in D.C.), an over-reliance on standardized testing is harmful and reductive.

Stop the testing.

Stop the over-reliance on technology.

Humans evolved in the real world.

Why is it all these business reformers want to take education to the virtual world?

Might it be they don't want children to know the difference?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sorry, Sandra, When You Date The Governor And You Get Involved In Politics, You Can't Duck

Sandra Lee was holding the "world's largest bake sale" at Grand Central Station to raise money for food banks to feed hungry people.

Her boyfriend, Little Andy Cuomo, has just gotten a budget deal that slashes aid to food banks and cuts services for old people and children.

Sandra was asked how she felt about that, but she would have none of it

She stonewalled:

Sandra Lee, the Food Network personality and best-selling author, was surrounded by butter-cream-frosted cupcakes and mini pecan pies, poised to kick off what she was billing as “the world’s largest bake sale” to raise $50,000 for the Food Bank for New York City.

Ms. Lee certainly proved a passionate advocate for ending childhood hunger, able to attract 30 New York restaurants and food shops to Vanderbilt Hall inside Grand Central Terminal on Tuesday morning, and rattle off facts and figures — “Every dollar that’s raised can turn into four dollars of food at the food bank,” she said.

But she became much less vocal when asked about the effect Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s new budget would have on food banks throughout the state. Ms. Lee is the longtime companion of Mr. Cuomo, and food banks and advocacy groups have asked the governor to increase state financing for hunger programs.

So far, they have been unsuccessful. Mr. Cuomo’s budget, which must be approved by the Legislature before Friday, provides $29.7 million in state funding for hunger programs, the same amount as last year. Officials at food banks say that allocation would effectively be a cut, given that demand is increasing and wholesale food prices have risen sharply over the past year.

“I am not here to talk about the governor’s budget,” Ms. Lee said, smiling, as she cut off a reporter’s question about the budget. “Thank you.”

But what about how Mr. Cuomo’s budget will affect food banks specifically?

“I am not here to talk about politics, but thank you for asking,” she replied, as polite as ever.

The food banks, however, have been far less reticent. The Hunger Action Network of New York State, an advocacy group, distributed thousands of postcards for people to send to Mr. Cuomo and legislative leaders asking them to increase funding for hunger programs.

“We had a lot of hope for him as governor, and he seems blind to the fact that we’re in a recession,” the group’s executive director, Mark Dunlea, said. “The demand at food pantries has skyrocketed, and he hasn’t really responded to that.”

The Cuomo administration did not immediately respond to the complaints about the financing.


Pressed one more time by a reporter, Ms. Lee wanted nothing of the issue.

“I’m not here to talk about politics,” she said, turning on the charm her fans have come to love. “But if you want a great recipe for cream cheese icing, I’ve got that for you.”

You can shove the cream cheese recipe up your ass, Sandra.

When you get involved in raising money for food banks in such a public way even as your consort HAMMERS poor people and old people around the state with his budget cuts and lowers taxes on millionaires at the same time, you've got to answer the questions about the budget.

And if you don't, well, then we're justified in telling you to your face that you are full of shit and you can keep your cupcake recipes...and your boyfriend.

Sandra Lee - today's worst Food Network personality.

And given the shit Ina Garten is in for refusing to meet with a child dying of cancer to cook one last meal, that's saying something.

Tell Cuomo - Protect Children, Not Millionaires

From the Alliance for Quality Education:

Jon Stewart Calls Obama, General Electric, And Tax Dodging American Corporations On Their B.S.

Indispensable viewing:

Jon Stewart was befuddled last night by a report that General Electric had paid no federal taxes in 2010 despite many commentators' claims that an oppressive corporate tax rate was killing jobs in America.

"But I thought the corporate tax rate had to be lowered?" Stewart asked. "And I'm not sure you can lower it from nothing."

Stewart then noted that GE has at the same time laid off much of its American workforce and shifted its operation overseas.

"I know the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are people," Stewart said. "But what I didn't realize is that those people are assholes."

And who did Obama hire to chair his jobs council because G.E. has so much to teach American business?

That would be G.E. CEO Jeff Immelt - tax dodger and mass outsourcer.

More change we can believe in.

Time to call these companies and their CEO's what they are - tax dodgers and cheats.

Bloomberg Says Layoffs Needed, Cuomo Says DOE Has $300 Million Surplus

The battle between the Mayor of Money and the Koch Brothers' second favorite governor continues:

Tensions flared between Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Cuomo on Monday over the state's $132.5 billion budget deal.

Bloomberg said the spending agreement announced Sunday by Cuomo and state lawmakers was an "outrage" - and insisted it fell far short of providing the $600 million the city needs to avert massive layoffs.

"Yes, some of the cuts were restored, we're told, but the final budget still cuts New York City education aid more than ever before," Bloomberg told reporters Monday.

Bloomberg has warned that without help from the state, he will be forced to lay off nearly 4,700 teachers.

He's also pleaded with Cuomo and lawmakers to change the last in, first out law governing teacher layoffs.

"Unless the state acts on the mandated relief and the pension reform quickly, the cuts that we're in the process of right now are going to be greater than people expected perhaps and more cuts to services," Bloomberg said.

Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto shot back, saying the city Education Department had a $300 million surplus and could weather the state budget cuts.


City officials deny having a surplus and claim Cuomo's team is using an outdated budget document.

"Albany wants to have it both ways: take credit for a budget with real cuts and take no responsibility for the consequences of those cuts," said Bloomberg spokesman Marc LaVorgna.

The budget deal provides an additional $272 million in education funding, only $160 million of which is for basic school aid, said state Budget Division spokesman Jeffrey Gordon.

The remainder will fund summer school special education and other items to be determined by the governor and the Legislature, Gordon said.

Lawmakers said it may not be known till Wednesday how much the city will receive in additional aid.

The budget deal provides $22.4 million to keep city senior centers open and restores $15 million for city homeless programs.

Of course there's a surplus at the DOE - but Bloomberg is pushing layoffs simply for political reasons.

Hell, there's an even bigger surplus if somebody made the Mayor of Money stop handing out all those yummy yummy no-bid contracts to outside consultants, especially the technology and testing contracts.

In this showdown, the Mayor of Money has a 38% approval rating, the Koch Brothers' second favorite governor has an approval rating of 69%.

Since Cuomo is saying that Bloomberg is "manufacturing" this financial crisis in schools, the Mayor of Money going to have a very hard time surviving the layoffs politically.

It seems that between these two men, the public is more likely to believe the Koch Brothers' second favorite governor over the Mayor of Money.

But Bloomberg is a stubborn man and he doesn't like to lose on anything.

So he may go to the brink on this anyway.

We'll see.

The UFT ought to be up with ads touting Cuomo's words - the DOE has a $300 million surplus.

Run that over and over and over...

FLASH: New York City Wins $312 Million Powerball Lottery

Mayor Bloomberg says the city will STILL need to lay off 4,666 teachers in June.

Doesn't matter what happens - the city can have a surplus, the city can take in a heckuva lot more tax revenue than expected for 2010, the Dow and the S&P can zoom to new heights on the power of Ben Bernanke's printing press, and Bloomberg will STILL say he needs to lay teachers.

The headline to this post is a gag, of course, but it's not far from reality - the city COULD win the Powerball for $312 million and Bloomberg would say that the tax bill due from the lottery win would mean 4,666 teachers need to be laid off.

It's like the old Vaudeville bit - "Heads I Win, Tails You Lose."

Only in Bloomberg's case, it's "Heads I Lay Teachers Off, Tails I Lay Teachers Off Too."

Unless the Mayor of 38% is made to pay a political price for this boondoggle, he is going to continue with it.

The unions and other progressive groups need to get him down to the 25% range.

They ought to be running CityTime commercials a couple times an hour every hour.

Let people know the mayor is squandering BILLIONS on no-bid contracts to his cronies.

Get Cynthia Nixon to cut the ad.

Anything but the snowman thing the UFT ran last time.

And let's get this mayor beaten down to the ground.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bloomberg Threatens Even More Layoffs

Now the Mayor of 38% is threatening even more teacher layoffs than the 4,666 already planned.

Cuomo says he is "manufacturing" a phony financial crisis.

Here's the Times on the battle between the two:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Monday dismissed the budget agreement reached in Albany over the weekend as an “outrage,” saying that it was likely to require the city to make another round of steep cuts.

In defiant terms, Mr. Bloomberg said the cuts proposed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders would disproportionately fall on the city, despite the fact that it served as an economic catalyst for the rest of the state.


The city was already bracing for cuts that would leave it with 6,100 fewer teachers, 20 fewer fire companies and 100 fewer senior centers. Mr. Bloomberg’s aides on Monday did not rule out the possibility of additional teacher layoffs.

While Mr. Bloomberg acknowledged that he did not have the details of Mr. Cuomo’s agreement, he said, “I know enough of the facts to be concerned.”

The city’s budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 is about $65.6 billion.

It has become something of an annual tradition for New York City mayors to warn of dire cuts from the state, only to have money restored at the last minute. But facing particularly grim financial circumstances this year and a governor with significant political momentum, Mr. Bloomberg may have more cause for concern.

Mr. Cuomo’s aides have said repeatedly that the city has the money to avoid teacher layoffs and has manufactured a financial crisis.

On Monday, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo defended the budget deal, saying it required “shared sacrifice from communities across the state.”

“The city revenue position has improved so they have much less pressure on their overall budget,” the spokesman, Josh Vlasto, said in a statement.


The war of words between Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Bloomberg escalated throughout the day. A spokesman for the mayor fired back at the governor late in the day saying, “Albany wants to have it both ways: take credit for a budget with real cuts and take no responsibility for the consequences of those cuts.”

Sure, the revenue is increasing, Wall Street is back at 2008 highs, and the city has a surplus - but that's not enough for Bloomberg.

He wants teacher layoffs no matter what.

Unless the other politicians in the state - including Cuomo and Silver - call him on this shit, he just may get them.

But we'll see where the Mayor of 38% goes in support if he pushes the layoffs.

The Times ran a big story this morning about how much money Bloomberg wasted on CityTime and how little oversight he gave the project.

City Controller John Liu has said millions can be saved by cutting outside contracts Bloomberg has going with his business and tech cronies.

And the governor said Bloomberg is full of shit and is "manufacturing" a phony crisis.

It's not like Bloomberg is holding many cards in this fight here.

Nonetheless, he is one stubborn oligarch so he may decide to go ahead with the layoffs.

Indeed, he may, as he threatened to do today, increase the number of layoffs.

What say you?


Bloomberg caves?

UFT caves?

Will Rhee Be Called To Account?

Okay, so we have some pretty convincing proof that ed deform superheroine Michelle Rhee is a fraud.

We learned a few months ago that the claims she has made on her resume and elsewhere about bringing dramatic test score increases to her students in Baltimore when she was a teacher are patently false.

Today we learned from a USA Today article that one of the shining examples of Rheeform in Washington DC - the amazing rise in test scores at Crosby S. Noyes Education Campus - is also phony.

Here is the crux of the USA Today article again:

In just two years, Crosby S. Noyes Education Campus went from a school deemed in need of improvement to a place that the District of Columbia Public Schools called one of its "shining stars."

Standardized test scores improved dramatically. In 2006, only 10% of Noyes' students scored "proficient" or "advanced" in math on the standardized tests required by the federal No Child Left Behind law. Two years later, 58% achieved that level. The school showed similar gains in reading.

Because of the remarkable turnaround, the U.S. Department of Education named the school in northeast Washington a National Blue Ribbon School. Noyes was one of 264 public schools nationwide given that award in 2009.

Michelle Rhee, then chancellor of D.C. schools, took a special interest in Noyes. She touted the school, which now serves preschoolers through eighth-graders, as an example of how the sweeping changes she championed could transform even the lowest-performing Washington schools. Twice in three years, she rewarded Noyes' staff for boosting scores: In 2008 and again in 2010, each teacher won an $8,000 bonus, and the principal won $10,000.

A closer look at Noyes, however, raises questions about its test scores from 2006 to 2010. Its proficiency rates rose at a much faster rate than the average for D.C. schools. Then, in 2010, when scores dipped for most of the district's elementary schools, Noyes' proficiency rates fell further than average.

A USA TODAY investigation, based on documents and data secured under D.C.'s Freedom of Information Act, found that for the past three school years most of Noyes' classrooms had extraordinarily high numbers of erasures on standardized tests. The consistent pattern was that wrong answers were erased and changed to right ones.

Noyes is one of 103 public schools here that have had erasure rates that surpassed D.C. averages at least once since 2008. That's more than half of D.C. schools.

Erasures are detected by the same electronic scanners that CTB/McGraw-Hill, D.C.'s testing company, uses to score the tests. When test-takers change answers, they erase penciled-in bubble marks that leave behind a smudge; the machines tally the erasures as well as the new answers for each student.

In 2007-08, six classrooms out of the eight taking tests at Noyes were flagged by McGraw-Hill because of high wrong-to-right erasure rates. The pattern was repeated in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years, when 80% of Noyes classrooms were flagged by McGraw-Hill.

On the 2009 reading test, for example, seventh-graders in one Noyes classroom averaged 12.7 wrong-to-right erasures per student on answer sheets; the average for seventh-graders in all D.C. schools on that test was less than 1. The odds are better for winning the Powerball grand prize than having that many erasures by chance, according to statisticians consulted by USA TODAY.

Lied about her own record on raising student achievement in Baltimore as a teacher, now the shining jewel in her claim to test score fame in DC is exposed as fraudulent - will TIME Magazine do a cover story on her with her riding the broom rather than getting ready to sweep out the bad teachers?

Because it is quite clear that Rhee and her Baltimore and Washington miracles are as phony as Rod Paige and the Houston miracle that came before her.

How about it, TIME?

Bloomberg Says Teacher Layoffs Still Coming

The Mayor of Money didn't get the changes to LIFO he wanted in the state budget agreement.

Some additional money for education was sent NYC's way in the agreement.

Bloomberg says he is still going to lay off thousands of teachers anyway:

Lawmakers tacked on $270 million to Mr. Cuomo's education budget.The final budget agreement keeps state education spending flat at around $20 billion, but for districts that relied on the two-year surge of federal stimulus dollars, the state budget will feel like a deeper cut.

The added school dollars weren't enough to appease the Bloomberg administration, which said the smaller cuts would still force the city to fire teachers.

"We appreciate that some of the cuts in education aid were restored," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. "But make no mistake: the final budget still cuts New York City more than ever before."

Never mind that Bloomberg is wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on outside contracting projects like this one.

He is going to try and prove a point with layoffs.

It is incumbent upon the UFT and other progressive groups to get the message out that Bloomberg is WASTING BILLIONS on contracts to his business and tech cronies.

The City Controller said this is where the budget savings is.

Bloomberg must face a stark choice with this - he already has the lowest approval ratings he has had in the last eight years (38%.)

He worries that his legacy is being tarnished by this third term.

The UFT and others must try and take those poll numbers down to Nixonian levels if he continues to go with his lay off plan.

Hammer him on the outside contracts and other boondoggles.


He wants to lay off teachers to save MILLIONS.

See the difference?

Get those poll numbers down to the 20's and see if he has the political juice to go with his plan.

What High Stakes Testing Brings

When you threaten to fire teachers and administrators and close schools based solely upon test scores, you set up the environment for this:

WASHINGTON — In just two years, Crosby S. Noyes Education Campus went from a school deemed in need of improvement to a place that the District of Columbia Public Schools called one of its "shining stars."

Standardized test scores improved dramatically. In 2006, only 10% of Noyes' students scored "proficient" or "advanced" in math on the standardized tests required by the federal No Child Left Behind law. Two years later, 58% achieved that level. The school showed similar gains in reading.

Because of the remarkable turnaround, the U.S. Department of Education named the school in northeast Washington a National Blue Ribbon School. Noyes was one of 264 public schools nationwide given that award in 2009.

Michelle Rhee, then chancellor of D.C. schools, took a special interest in Noyes. She touted the school, which now serves preschoolers through eighth-graders, as an example of how the sweeping changes she championed could transform even the lowest-performing Washington schools. Twice in three years, she rewarded Noyes' staff for boosting scores: In 2008 and again in 2010, each teacher won an $8,000 bonus, and the principal won $10,000.

A closer look at Noyes, however, raises questions about its test scores from 2006 to 2010. Its proficiency rates rose at a much faster rate than the average for D.C. schools. Then, in 2010, when scores dipped for most of the district's elementary schools, Noyes' proficiency rates fell further than average.

A USA TODAY investigation, based on documents and data secured under D.C.'s Freedom of Information Act, found that for the past three school years most of Noyes' classrooms had extraordinarily high numbers of erasures on standardized tests. The consistent pattern was that wrong answers were erased and changed to right ones.

Noyes is one of 103 public schools here that have had erasure rates that surpassed D.C. averages at least once since 2008. That's more than half of D.C. schools.

Erasures are detected by the same electronic scanners that CTB/McGraw-Hill, D.C.'s testing company, uses to score the tests. When test-takers change answers, they erase penciled-in bubble marks that leave behind a smudge; the machines tally the erasures as well as the new answers for each student.

In 2007-08, six classrooms out of the eight taking tests at Noyes were flagged by McGraw-Hill because of high wrong-to-right erasure rates. The pattern was repeated in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years, when 80% of Noyes classrooms were flagged by McGraw-Hill.

On the 2009 reading test, for example, seventh-graders in one Noyes classroom averaged 12.7 wrong-to-right erasures per student on answer sheets; the average for seventh-graders in all D.C. schools on that test was less than 1. The odds are better for winning the Powerball grand prize than having that many erasures by chance, according to statisticians consulted by USA TODAY.

Another Michelle Rhee "victory" turned to garbage when light is shone upon it.

Post Attacks Teacher Salary

The Post criticizes salary step hikes and longevity increases.

The gist of the article, planted by Bloomberg's people, is that teachers should not get salary step or longevity increases because the contract has expired - even though the city is required to pay these increases through law.

Apparently contracts are only sacrosanct for Murdoch and Bloomberg on the rich person's end of it.

I got my last salary step increase in 2008.

I will go until February 2012 until I get my next one.

So no matter what the Post says, teachers are NOT getting increases every year.

But facts, schmacts - this is about laying the ground work to go after salary step increases and longevity since the mayor is not going to get the changes to LIFO he wants.

The UFT had better take note that salary step and longevity increases are NOT places to compromise with the mayor to reduce the specter of layoffs.

The place to compromise with Bloomberg is to force him to cut outside consultants and tech contracts.

The UFT can do that by going on a coordinated campaign to show how much money Bloomberg wastes on these things.

Cuomo's New York

Tax cuts for millionaires.

Budget cuts for old people and kids.

Layoff for public employees.

Kickbacks from Wall Street.

That's Little Andy Cuomo's New York for you.

He's riding high in the polls right now, but let's see where he is one year from the day his "austerity budget" passes.

People vote for this austerity shit because they think the austerity is going to be done to SOMEBODY ELSE.

But when they're library gets closed, when they can't go camping this summer because the park rangers have all been laid off and Yogi Bear is gobbling picnic baskets at will, when they see the old people in their neighborhood dying on the street because Little Andy Cuomo decided that tax cuts for hedge fundies are more important than taking care of old people - well, we'll just have to see how that plays in the polls.

If I were the unions and progressive groups, I would be readying those ads and public appearances to tie the diminished standards of living in New York TO ANDY CUOMO and his hedge fund buddies.

Corporate profits are at an all-time high.

Corporate taxes are at an all-time low.

And yet the standards of living of middle and working class people are plummeting.

The problem is NOT that taxes are too high.

The problem is that Andrew Cuomo's hedge fund and Wall Street cronies refuse to pay their fair share in taxes and the corporations would rather outsource jobs or automate them than hire real live breathing New Yorkers.

Sell that message, Mulgrew.

It's the goddamned truth.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

NY Times: Bloomberg, Thompson Let Outside Consultants Steal Millions In CityTime Project

The Times has done a major article on how the CityTime mess came to be.

Bloomberg Budget Director Mark Page, former City Controller Bill Thompson,and the Mayor of Money himself are the villains of the piece.

Since the paywall is going up at the Times tomorrow morning, here is the article in full:

Behind Troubled City Payroll Project, Lax Oversight and One Powerful Insider

This article is by David W. Chen, Serge F. Kovaleski and John Eligon.

It was supposed to create an efficient system that would be the envy of mayors everywhere, bringing new accountability to city government and cracking down on public workers who tried to pad their paychecks with undeserved overtime.

But the payroll automation project, known as CityTime, has instead become a major embarrassment for the Bloomberg administration, first ballooning to $700 million and then resulting in federal criminal charges and multiple investigations that could dog the mayor for years.

Last week, Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith declared what had become obvious: the city cannot rely on outside consultants to monitor multimillion-dollar technology contracts, which it had done with CityTime. He added that the city would create a new office inside City Hall to do so.

An examination of the events that led to the CityTime scandal reveals lax oversight, mismanagement and a basic failure to control costs.

It also showed that much of the fervent drive to install the system could be traced to the determination of one powerful administration insider: the budget director, Mark Page.

Mr. Page, 62, a numbers cruncher who had become frustrated and distrustful of city workers, saw the new system as a way to address the chronic and costly problem of police officers’ and firefighters’ receiving more overtime at the end of their careers to increase their pensions.

He also wanted to limit litigation, now estimated at several million dollars a year, from employees who claimed, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, that they were being shortchanged in their paychecks.

Mr. Page, a lawyer, had little familiarity with technology, but he believed CityTime would curb timekeeping abuses and save the city tens of millions annually. So, wielding his power over agency budgets, he persuaded reluctant commissioners to adopt CityTime. And, brushing aside criticism, he insisted year after year that the project was inching closer to completion.

“Nobody was enthusiastic about CityTime,” said one former high-ranking Bloomberg administration official who, like most people interviewed, insisted on anonymity because the investigation was continuing. “Our take was that CityTime was long and troubled, but that it had a champion, and that champion was Mark Page.”

While Mr. Page pushed, few others inside City Hall paid attention. The mayor shares supervision over the agency that awarded the contract, the Office of Payroll Administration, with the comptroller. But William C. Thompson Jr., who was comptroller from 2002 to 2009, never met the head of the payroll agency. Nor did he audit CityTime, despite a crescendo of grumblings.

Only recently did Councilwoman Letitia James of Brooklyn, a Thompson ally and former chairwoman of the contracts committee, learn about the comptroller’s role. So the combination of Mr. Page’s being “very defensive” about CityTime and Mr. Thompson’s being “asleep at the switch” contributed to a “perfect storm,” she said.

“It was like a joint custody case where no one was monitoring whether the child was doing their homework,” she said.

Mr. Page declined, through a mayoral spokesman, to be interviewed. But during a recent budget hearing, he became visibly agitated when Ms. James suggested that he had a “romantic” view of CityTime that was oblivious to its financial and legal problems.

“I don’t quite know, if you characterize my defending it as romantic, what you would characterize your own attitude towards that and other projects as,” he said.

Mr. Page strongly defended CityTime, saying that “the implementation process has been going actually extremely well” and that the system would provide “major value to all of us as an underlying foundation to managing this place efficiently.” And he contended that CityTime was being unfairly maligned by the scandal.

“I’m not aware that that indictment is addressing the quality of the system — whether it works, is serviceable and is useful to New York City,” he said.

Mr. Bloomberg, too, remains bullish on CityTime, despite the criminal case.

“CityTime, when you write the history of it down the road, will have saved enormous amounts of money for the City,” Mr. Bloomberg told reporters recently. “It would be great if you could have done it more efficiently, more reliably, faster, cheaper — and I don’t know whether that’s possible. I don’t know of any big software project that doesn’t have lots of problems.”

Mr. Thompson declined to be interviewed. But a former high-ranking aide said the comptroller’s office raised, on at least five occasions, concerns over costs in meetings with Mr. Page, as well as with others working for Mr. Bloomberg.

“Should he have raised his voice more, and more publicly?” the aide said of Mr. Thompson. “This was a peripheral issue.”

CityTime keeps track of employee attendance and leave requests through a Web-based system. So far, 118,000 city workers use CityTime, and an additional 47,000 are expected to do so by June.

The project’s history dates to 1998, when the city awarded a competitive contract to a subsidiary of MCI for $63 million that was expected to take five years. Two years later, the contract landed in the hands of Science Applications International Corporation, or SAIC, a defense conglomerate.

That contractual handoff bypassed the normal competitive bidding process and is something city investigators are reviewing.

CityTime quickly became dubbed “Mark’s legacy project” after Mr. Page — a veteran bureaucrat and descendant of the financier J. P. Morgan — was appointed in 2002. A dour man respected for his mastery of numbers, Mr. Page had long been frustrated by myriad union timekeeping rules.

“He was like Ahab,” said one senior Bloomberg administration official, referring to Mr. Page’s obsession with the project.

One motivation, perhaps, was money. Under one proposal, if CityTime were sold to other governments, the city would receive $200,000, and additional fees per user. New York State and Illinois were among those approached, according to people involved in the discussions.

“There seems to be at least a decent possibility that this will be a system that can be used elsewhere,” Mr. Page said last June. But rather than using an existing system, Mr. Page wanted to start from scratch, partly because he did not trust the employee self-reporting aspect of other systems, officials said.

“He had legitimate things he was trying to go after, but you probably needed to separate those from managing a project, and that’s where it fell apart,” said one former high-ranking official. “There was a real blind eye. Why would you have the budget director overseeing this kind of project?”

One pivotal moment occurred in 2004, with the retirement of Richard R. Valcich, who, as the payroll office’s executive director, had accused SAIC of delaying the project to get paid more, and failing to meet industry standards. He was succeeded by Joel Bondy, who had been recommended by Mr. Page, according to several people.

Mr. Bondy’s enthusiasm for CityTime was startling: even when union officials and others complained about its delays and costs, he repeatedly urged the City Council to “take it the final 10 yards” and finish the job.

Mr. Bondy resigned in December. Mr. Bondy’s lawyer, Guy Petrillo, said he and his client had no comment.

Before working at the payroll agency, Mr. Bondy had worked for Spherion, which was hired in 2001 to provide quality-assurance over the CityTime contract. That contract has since been amended 11 times, inflating its value to more than $48 million from $3.4 million.

Spherion consultants are now at the heart of the criminal case. The accused ringleader was Mark Mazer, the Spherion consultant who had previously reported to Mr. Bondy in the mid-1990s, when they worked at the Administration for Children’s Services.

In 2005, SAIC overhauled CityTime’s design, and city officials had to decide whether to continue with the costly project. But according to an audit conducted last year by Comptroller John C. Liu, who replaced Mr. Thompson, “At a juncture when CityTime could have been terminated or possibly rebid,” the city relied too much on Spherion, which wanted to keep the contract going.

CityTime ultimately switched from being a fixed-price contract, in which a negotiated amount is paid for services delivered, to an hourly one. The cost then climbed to $628 million by 2009, from $224 million in 2006. Investigators say the hourly-wage arrangement, coupled with a lack of oversight, facilitated the corruption scheme.

As concerns grew about CityTime, the city resurrected a high-level technology review committee in 2006. There was talk of scrapping the project or replacing the contractor because, as one review participant put it, “it was obvious that it was not working.” But no minutes were kept, and the chairman of the review committee, former Deputy Mayor Robert C. Lieber, declined to comment. His memory, he said, was “fuzzy.”

A spokesman for the mayor’s office, Marc LaVorgna, said, “The fact that unfortunately gets lost is that the system we bought does in fact work and is the long-term solution to what was a monumental, decades-old problem for the city.”

Still, however the project performs technically will probably be overshadowed by its legal and financial difficulties. The industry standard for payroll or other automated projects is typically $200 to $1,000 per user. By contrast, CityTime’s cost per user is roughly $4,000. New York State, for example, is spending only $217 million to modernize its finance and accounting systems — a far more ambitious project — that will be used by 200,000 people.

“First it was Frankenstein,” said one consultant who warned officials about CityTime. “Now it’s Medusa.”

So the guys who think city workers steal money and are wasteful send business to outside consultants who steal money and are wasteful.

But they don't pay attention to any of this because these outside consultants are, you know, not city employees, so therefore they are as honest as the day is long.


When the mayor announces teacher layoffs in the next few weeks, he MUST be called to account for not only the CityTime mess but all the other outside consultant contracts he has handed out that have wasted BILLIONS.

Bloomberg says the city has to save money?

He can start with all these outside contracts.

Cuomo Gets His Tax Cuts For Rich People, Slashes Aid For Children And Old People

Little Andy campaigned on a "Fuck schools, kids and old people!" platform - tonight he made good on that promise:

Culminating weeks of secretive negotiations and intense political jockeying, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and leaders of the Legislature announced on Sunday the outlines of a $132.5 billion budget that would cut state spending, impose no major new taxes and begin a long-term overhaul of the state’s bloated Medicaid programs.

The agreement comes five days before the March 31 budget deadline, offering the prospect of Albany’s first on-time budget in five years, in what Mr. Cuomo and his counterparts in the Legislature said they hoped would signal a new day of responsible budgeting and effective government in a Capitol long criticized for its gridlock and dysfunction. The deal would end a temporary income tax surcharge on high-income New Yorkers, which some have called the "millionaire's tax" even though it affects incomes starting at $200,000 annually.

Mr. Cuomo’s aggressive and strategic approach to negotiations appeared to have yielded significant victories, including a year-to-year cut of more than $2 billion in spending on health care and education, the two largest drivers of New York’s ever-growing budget. Mr. Cuomo and the Legislature also agreed to create a new Department of Financial Services by merging the existing state banking and insurance agencies, as well as other consolidations.


Dashing the hopes of many Democratic lawmakers, including the bulk of the New York City delegation, the budget included neither an extension of state rent regulations — slated to expire in June — or of the temporary income tax surcharge on wealthy New Yorkers, a measure that has drawn support among Democrats and even some Senate Republicans as a way to further offset Mr. Cuomo’s proposed cuts to schools and other programs.

Sheldon Silver, the Assembly speaker, said in a statement: “Government had to tighten its belt with the same sense of urgency that working families have been tightening their belts since the economy went into freefall in 2008. The sole consolation is that working with the Governor, we were able to achieve critical restorations which will soften the cuts affecting working families, our senior citizens, our most vulnerable populations and the children in our classrooms.”

Sunday’s announcement came as Democrats, teachers unions, and other groups mounted a last-ditch effort to force reconsideration of those measures. While lawmakers in both the Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic-controlled Assembly typically vote for budget deals crafted by their leadership, some Democrats have in recent days openly discussed voting against a budget that is too austere.

Little Andy gave the Koch Brothers and his other wealthy cronies and overlords exactly what they wanted.

Be sure that Bloomberg will use this budget as an excuse to announce specific layoffs in the school system very, very soon.

New York City Loses While Bloomberg Dances

Adam Lisberg reports in the Daily News that the Mayor of Money is so clueless about what is going on in the city that he defended the outsourcing of tech contracts on his radio program on Friday even after his deputy mayor, Stephen Goldsmith, said the city was altering the policy and would now insource some tech work.

Here is Lisberg:

On his Friday radio show, he was asked about a new shift in city policy that had been in the newspaper for two days running - and didn't seem to know it had happened.

It's a shift on something that had been a sore point for Bloomberg's critics - outside contractors paid six-figure salaries for tech projects that blow deadlines and budgets, like the scandal-ridden CityTime system.

The mayor has long defended his administration's contracting policies, even though municipal unions and Controller John Liu say city workers could do the job for less.

So it was news last week when one of Bloomberg's deputy mayors, Stephen Goldsmith, agreed with critics and said New York will save tens of millions of dollars by bringing the work in-house.

On the radio, WOR-AM host John Gambling tossed Bloomberg a softball about it. But instead of explaining the new company line on insourcing, the mayor defended outsourcing.

"People say, 'Oh, you're spending too much money on outsiders.' If you didn't do that one contract outside, you'd have to have those people permanently on your staff," the mayor said.

"The consultants, they say, 'Oh, they charge a lot more.' Well, because that's the business," he continued. "They don't work all the time, so they have to get paid more. And sometimes they have expertise you don't have in-house."

Why was Bloomberg still defending a policy that his administration has supposedly shifted on?

Lisberg writes:

If the Bloomberg administration has a new message on contracts, why did Bloomberg himself go off-message?

Perhaps it was just reflex: The tech-friendly mayor has launched a boom in tech projects since 2002, and has always defended those efforts to drag New York into the 21st century as a necessary investment in the future.


Perhaps he was just caught in midthought: Bloomberg is a smart guy who loves to play the contrarian, and whose mind sometimes moves faster than his mouth.


Or perhaps it's a sign of something more worrisome, of a third-term mayor who has delegated the nuts and bolts of government to new aides like Goldsmith but isn't paying enough attention to what they're doing.

Those who work closely with City Hall - even Bloomberg's allies - have seen signs of third-term drift. His attention is on national and world issues, not day-to-day business like plowing snow or rewriting tech contracts.

Most New Yorkers may have not realized that until the post-Christmas blizzard fiasco, but that impression is starting to sink in. Bloomberg's approval rating is at an eight-year low. It's no coincidence his aides used old videotape to whip up almost $1 million worth of campaign-style ads for him last week.

On TV, on the radio and in the newspaper, the signs are clear for Bloomberg that his legacy as mayor is still unfinished and the ending is very much in flux. But he can't do anything to get back on track unless he reads the memo.

Meanwhile the NY Post reports that Bloomberg yucked it up at a charity function last night:

Mamma Mia, here he goes again!

A bell-bottomed Mayor Bloomberg got groovy last night as he donned a '70s-style disco outfit and joined with the cast of Broadway's ABBA-inspired hit musical "Mamma Mia" for the Inner Circle charity dinner.

Hizzoner began the show flying in as "Spidermike." But because of a technical "snafu" -- like those plaguing the real musical "Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark" -- he had to switch to a different production.

Bloomberg then performed "Mayor Mia!" with James Earl Jones providing the narration and his press secretary Stu Loeser and Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith appearing as themselves.

You can see a picture of the oh so funny mayor at the top of this blog post.

While Bloomberg pursues his costumed antics and mugs for the cameras, New York City is losing population, at least according to the latest census - perhaps because the mayor has set up an environment where you cannot live in New York anymore unless you can afford to go to one of his charity events.

While Bloomberg sleepwalks through his final (hopefully!) term, NYC schools are poisoned with PCB's and infested with bed bugs, teachers are under the gun with layoffs and public humiliation via the publishing of value-added test score data in the media, and the school construction budget has been slashed so that Bloomberg can hand out $500 million to his technology company cronies.

While Bloomberg ignores the plight of the working and middle class poor in this city, income disparity reaches Robber Baron Era levels, everyday costs for food, clothing, housing and transportation skyrocket and the mayor tells people to take a chill pill and go catch a Broadway play.

According to the latest Q poll, Bloomberg's approval rating stands at 38%. That's at George W. Bush levels, but it's even lower than that when you just ask people who live in the outer boroughs whether they approve of him or not, and it's even lower than that if you ask people who have children in the public school system how they feel about the job the mayor is doing (28% approval.)

And Cathie Black, the NYC schools chancellor that Bloomberg hired even though she has no experience in education, knows nothing about schools or education issues, and has few people skills but has lots of faux pas skills?

She's at 17% approval - 13% approval from people with kids in the school system.

Jesus, Hermann Göring has a higher Q rating than that (apparently people like saying the name "Göring" - who knew?)

So here we are, on the cusp of the mayor laying off 4,666 teachers, closing nearly 50 schools, bludgeoning thousands of teachers with test score data that has a margin of error of 35%, and the mayor dances.

Here we are with hundreds of senior centers closed and old people about to go hungry and the mayor yucks it up with his fancy-schmancy UES neighbors.

Here we are with the greatest wealth disparity in the city since JP Morgan owned the library now named for him on Madison Avenue and the mayor ignores the plight of 90% of us and makes sure that HIS PEOPLE - the Wall Street criminals and hedge fund crooks get their tax cuts and city largesse.

People have to continue to treat him with the public disdain that he got at Friday's Triangle Shirtwaist Fire commemoration.

Everywhere he goes, he needs to be showered with boos, treated with disdain and disgust, and forced to confront the fact that the jig is up - people KNOW he's a rich billionaire who doesn't give a shit about anybody outside of his circle of cronies, that he is only in this for his aggrandizement and enrichment, that he is HARMING this city and the vast majority of its people with his policies.

Ian Murphy Runs For Congress

Ian Murphy, the man who punked Wisconsin governor Scott Walker on the phone and revealed Walker's evil plans to bust public unions in Wisconsin is now running for the Congressional seat that Chris Lee, Republican and transsexual devotee, abdicated when he resigned in disgrace.

Here is Murphy's first political ad:

Boy, that sounds like a pretty good platform to me.

UPDATE: For some reason, I can only get half the file onto the blog. Go to the You Tubes and watch the ad there.

And then vote for Murphy!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bloomberg Booed At Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Commemoration

The Mayor of Money hears it from the crowd assembled to memorialize the women and men who died 100 years ago yesterday at the Asch Building fire that spurred labor protections for workers:

Stand up, fight back against Bloomberg.


Can't think of a better way to memorialize the women and men who died as a direct result of business malfeasance and negligence than to boo one of the most autocratic corporate overlords in public life today.

NY Daily News And Gothamist Pick Up Prinicpal Harassment Story

Another great example of why teachers need work protections:

A Manhattan principal accused of trying to intimidate a teacher by sending an anonymous and hateful letter is the focus of a criminal probe, officials said.

The property manager at teacher Michael McPherrin's apartment building got the letter in June, according to NY1, which broke the story Friday.

"There is always a strong odor of marijuana coming from their apartment as well as underage boys who are being coerced into unsafe sex practices with those two openly gay men with AIDS," the letter read.

McPherrin, in a followup letter to the property manager, said he thought the initial missive was related to his "role as union representative" at Independence High School.

The teacher hired an expert who analyzed the handwriting on the envelope.

The expert compared the writing in an address to a handwriting sample from principal Ron Smolkin, who McPherrin believes was responsible for the letter.

The analysis showed a match was highly likely, NY1 reported.

Education Department officials declined to comment.

The teachers' union, the Manhattan District attorney's office and the state Human Rights Commission are investigating McPherrin's allegations.

Smolkin didn't return calls seeking comment.

The concerted effort to destroy union representation in schools continues.

Coincidence that the teacher targeted by the principal is a union rep?

I think not.

Coincidence that the DOE has done nothing to look into the matter?

I think not.

If this principal had the opportunity to lay off by "merit, he would lay off this teacher first - regardless of merit.

Even Gothamist gets this part of the story:

Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have been wrangling for months over how best to reform LIFO, the "last-in first-out" teacher firing policy. One such idea that has been proposed is for principals to be given more power with their recommendations as to who should be fired or not. But there's one downside to this: what if your principal is a crazy lunatic out to get you?

Michael McPherrin, who teaches at Independence High School in Manhattan, told NY1 that he believe his boss, Principal Ron Smolkin, sent a vicious anonymous letter to his co-op as a personal vendetta. The author of the note, who claims to be representing concerned residents of the building, reveals intimate personal details about McPherrin, and makes several accusations about him and his longtime partner Andre Lopes: "The talk of the building is that both Mike and illegal immigrant Andre suffer from full blown AIDS and have no problem infecting others including the underage boys they bring to the apartment." McPherrin was stunned by the note: "As you read, your jaw just keeps dropping because it just gets worse...This was an attempt to destroy our lives and me professionally," McPherrin said.

The building management called it "anonymous hate mail" and wrote McPherrin that, "our records indicate there are no complaints against you or your partner." The handwritten letter was brought to an analyst who found it "highly likely" they matched samples of handwriting McPherrin said were Smolkin's. McPherrin believes that Smolkin targeted him after he became the teacher's union rep and organized staff members concerned about Smolkin's leadership. "He has a history of retaliatory vindictive actions," McPherin said, including one case where a judge ruled Smolkin falsely accused a school aide of an assault inside the building and fired her without benefits.

Smolkin is a bad guy, he shouldn't be a principal, he shouldn't have power over other people - and yet not only does the DOE still let this guy run a school, they're not even looking into these allegations about the letter.

But ending LIFO and teacher tenure will make schools and education better, right?