Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, January 31, 2014

Star-Ledger Says If Wildstein Allegation Is True, Christie Must Resign Or Be Impeached

Seems obvious at this point - if the Wildstein allegation that Christie knew about the lane closures is true, Christie is finished:

Forget about the White House in 2016. The question now is whether Gov. Chris Christie can survive as governor.

David Wildstein, the man who ordered the George Washington Bridge lane closures, is now pointing the finger directly at Gov. Chris Christie, saying the governor knew about the lane closures in September.

Wildstein claims there is documentary proof that the governor has been lying.

If this proves to be true, then the governor must resign or be impeached. Because it will show that everything he said at his famous two-hour press conference was a lie.

And not just a typical political lie — this was like a Broadway show of lies, and would leave Christie so drained of credibility that he could not possibly govern effectively. He would owe it to the people of New Jersey to step aside. And if he should refuse, then the Legislature should open impeachment hearings.

So for now, set aside the other scandals. Forget about the charge of extortion in Hoboken. Forget about the growing evidence showing that Christie used Sandy aid as a political slush fund, leaving the real victims short.

The lane closures in Fort Lee not only caused people to miss meetings, and lose out on business deals. It delayed ambulance responses in Fort Lee, and so put people's lives at risk. It was an abuse of government authority that was almost too reckless to believe at first.

The order came from Wildstein, and was triggered by an email from the governor's deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly. That much is not in dispute. And that alone is damning evidence that Christie's administration is dangerously out of control. But if the governor himself was involved, this moves to a new level.

Is Wildstein telling the truth? He faces a criminal investigation himself, so he has a powerful incentive to give prosecutors damning information they can use against a bigger fish. That would give him leverage to negotiate a good plea deal.

But Wildstein says he has documents that prove the governor was lying at his press conference, when Christie blamed the event on the "stupid" actions of his own staff. And certainly, Wildstein was in a position to know the roots of this conspiracy. A Christie acquaintance since high school, he was appointed to a senior position at the Port Authority, despite having no expertise in transit issues. He was the governor's eyes and ears at the authority.

Others who have been implicated in this scandal will probably come forward now as well, hoping to strike deals with prosecutors before their testimony becomes redundant. And all this will happen as the administration answers dozens of subpoenas, and grapples with both criminal and legislative investigations.

When you layer on top of this the criminal investigation in Hoboken, and a separate investigation of Sandy spending by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, it becomes difficult to see how Christie can function. It should be clear even to him now that he should step down as head of the Republican Governors Association.

This is a shocking development. Christie is now damaged goods. If Wildstein's disclosures are as powerful as he claims, the governor must go.

Mary Pat is not laughing tonight:

Report Says Christie Knew About GWB Lane Closures


The former Port Authority official who personally oversaw the lane closings on the George Washington Bridge in the scandal now swirling around Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said on Friday that the governor knew about the lane closings when they were happening, and that he had the evidence to prove it.

In a letter released by his lawyer, the official, David Wildstein, a high school friend of Mr. Christie’s who was appointed with the governor’s blessing at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge, described the order to close the lanes as “the Christie administration’s order” and said “evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference” three weeks ago.

“Mr. Wildstein contests the accuracy of various statements that the governor made about him and he can prove the inaccuracy of some,” the letter added.

The letter marked the first signal that Mr. Christie may have been aware of the closings, something he repeatedly denied during the news conference.

Some people were thinking that Bridget Ann Kelly, the deputy chief of staff, might be the one to throw Christie under the bus, but then she hired a lawyer with close ties to Christie, making that seem unlikely.

Rather it seems to be Christie's old pal Wildstein who is doing it.

Probably too early to completely write off Christie, but if Wildstein can prove Christie spent two hours consciously lying at his press conference a few weeks back when he denied knowing about the bridge lane closure plot, you'd have to think not only is Christie not going to be able to run for president, he may not even be able to remain governor.

Americans seem to take politicians lying about sex in stride.

Not so sure that many New Jersey citizens will take this in stride.

Sure To Make Daily News Editors And Governor Cuomo Sad

The Daily News seems to hate the idea of a tax increase on individuals making $500,000 or more in NYC to pay for Mayor de Blasio's universal full day pre-K proposal almost as much as Governor Cuomo hates it.

Both Cuomo and the DN editors will be saddened by this news:

A number of real estate executives have come out today in support of Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s plan to tax high-earners to fund universal prekindergarten and after-school programs, representing the latest group of executives to join a grassroots campaign called UPKNYC, Commercial Observer has learned.

The new backers include David Von Spreckelsen, division president of Toll Brothers; Don Capoccia, founder of BFC Partners; Christopher Havens, co-chair of Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable; architect Jonathan Kirschenfeld; Tom Montvel-Cohen, president of the DUMBO Business Improvement District; Jonathan Marvel, founder of Marvel Architects; David Behin, president of investment sales at MNS Real Estate; Jerome Kretchmer, founder of The Kretchmer Companies; and Century 21 Department Stores.

“The time is now to make a proven investment in New York City’s children,” Mr. Spreckelsen said in a prepared statement. “We have a smart, fair plan on the table that, by asking a little more of the city’s most successful, will secure our economic prosperity for decades to come. I’m proud to support New York City’s plan and urge our leaders in Albany to do the same.”

Mr. de Blasio is calling for a five-year increase in city income tax on those earning in excess of $500,000 to 4.41 percent from 3.876 percent, which would yield approximately $530 million in new revenue. Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants the state to pay for the education initiatives using existing revenues.


 Other endorsements of Mr. de Blasio’s plan have come from Jed Walentas, principal of Two Trees Management; David Kramer, principal of The Hudson Companies; real estate developer Leonard Litwin (who is also Mr. Cuomo’s single largest campaign donor); and Don Peebles, CEO of the Peebles Corp., according to news reports.

How dare these wealthy real estate executives shill for raising taxes on rich people to pay for pre-K when neither Governor Cuomo nor DN editors want wealthy NYers to be the target of such a Socialist proposal!

Good thing these people are already wealthy or Cuomo and the DN editors would really take it out on them.

What "Vibrant" Democracy In The AFT/NYSUT/UFT Looks Like

Randi Weingarten said somewhere on the Twitter last night that the inter-union fight in the NYSUT is just an example of "vibrant democracy" in action and anybody who sees anything else in the battle between the Mulgrew/Weingarten-backed "grassroots" challengers and the Iannuzzi slate is plain wrong.

Brian from Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association has an interesting perspective on the "vibrant democracy" that is the AFT/NYSUT/UFT and left this comment on a post I wrote about Phil Rumore, the Buffalo teachers head, telling Capital NY that he was thinking about supporting the Mulgrew/Weingarten-backed "challengers" because the current NYSUT leadership hasn't been "aggressive" in pushing back against the SED/Regents reforms:

Rumore is now just doing what you are going to see a lot of NYSUT locals due- back Pallotta's slate because they are going to win. It's pretty simple, with 800 NYSUT delegates, the UFT has 40% of the voters in the election. With all of those delegates being "invite only" Unity Caucus members, Mikey Mulgrew won't allow any dissent, so all 800 will vote for their endorsed Pallotta slate. That essentially seals the election. Pallotta fills out the rest of the slate with a few others from around the state who are intoxicated by the lure of power, going from small locals to statewide "leaders", to make it seem as though it is a "grassroots movement from across the state" yet it really consists of a few more hacks beholden to Mikey Mulgrew and Unity Caucus. So who ever is backed by Mulgrew automatically wins. Therefore locals fall in line behind him so as not to get on the bad side of the "new" administration. But of course in the UFT/NYSUT/AFT world "new" and "change" mean business as usual. Ironically once Iannuzzi no longer felt beholden to Mulgrew, due to the challenge from Pallotta's slate, he got aggressive, as Rumore's BFT wished he had been earlier. Rumore's BFT responds by backing the same powers who ruled the passive Iannuzzi. But we live in a world where many "leaders" would rather be in the good graces of those in power than to truly stand up for their members.

Nothing will change until there is no longer a one party system at the state level. The unorganized 60% of the state needs to become organized. They need to bond together to oppose the Mulgrew run Unity Caucus. The good thing about this year's election is that some of the smarter people from around the state are beginning to become aware of the rigged nature of these elections. Hopefully the awareness leads to necessary changes.

There is nothing "vibrant" or "democratic" about the way the AFT/NYSUT/UFT currently works. 

The bosses make the decisions, the party hacks vote the way the bosses want, the smaller unions join suit so as to be on the right side - and the patronage is handed out and punishment doled out for any who do not comply.

Some might call that kind of operation a "vibrant democracy".

But it that doesn't sound like a "vibrant democracy" to me.

It sounds like "rigged" democracy.

And, in point of fact, that's what it is.

I'm not an Iannuzzi guy, like Rumore I think he failed to be as aggressive as he should have been against the SED/Regents/Cuomo reforms.

That said, the "grassroots challengers" come from the even-less aggressive UFT-wing, the group that continues to support Andrew Cuomo, likes the APPR teacher evaluation system, was happy SED Commissioner King got to impose it on NYC and blames every problem in the system on Bloomberg even though many of the problems the rank-and-file are most concerned with have been brought to us not by Bloomberg but by Cuomo, Tisch and King.

Even as other unions like CSEA and PEF get more aggressive against Governor Cuomo, Michael Mulgrew and the UFT "remain on good terms" with Cuomo, as State of the Politics put it today.

Does anybody really expect them to get more "aggressive" against the reforms when they're taking out Iannuzzi for getting more aggressive against Cuomo, Tisch and King, raising money for Cuomo as we speak and thinking about endorsing Sheriff Andy for re-election?

As Brian writes, it will be "business as usual" when the "change" slate takes over.

Why I No Longer Watch Football

When I was a kid, I used to love watching football on TV.  I reveled in the spectacle, the hype, the excitement, and yes, the violence of it all.

My dad hated football and would always say to me whenever I was watching a game, "That's just like the Roman gladiator games.  It's barbaric, bread and circuses stuff they feed the masses to keep them tame and in control."

I was a kid, so I would scoff at him and tell him he didn't know what he was missing, that it was a fabulous game with lots of action and excitement - America's game, for God sakes! - and there was nothing wrong with watching it.

Then I remember seeing the first serious (and sickening) injury that made me think "Hmm...maybe this game isn't so safe after all."

It was when Joe Thiesmann had his leg broken by Lawerence Taylor.

Taylor wasn't trying to hurt Theismann, it was a "clean hit" as they say on the TV that Taylor gave Theismann, but that didn't make the injury any less devastating:

Theismann's career ended on November 18, 1985 when he suffered a comminuted compound fracture of his leg while being sacked by New York Giants linebackers Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson during a Monday Night Football game telecast at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. The injury was voted the NFL's "Most Shocking Moment in History" by viewers in an ESPN poll, and the tackle was dubbed "The Hit That No One Who Saw It Can Ever Forget" by The Washington Post.[13]

At the time, the Redskins had been attempting to run a "flea-flicker" play. The Giants' defense, however, was not fooled, and they tried to blitz Theismann. As Taylor pulled Theismann down, Taylor's knee came down and drove straight into Theismann's lower right leg, fracturing both the tibia and the fibula. Giants linebackers Gary Reasons and Harry Carson then joined Taylor in the sack.
"The pain was unbelievable, it snapped like a breadstick. It sounded like two muzzled gunshots off my left shoulder. Pow, pow!" Theisman said during a 2005 interview.[14] "It was at that point, I also found out what a magnificent machine the human body is. Almost immediately, from the knee down, all the feeling was gone in my right leg. The endorphins had kicked in, and I was not in pain."[13]
While initially only the players on the field could see the extent of the damage to Theismann's leg, the reverse-angle instant replay provided a clearer view of what had actually happened—Theismann's lower leg bones were broken midway between his knee and his ankle, such that his leg from his foot to his mid-shin was lying flat against the ground while the upper part of his shin up to his knee was at a 45-degree angle to the lower part of his leg.

It was after the Theismann injury that it suddenly occurred to me that maybe my dad wasn't far from wrong in his criticism of the game.

Nonetheless I continued watching games, enjoying them as many Americans do, with friends on a Sunday and Monday night.

But I paid more attention to the injuries and I could never shake that sick feeling in my stomach that I was watching and enjoying something unseemly.

I saw all the concussions Al Toon had, and the consequences of those concussions which the Daily News described as "sensitivity to light, irritability, the nausea and the lapses in concentration and memory were all part of a severe case of post-concussion syndrome from which the elder Toon was suffering, and which took three years to subside."

I saw Dennis Byrd partially paralyzed when he broke his neck during a Jets game in 1992.

It was after Byrd that I let go of any denial around football about "clean hits" or the football equipment keeping players safe from serious injury.

I continued to watch football for many years after those injuries, but I had a more difficult time rationalizing the whole thing as the years went on.

Finally about five years ago or so, I couldn't rationalize it anymore - there was simply too much evidence that men who played football were suffering life-long damage.

Joe Namath is just the latest player to announce he has brain damage from playing the game.

Late last year, this story surfaced:

Researchers have discovered signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the crippling brain disease, in three NFL retirees, marking the second time on record that the degenerative neurological condition has been found in living players.

Pro Football Hall of Famers Tony Dorsett and Joe DeLamielleure, as well as former NFL All-Pro Leonard Marshall, tested positive for signs of the disease following three months of brain scans and clinical evaluations by researchers at UCLA. A fourth unidentified player was also tested, but his results have yet to be made available.

CTE, as the disease is known, is believed to stem from repeated blows to the head and has been linked to a variety of symptoms, such as memory loss, depression and dementia. The condition has been discovered in dozens of former football players, including San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau and Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster.

Until this year, CTE had never been found outside of an autopsy room, but in January researchers at UCLA announced a breakthrough. For the first time, they had used brain scans to identify the protein that causes CTE in five living former NFL players.

The discovery of a telltale sign of CTE in three more players comes as the NFL faces mounting questions about a connection between football and long-term brain damage. The controversy gained added attention in October when legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre joined a chorus of players who say they’ve experienced memory lapses they attribute to head injuries suffered in the NFL.

In an interview with FRONTLINE, DeLamielleure said that over his 12-year NFL career, he probably sustained “hundreds” of concussions. The former lineman for the Buffalo Bills said he was once “addicted to football,” but today he wrestles with sleeplessness, depression, and episodes of unexplainable anger.

“This is a job-related injury for me,” said DeLamielleure. “There’s no other way I got it. I didn’t go pounding my head into the wall. I didn’t do drugs. I didn’t drink. I didn’t get punched in the head one time. It’s from continuous hits to the head.”

I'm a bad American for this, I know, but I won't be watching football this weekend or any weekend in the future.

I now think my dad was right, football is the modern version of the Roman gladiator games, and really, the only way to watch it is to try and divorce yourself from the reality that many (if not all) of these players will suffer lifelong damage and injuries from playing football.

Guess I'll just have to find something else to do on Sunday when much of the rest of America is enjoying the Super Bowl.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention Dave Jennings, the former Giants and Jets punter, who died from complications related to Parkinson's disease last year. 

Parkinson's disease has been linked to head trauma.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Treating Teachers Like Children

Just got finished with three days of Regents grading in which our DOE superiors treated us like children.

The people I was grading with and I plowed through many Regents exams the past few days, but as usual with the DOE, no matter what you do or how you work, you are always treated like a criminal.

At one point, after grading hundreds of tests, we took a five minute break.

A "quality assurance" person wanted to know why we weren't working.

Our room supervisor told the quality control person our table had finished grading hundreds of exams, we had been grading exams faster than any other table and were taking a break.

The "quality assurance" person said there were tests to be graded and we ought to be grading them.

Tests were then thrown onto our table to be graded.

Here's the clicker - we finished three hours before the end of the work day, but because teachers are children not to be trusted to use professional judgment or treated like adults, we were kept around waiting until the time for "dismissal."

It reminded me of detention in Catholic school.

I have written this week about the demoralization many of the teachers expressed this week as they were grading the Regents exams.

Well, the DOE saved the best for last - how dare you take a break, work until all the tests are graded.

What - all the tests are graded?

Now you can take a break - for the next three hours until we "dismiss" you.

De Blasio and Farina say the tone from Tweed is changing and principals ought to be changing their tones too.

So far, I have seen nothing change at all.

Today was a terrific example of that.

I could have used that three hours to finish writing some recommendations I was asked to write by students this week.

Instead I sat at a table with three other people for a few hours and waited to be "dismissed."

Politics And Regents Grading

Not a lot of time to post here before I have to run off to Regents grading, but the one thing I notice every time I meet teachers from other schools sent to a central site for grading is that many teachers the system over are feeling pissed off and demoralized.

There's a certain education reform-friendly "news" blog that promotes the Gates Foundation-funded Educators4Excellence teacher group as if there are a lot of teachers who belong to it and support its education reform policies.

Most teachers I meet these days think the entire education reform movement is bullshit, the reforms Bloomberg pushed are bullshit, the Common Core (which some used to support until they had the EngageNY materials foisted on them) are bullshit, the leadership at Tweed and the state are full of shit and the governor and any other politician who hawks this stuff are full of shit.

Once again, that is what I have heard in the Regents grading room from teachers - young ones, with just a few years in, and grizzled veterans who have been through school closures.

In my work, I have met one E4E, a not-terribly bright fellow who worked at my school for one year before going off to train to be an administrator somewhere.

Educators4Excellence tried to get teachers from my school to come to a "happy hour" by bribing them with free food and drink.

No one went.

No one.

This Regents grading experience, while demoralizing because the test was designed so badly and so many students are having problems passing the Part 3 component, has been fruitful in one way.

It reminds me again that many teachers the system over are on the same page with the reform movement, the reforms, the Common Core, the APPR system, etc.

They think it's all bullshit and bad for ya.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Surrender Is Victory In The AFT/NYSUT/UFT World

Two points to make in the world of AFT/NYSUT/UFT politics:

First a tweet from one of the UFT cronies who launched the challenge against NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi

This was at the Public Employees Federation, Civil Service Employees Association and NYSCOPBA union rally protesting Cuomo's anti-union policies, particularly the policy to downsize human services in the state by getting rid of union workers and replacing them with non-union workers.

In a reply tweet, I pointed this out to Pallotta:

And of course he was just raising funds for Cuomo a couple of weeks ago:


 TO:        NYSUT Board of Directors

FROM:  Andy Pallotta, Executive Vice President

DATE:   January 15, 2014

RE:        NYSUT’s Legislative Reception

On Monday evening, January 27, 2014, NYSUT will host a Legislative Reception and briefing in the Observation Deck of the Erastus Corning Tower at the Empire State Plaza.  The reception will be held between6:00 PM – 8:00 PM.

 The Governor and his executive staff, members and the executive staff of the Senate and Assembly will be our invited guests.

 Light refreshments will be served and a cash bar will be available.

 A copy of the invitation is attached.  If you are interested and your schedule allows, please RSVP to Karen Rhatigan at (518) 213-6000 x6626 or by e-mail,

In other AFT/NYSUT/UFT news, Jessica Bakeman reports the following at Capital NY:

ALBANY—Teachers in Buffalo will likely join their peers in New York City in supporting a slate of challengers to the current leadership of New York State United Teachers, a powerful statewide union.
NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi is losing ground in his contested April election, with two major urban teachers' unions throwing support to challenger Karen McGee, a local union leader in Westchester. Andy Palotta, the current executive vice president and a force in Albany, is running for re-election and backing McGee.

Philip Rumore, president of the Buffalo Federation of Teachers, said his members are frustrated that the current leadership wasn't as aggressive as they'd hoped in responding to the state's rollout of the controversial Common Core standards.

“Many of the Buffalo teachers have not been satisfied with the positions that NYSUT has taken,” Rumore told Capital on Wednesday. “Let's put it this way: If anything, we are leaning toward a change in direction, but we haven't made a formal decision yet.”

Iannuzzi has gotten aggressive these past few weeks, calling for a "no confidence vote" on NYSED Commissioner King, withdrawing support from the CCSS until a list of demands are met by the state, and criticizing the governor's budget.

Pallotta, the UFT functionary helping to push the "challenger" slate against Iannuzzi, has been raising money for Andrew Cuomo.

I left this comment on the Bakeman piece at Capital NY:

Iannuzzi has gotten more aggressive in the recent weeks while the Pallotta/Mulgrew slate is still hanging out with Andy Cuomo and giving him bags of cash for re-election. The Orwellian nature of AFT/NYSUT/UFT politics never ceases to amaze. Literally up is down and black is white. The less aggressive "challengers" are getting supported because the Iannuzzi regime hasn't been aggressive enough.

You can't make this stuff up - Rumore is going to back the challengers who have been raising cash for Andrew Cuomo because Iannizzi and his slate hasn't been aggressive enough against Cuomo, even though they have ratcheted up the aggression in the past weeks.

Orwellian beyond belief - but par for the course at the AFT/NYSUT/UFT.

Another Randi Weingarten Dog And Pony Show

Just got home from a wonderful day of Regents grading to see this news:

Union leaders as well as some lawmakers took turns bashing Gov. Andrew Cuomo for “privatizing” and “downsizing” human services while at the same time calling for him to throttle back plans to continue closing disability centers, psychiatric hospitals and prisons.

“Keep your hands off our state workers,” Saratoga-area GOP Assemblyman Jim Tedesco said at a Wednesday rally attended by members of the Public Employees Federation, Civil Service Employees Association and NYSCOPBA, all of which represent workers at the targeted facilities.

CSEA President Danny Donohue, whose union is still upset over the governor’s institution of a less-costly Tier 6 retirement plan almost two years ago, took the rhetoric even farther, ridiculing as “bull___” the idea that Cuomo did everything he could to keep General Electric from closing an upstate plant late last year.

“Today should be the hue and cry for the governor,” Donohue said. ” … We the people of this state are sick and tired of being had by this moron.”

Okay, CSEA didn't endorse Cuomo last time around and they got screwed badly in negotiations with Cuomo, so it's not a surprise to see them take a harsh attitude toward Cuomo.

But guess who else showed up at the Bash Cuomo event?

“I don’t want to hear anymore that you can be replaced by someone that doesn’t have your skills or experience,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. (PEF is an affiliate of the national teachers union.)

Weingarten did offer a conciliatory note toward the governor, saying “he and I grew up in politics together. … I always believe in redemption.”

Ah, Randi Weingarten, trying to thread the middle as always, wanting to make her members think she's taking a strong stand with Cuomo, yet still winking and nodding to Cuomo that it's just "politics."

I for one am not fooled with Weingarten's presence at the rally.

She'll still sell her members out in a heartbeat - whether it's PEF members or AFT members.

Still, it's interesting that she's feeling pressured enough to show up at the sort of thing where other union leaders are calling Cuomo a "moron" and a "monkey."

Given how Cuomo has made it very clear that he is willing to break the unions as the state looks to "downsize" its human services facilities, shifting some work to non-unionized worker, Weingarten ought to be concerned and fighting this governor with everything she has.

But the reality is, she's too busy sitting on Cuomo Commissions to really take a tough stance against Cuomo - this is all just another Randi Dog and Pony Show.

Two State of the Union Tweets

Because I knew there would @#$% like this:

I decided this:

NYSED, Regents Squeeze The ELA Regents Exam Scores

A comment Pogue left on a post here at Perdido Street School about the outrage that is this year's ELA Regents exam:

January 2012 English Regents = 45 conversion opportunities for a 75+

August 2013 English Regents = 35 conversion box opportunities for a 75+

January 2014 English Regents = 30 conversion box opportunities for a 75+

"The Squeeze" created by corrupt/lazy Regents personnel whose needs to manipulate are greater than the need to help children.

Hitting a 75 or higher on the ELA Regents exam is one of those so-called "college readiness" measurements the state uses to evaluate schools and districts.

It is not a mistake that the conversion opportunities for 75+ have fallen from 45 two years ago to 30 now.

They are looking to use this stat to bludgeon teachers, schools and districts and use it as evidence for why their reform agenda must continue to be implemented.

BTW, the content on this year's test is much trickier than that of two years ago as well.

More difficult content, fewer conversion opportunities for a 75+, fewer conversion opportunities for a 65+ - in short, the NYSED and the Board of Regents rigged the ELA test this year for higher failure rates and lower college readiness rates.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What Was Your Regents Exam Grading Experience Like Today?

I spent today getting "normed" for the ELA Regents exam.

I have been tasked with grading the Part 3 component - the Question #26 (Controlling Idea Paragraph) and the Question #27 (Literary Element Paragraph.)

There was not one teacher in the room who thought the Part 3 component from this administration of the ELA Regents test was a fair or well-designed task.

Not one.

Many teachers were really angry that the NYSED decided to use "insight" as the topic for the Controlling Idea Paragraph.

The consensus seemed to be that many students would not know exactly what "insight" meant, and even if they did, they wouldn't be able to develop a controlling idea using the two passages the NYSED provided for this part of the exam because the passages didn't fit well together with the topic or each other.

The anchor papers and practice papers for this part of the exam were not favorable to students either - the full credit examples and practice papers were quite advanced and it seems unlikely that, given how much difficulty students had with the passages and the topic, we'll see a ton of short response paragraphs getting full credit.

With the grading chart being quite harsh (see here), I have a difficult time seeing the ELA Regents exam scores doing anything other than plummeting this time around.

I hope I'm wrong about that.

Alas, many other teachers I spent the day "norming" with today felt the same way.

Those of you out there grading, what was your experience like?

I am particularly interested in hearing from ELA and ESL teachers.

Were there many teachers out there who thought the test was well-designed or fair?

Were there any?

Regents Grading Hell

If you're reading this post anytime around 7:30 AM when I had it scheduled to be posted, then you're reading it long after I left for my ELA Regents exam grading assignment.

You see, the NYCDOE sent the teachers in my department to a school almost as far away from our school on the island of Manhattan as you can get without being:

a) in the Bronx

b) in the East River or

c) on the FDR Drive in a little cubicle on a walkway over the road.

It's nice and cold too, so not only do I get to enjoy a commute that is three times my normal commute time, but I also get to enjoy a nice brisk half mile walk from the train station to the grading site.

In any case, I had to leave extra, extra early to get to the grading site and enjoy a half day of grading instructions and "norming" (how's that for an Orwellian term?) before we'll be sent back to our own school for, well, I don't know for what.

Then it's back to three days of the triple-time commute and the half mile walk to the site - all to grade an exam that many students, in both my estimation and the estimation of many ELA teachers I have talked to, are going to fail because the NYSED set it up that way (not unlike last year's Common Core tests.)

See you in a few hours.

Some Central New York Schools Closed For Snow On ELA Regents Exam Day


It's always a brutal wintry mix -- a school-closing snowstorm on a day when high school Regents exams are scheduled statewide.

It happened today in several districts in Central New York, leaving some students frustrated -- and with one less chance to pass exams they will need to graduate. If they miss taking a Regents exam in January, they can't try again until June.

Given how difficult the ELA Regents exam was (one might say purposely rigged by SED to hit a high failure rate goal - see herehere and especially here ), I'm not sure if students who missed the exam because of a snow day missed anything other than failing the test.

Well, there's always June - for both the students who were snowed out and the one's who took the test and still got snowed under by the yellow space alien dust the NYSED threw on them.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Was The Fix In On The ELA Regents Exam?

NYC Educator has a post up tonight about the outrage that was the ELA Regents exam.

Here's a bit of what he said:

Read the two passages and show a controlling idea about insights. That's what today's Regents exam asked my kids to do. The thing is, most of them have only been in the country a few years. And there are likely plenty of American-born kids who don't know what an insight is. Certainly insight is lacking on the part of the test designers, unless their goal is to fail as many New York students as possible. That's certainly what my buddy Reality-Based Educator thinks.

But I watched a bunch of kids struggle. One claimed the word was not in his dictionary. ESL students get to use bilingual dictionaries for these tests, and they also hear the listening passage an additional time and get 50% more time. But you don't have to be a tarot card reader to know that anyone who doesn't know what an insight is will have a tough time writing about it. Here's what the dictionary says it is:

in·sight  (ĭn′sīt′)
1. The capacity to discern the true nature of a situation; penetration.
2. The act or outcome of grasping the inward or hidden nature of things or of perceiving in an intuitive manner.
Personally, that makes it even more confusing for me. It's when you have an "aha!" moment and figure something out. But I wasn't seeing that happen.
So here's what I'm seeing--in an effort to push more Common Core nonsense and make us think our kids will be stupid without it, they're throwing in notions kids won't easily grasp and making them write about them whether or not the kids even know English. You don't understand that? Then screw you, you fail.

Here's a comment I wrote on his post:

It was a deliberate doubling down, a "@#$% you everybody, we'll do what we want and there's nothing you can do to us because Bill Gates has our backs" instance. The failure rate on this test is going to be very, very high. Students need 20 on the multiple choice to be able to survive a 6 out of 10 on the writing. The Part 3 "insight" passage guarantees that lots of kids will get a 6 out of 10 on the writing component. Many kids had no idea what the word meant, and even if they did, they couldn't connect the passages to a decent controlling idea. The Part 3 is a badly designed task in the first place, but it's made a lot worse when the freaking passages don't easily fit together and one of the passages is about space aliens in the form of yellow dust.

I think we should make a big stink about this test with the politicians until they do something about these evil people at SED and the Regents. This test today was a total hammer job on kids, teachers and schools. I will wait to see what the grading material looks like tomorrow, but if it is as "rigorous" as I suspect it will, then we'll know they intended lots of failures and we should action to have the results of these exams either nullified or the grading chart changed after the fact.

I have been fuming since I first saw this test at 1 PM this afternoon. And the more I think about it, the angrier I get. But we have power to do something about it too. The pols are ready to make a move against King and Tisch - maybe high failure rates on the ELA Regents will be just the thing to make them do it.

We'll see what the grading materials look like and how the state wants the exams scored.

But I suspect the fix was in with this exam - they were looking to make the passing rates plummet.

They can do it by just rigging the Part 3 - unless students get a 2 out of 2 on either the Question #26 (Controlling Idea Paragraph) or the Question # 27 (Literary Element Paragraph), it pretty much means they fail the exam.

This exam is going to have many kids getting 1 out of 2 on both questions.

In order to pass, they will have to get a 4 out of 6 on their Part 4 Critical Lens Essays and at least 20 out of 25 multiple choice questions right.

This will be a hard task for many of them.

In my 13 years of teaching, I've never seen a more badly designed Part 3 component than this one.

Students literally can fail the entire exam because they do not have a complete understanding of one word.

Or, viewing it from another angle, the state deliberately rigged the exam by ensuring students will fail the Part 3 writing components, thus ensuring that they fail the exam overall.

Brutal ELA Regents Exam Grading Chart From NYSED

Okay, they're looking for a high failure rate at SED on the ELA Regents exam, that's for sure.

Students need to get 20 out of 25 multiple choice questions right in order to get only a 6 on their writing component.

Given how hard the passages were, I suspect we are going to see lots of 6's on the writing components.

That means we're going to get lots of failures.

The chart is even harder than last August's when students had to get 19 out of 25 multiple choice right in order to pass with a 6 out of 10 on their writing components.

That was a brutal test too.

But IMO the Regents and the SED saved the best for the latest - a truly brutal test with a brutal scoring chart.

It's not an accident that as teacher evals have been tied to Regents scores, the charts and tests have gotten harder each time.

Commissioner King, Regents Chancellor Tisch and Governor Cuomo have a political agenda here - to prove that public schools are failing and public school teachers are failures.

The children of the state just happen to be collateral damage in all of this.

I have some students from a remedial class who have failed the exam three or four times, depending on whether they took it over the summer or not.

It is really difficult to see any of them passing today's exam with the scoring chart handed down from King and Tisch.

I don't know what to say to them when they say "You mean I have to spend another five months preparing for this exam I can't pass?"

Space Aliens, Yellow Dust And Stars On The ELA Regents...

Normally when I finish proctoring the ELA Regents and see some of my students outside the building after the test, they say that test wasn't so bad, here's what I wrote for this part, etc.

Today when I saw students outside the building, they all said "What was up with that test?"

I also heard:

"What was up with those passages?"

"I wasn't sure about that quote..."


"What was that yellow dust thing about?"

We'll see what the grading chart looks like, but if it looks anything like the charts from last January, June or August, the passing percentages for this ELA Regents exam season aren't going to be too high.

I'll wait to see the scoring chart before I declare today's ELA Regents exam a deliberate doubling down on low test scores in NY State.

But judging by the reaction of students after the test, it's not looking so great.

Cuomo Lights $5 Million In Tax Money On Fire For The Super Bowl

The Daily News, Post and Times are always railing about how tax money shouldn't be wasted on municipal employees, that there are better things to spend the money on.

They mean on stuff like this:

New York taxpayers are underwriting several parties in the coming days, including picking up $500,000 of the bill for reporters to eat and drink at a Super Bowl media bash at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan on Tuesday. Taxpayers also furnished $1 million for a vehicle to drive around the metropolitan region to promote the NFL championship game between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks.

And they're paying $2.5 million for fans to "celebrate all things football" in Times Square in the coming days.

The spending comes from $5 million Gov. Andrew Cuomo secured in the state budget for the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl XLVIII Host Committee. The East Rutherford, N.J.-based committee is putting on the NFL championship game Sunday at MetLife Stadium in the Garden State.

$1 million dollars for a vehicle to drive around and promote the most-hyped sports game of the year?

What's the point of that, exactly?

Oh, and $500,000 to fete reporters at a "media bash" at Chelsea Piers on Tuesday.

How come so expensive?

Here's why:

The state's contribution will pick up the tab for a number of things aimed at driving traffic to the Manhattan region, including the media party for more than 5,000 guests, including 3,500 journalists.

Spending $100 per head, the state will corral media members at "an unprecedented platform to feature and promote New York State products purveyors and wineries" with an I Love NY taste station.

Josh Vlasto, Cuomo's chief of staff, said more than 100 vendors that make New York products will be participating in the events; several will be giving out freebies.


Cuomo and Company claim that the Super Bowl is bringing in all this extra money to the area, so the tax money expenditures are worth it.

But ran a story reporting that the actual economic impact on the metro area from the Super Bowl will be 75% less than what the NFL projected when they were in the process of making the deal to have NYC/NJ host the game.

The article reported that NYC would make out much better than NJ, since NYC was bearing fewer costs and many of the big spenders attending the game would be spending most of their cash in NYC and not, say, Jersey City.

And which businesses were expected to do exceedingly well from the game?

"Strip clubs tend to do well," Matheson said. "I think most of those are locally owned."

Local restaurants and limo services could also capture some of that money and keep it in the local economy.

No word on whether Cuomo is promoting NY strip clubs as part of his "I Love NY" taste station.

In any case, happy Super Bowl week, everybody!

Know that some of your hard-earned tax money is going toward promoting this crap and loading people up on free food and booze.

Cuomo Rakes In Big Bucks From Eva Moskowitz's Success Charters

Gee, I wonder what they want for all this money?

Supporters of a charter-school network in Mayor de Blasio’s cross hairs are pouring big bucks into the campaign coffers of Gov. Cuomo, a friend of charter schools.

Records show board members at the growing Success Academy, which runs 22 charters in the city, have given $375,367 to Cuomo’s re-election campaign — including $90,000 since de Blasio won the mayor’s race last year.

Success is run by de Blasio nemesis Eva Moskowitz.

Contributors aren’t shy about their reasons. Cuomo backs charters, and de Blasio’s anti-charter rhetoric scares them.

“Mayor de Blasio is an extremist. There’s no other way to put it,” Success board member Charles Strauch told The Post. “De Blasio is out to take money from the rich and redistribute it. He’s made it very clear. It’s my own way of expressing support for Cuomo.”

Strauch, a businessman and schools philanthropist, added that charters were a major factor in his support of Cuomo.

“Would I give any money to de Blasio? Absolutely not. No way. I won’t be giving money to him. It is important to support politicians who have stated their support for the charter system,” Strauch said.

Cuomo alreeady plans to pay them back for all their largesse:

Cuomo, for his part, is proposing to expand the role of charter schools.

He spoke at a fundraiser before the pro-charter Democrats for Education Reform in November, where he took in $250,000 for his re-election. In January, the group kicked in another $14,000 through its political action committee.

And in return, Success is backing Cuomo's pre-K plan over de Blasio's:

The group’s executive director, Joe Williams, said charter backers are “baffled” by de Blasio’s refusal to allow the state to fund universal pre-K, as offered by Cuomo. The mayor wants pre-K paid for by a tax hike on the wealthy, which he says is a more reliable revenue source.

“He seems to be showing signs that he’s more interested in the tax increase than providing pre-K,” Williams said.

Why would the UFT leadership continue to try and cultivate a close relationship wit this governor, friend of Success Charters, when his intents toward the public education system are quite clearly reformy in all ways?

Dunno, but that is apparently why they're going to stick a shiv into Dick Iannuzzi and the NYSUT leadership - because they want to remain close to Cuomo and be his buddy.

Someone Should Sue Cuomo Over The Unfunded Mandates In NY State

From North

The Saddle Brook Schools may join with several other local school districts in a lawsuit appealing unfunded state education mandates.

Superintendent Dr. Richard Katz at the Jan. 15 school board meeting said that school districts including Denville, Montville, Readington and Wayne have been making appeals either to the New Jersey Council of Local Mandates, or directly to the Commissioner of Education about unfunded mandates.

Katz said they are specifically appealing the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) standardized tests, the Common Core Curriculum and Achieve New Jersey because they cost a tremendous amount of money to implement and receive no additional funding. Board attorney Isabel Machado is representing several of the districts and reached out to Saddle Brook, Katz said.

Ultimately, they are seeking an order from the Council of Local Mandates that rules the latest unfunded mandates unconstitutional. "I don't see PARCC or Common Core going away as a result of that, but what could come out of it if we prevail is some kind of funding," Katz said. If it's ruled unconstitutional, he added, the district would no longer be responsible for funding the programs.

Katz said they are specifically appealing the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) standardized tests, the Common Core Curriculum and Achieve New Jersey because they cost a tremendous amount of money to implement and receive no additional funding.

Board attorney Isabel Machado is representing several of the districts and reached out to Saddle Brook, Katz said. Ultimately, they are seeking an order from the Council of Local Mandates that rules the latest unfunded mandates unconstitutional.

"I don't see PARCC or Common Core going away as a result of that, but what could come out of it if we prevail is some kind of funding," Katz said.

If it's ruled unconstitutional, he added, the district would no longer be responsible for funding the programs.

In NY, the state has added more and more mandates ever since Race to the Top, overburdening districts even as state aid remains below 2009 levels.

Perhaps a few districts banding together and suing over some of those costly mandates - like the APPR mandate - is in order.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

And Yet Three More Oldies But Goodies: Michael Mulgrew Defends John King's APPR Teacher Evaluation System

Because I'm in the mood for oldies this afternoon, here's three more UFT gems coming to you from back on September 4, September 5, and September 13:

First, from September 4, 2013:

Michael Mulgrew Hails New APPR Advance Teacher Evaluation System

Remember this while you're collecting your artifacts and preparing for your 4-6 observations on 22 Danielson domains and wondering why you're being evaluated using ELA test scores even though you're an art teachers or concerned that the state is going to align the PSAT scores as the baseline for Regents scores and evaluate teachers with that data:

Michael Mulgrew LOVES this new evaluation system.

Seriously, he does - he told us in an e mail today:

As you all are aware, this new system was the result of binding arbitration presided over by state Education Commissioner John King when we could not come to an agreement with Mayor Bloomberg on a teacher evaluation system required by state law. Mayor Bloomberg never wanted an evaluation system that could help teachers. He only wanted a system to beat up teachers
But the state teacher evaluation law is clear in its intent to support the work teachers do inside the classroom, and that is exactly how we plan to see it used in New York City.

It was clear to every teacher in the room in my school yesterday that the new Advance teacher evaluation system imposed by John King and hailed by Michael Mulgrew does nothing of the sort like support teachers.

It is a "gotcha" system plain and simple, so complex and convoluted in how it is devised that not even the "experts" in the school who sat through hours of NYCDOE explanations about the system could properly explain how the test score components are going to work.

That Mulgrew is defending this system in an email at all tells you all you need to know about how much the UFT is invested in it.

Mulgrew and Iannuzzi helped devise it, they stood on stage with Cuomo after he forced them to drop the successful lawsuit they had mounted against the Regents over the testing component that went above and beyond the RttT law, Mulgrew was happy to see King named an "independent arbitrator" who got to impose a system of evaluation on NYC teachers and once the nightmare system was imposed by Reformy John, Mulgrew attacked anybody who criticized the system.

He keeps saying this system has "multiple measures of evaluation" - but when test scores trump all else (get declared "ineffective" on the test score components and you have to be declared "ineffective" overall!) , there are no multiple measures of evaluation.

In effect, the 40% testing component is 100% if you come up "i-rated" on it.

Why doesn't Mulgrew criticize that component?  Why does he paper over the problems in this system?

Because this is Mulgrew's baby, pure and simple and he likes it.

Sure, he says he wants to make sure the implementation is fair and just.

But what the hell does that mean?

When you have a system that is totally unworkable, complex, convoluted and inexplicable to parents and teachers, how do you make sure the implementation is fair and just?

I have written that I think that many teachers who have been largely apolitical about union politics are going to be politicized and radicalized after a couple of years of this system.

I saw that in the room yesterday as administrators tried to explain this Advance system to people.

Compare Mulgrew's email to UFT members with what Julie Cavanagh wrote last week about the APPR Advance system.

Everybody in the PD room yesterday agreed more with Cavanagh's characterization of the system than Mulgrew's.

They can bring Leo Casey back to sling all the crap they want about how the system scrapes the skies.

People know a "gotcha" system when they see it.

And that's what the Advance APPR teacher evaluation system is.

And now a post from September 5, 2013:

Mulgrew AGAIN Defends Advance APPR Teacher Evaluation System In An Email

They must be feeling some pressure down at 52 Broadway this week, as teachers who haven't been following the ins-and-outs of the teacher evaluation system battles got their first detailed look at the Advance APPR system and learned just how insanely complex, convoluted and unworkable it is, because UFT President Michael Mulgrew has now sent out two emails defending the system.

The first one was entitled "Getting Started With The New Teacher Evaluation System" and was sent to teachers on September 4.

In that email, Mulgrew defended the new teacher evaluation system as "clear in its intent to support the work teachers do inside the classroom" and promised teachers "that is exactly how we plan to see it used in New York City."

Mulgrew claimed the the new system "has multiple measures, including observations and the local measures of student learning," so that claims it is fixated on test scores alone are false.

But as I noted yesterday 

He keeps saying this system has "multiple measures of evaluation" - but when test scores trump all else (get declared "ineffective" on the test score components and you have to be declared "ineffective" overall!) , there are no multiple measures of evaluation.

In effect, the 40% testing component is 100% if you come up "i-rated" on it.

In addition, while Mulgrew claimed the "local measures" component of the evaluation system is one of those "multiple measures" that make the system something other than test score-fixated, many schools are using test scores as their local measures.

In some cases, teachers outside of ELA and math licenses are being evaluated on the test scores of their students on ELA and math tests for the local measure component.

Mulgrew can claim the system has"multiple measures" of so-called teacher effectiveness all he wants - the fact is 40% of the evaluation system is made up of test scores and if you get dinged "ineffective" on that 40%, you HAVE to be rated "ineffective" overall.

And they still haven't finished completing how the local measures are going to be calculated.

Someone said yesterday when you go to the Advance website for how the system is going to work, it is mostly empty of details.

There are no calculation models, no growth model information, no details of how the performance assessments that may be used for the local measures will be graded, handled and stored.

In actuality, the DOE is still making this system up as they go even though high stakes decisions are going to be made using this system that remains a work-in-progress.

As teachers began to learn the full details of the system this week, many have become outraged that the union would ever agree to anything like this.

In my department, every teacher - every one - criticized the new system as "insane," "unworkable," and the "handiwork of people who have never taught more than a short period of time."

I have heard from other people around the system that many teachers were reacting that way this week as well.

And so, the union is feeling some pressure and Michael Mulgrew is feeling some pressure, enough that he decided to write a second email today entitled "The Challenges Ahead" again telling us how wonderful this new system is:

Furthermore, we have to make the new teacher evaluation system about supporting the work we do in the classroom every day, not a gotcha system — and we will work with the new administration to see that it does.

Notice the emphasis on working with a new administration to make sure the new evaluation system is not used as a "gotcha system" in Mulgrew's statement.

That is an implicit acknowledgement that the system as devised, with it's 4-6 observations a year using the Danielson rubric with the 22 domains, with the 40% testing component that in effect becomes 100% if you're declared "ineffective" on both the state and local test parts, can indeed be used as a "gotcha" system.

It was clear to all the teachers in my department this week that this is exactly what the system is.

One teacher, noting the impossibility of getting rated "highly effective" on Danielson and the difficulty of getting "effective" on all three parts, said the system seemed devised to have as many teachers as possible come up "ineffective" or "developing."

And indeed, that was the premise that the NYSED and the Regents started with when they developed this system - most teachers suck, so let's create a system that shows that.

It's the same thing they did with the 3rd-8th grade Common Core tests - they started with the premise that most students are "failures," they devised a grading scheme for the tests that would bear that premise out, then released the scores showing widespread drops in scores all across the state.

It's all part of their propaganda work to "prove" to parents and the public that schools are failing, students are failing, teachers are failing and something drastic must be done to solve the problems in the system.

The drastic solutions they have in mind are charterization of as many schools as possible, wholesale takeovers of school districts, the busting of all teacher work protections, the end of tenure (which they already have effectively accomplished with the new APPR system anyway - two straight "ineffective" ratings and you're fired!), even more testing in the system, the complete standardization of teaching practice across the state - these are the solutions they are working toward at the NYSED and the Regents.

Our unions - the AFT, the NYSUT and Mike Mulgrew's UFT - have been complicit in the destruction of the system by not fighting this radical agenda being promoted by the NYSED and the Regents, by not pointing out the absurdities and unworkability of the new APPR system, by not fighting to have this system abolished and replaced with something that actually isn't a rigged "gotcha" system.

Alas, our union leaders dropped the lawsuit against APPR (one which they won in the lower courts) and hailed the system back in February 2012 as an improvement over the old one.

The UFT has attacked critics of the system, like Diane Ravitch and Carol Burris, rather than try and fix the problems in the system or, better yet, have it scrapped totally.

And now, as NYC teachers start to realize how badly they are going to be screwed by the Advance APPR system, Mulgrew has his propaganda writers working overtime to churn out Daily News opinion pieces and staff emails he can put his name to defending the new system.

Propaganda will not fool teachers into thinking a crap system is anything other than crap.

The UFT leadership is used to blustering their way through issues, jiving people with lies and misinformation or propaganda.

But they will not be able to lie, misinform or propagandize their way through APPR.

This week, teachers saw for their own eyes the insanity of the system, the convoluted state and local measures components that nobody seems to understand, not the Tweedies, not the UFT, not even John King,  the unworkability of all the observations, the rigged nature of using all 22 Danielson domains for evaluations.

Mulgrew can send all the emails he wants out to members.

He won't be able to fool people anymore now that they have the Advance APPR system noose - a noose partly devised with the help of Mike Mulgrew and the UFT - around their necks.

Lucky for us we have Julie Cavanagh at MORE to send out information for how teachers can protect themselves and their colleagues as best they can from this new "gotcha" system.

You can read that information here and contrast it with the "information" Mulgrew and the UFT leadership have sent you about the new system.

Then, in three years time, remember which union leader really looks out for teachers and schools and which is complicit in the destruction of the public school system and the teaching profession.

Finally September 13:

Mulgrew Still Loves His ADVANCE APPR Teacher Evaluation System

James Eterno at ICEUFT has a rundown of what UFT President Michael Mulgrew told chapter leaders yesterday in a meeting.

I found the part about teacher evaluations most interesting:

President Mulgrew ceded very little ground when he talked about the state imposed new teacher evaluation system.  While members of the Movement of Rank and File Educators were handing out leaflets with a petition on the back urging for a moratorium on imposing the new system, Mulgrew was inside telling us that the UFT disagrees with the implementation of the new system by the current Department of Education administration.  Specifically, he emphasized how there is a state Public Employees Relations Board case going on and a Union initiated grievance.  He also told us that there are 150 new arbitration slots thanks to the new system so we can have many problems that can't be worked out by October 25 taken to this expedited process. He once again insisted that we have stronger due process under the current system than we had in the past.
He then argued that the increased observations under Danielson's framework could be positive if they are handled in a collegial way by administration but if administration plays hardball with teachers, Mulgrew recommended that teachers respond in kind by holding them to the letter of the law.
Mulgrew did admit that he was troubled by the Measures of Student Learning (MOSL) portion of the new "Advance" evaluation system, where we are judged on student test scores, but he insisted that changing and expanding what can be used for our MOSL scores would be a priority in contract negotiations. 
During the question period, Mulgrew addressed lesson plans.  He told the Chapter Leaders that the Danielson framework leaves the lesson plan format up to the teacher but the DOE disputes this.  He said that our contract is still in effect in terms of freedom of lesson plan format and prohibition against ritualized collection of lesson plans by administration so we are in grievance in these areas.
Mulgrew summed up the evaluation system by predicting that two years from now, many more schools will be doing evaluation right than wrong and that teachers need to get over their fear of having other adults in their classrooms.  He also told us that we must report it to the UFT if we need questions answered on the evaluation system, if don't have curriculum or if we have problems such as oversize classes.
Herein lies the seeds of an opportunity to kick Mulgrew to the curb in three years.
Teachers in schools roundly hate this new system.
Everyone is being forced to do a lot more documentation work for this system, work that is taking away time and energy from teachers to do what they need to do in the classroom - teach students, grade assignments, etc.
Remember that it was Mulgrew and the union who insisted all 22 domains of the Danielson be used - the DOE didn't think they could pull that off the first year.
So now teachers are having to scramble to make sure they can be "effective" or "highly effective" on all 22 domains, which means lots of extra documentation on top of all the other changes brought about by the system.
And then there's the MOSL thing.
Mulgrew may say he doesn't like this part so much, but as James Eterno and NYC Educator have both pointed out in the past, he's told the DA that no teachers should be afraid of growth models on student work, that the union had argued during the negotiation process for growth models to be added as the local component of student performance, so this part of the evaluation system is once again his baby.
In quite a few schools around the city, teachers are being evaluated on this part of ADVANCE using tests scores of students they don't teach in classes they don't teach in subjects they're not licensed in.
That's happening in my school and I have heard from others that's happening in their schools as well.
Now I don't know about you, but I get concerned when my so-called performance is judged on something that I have no control over - like how students perform on ELA performance assessments in September and June that will be run through some DOE growth model formula.
But this is compounded for many other teachers outside of ELA who will be judged using those scores as well.
How can somebody who teaches health or gym or a vocational class be meaningfully evaluated by using test scores of students on an ELA performance assessment?
The DOE says they can and John King agrees.
So does the UFT leadership, because if they didn't agree with it, they would be suing over it.
Instead they're awaiting another mayor, a new contract, and negotiations to iron out all the problems with the system.
But there's one problem with that strategy.
Since the new contract is expected to get done sometime in the spring,  the magnitude of the problems with this system won't be apparent until after the union conducts negotations.
Hell, the evaluations won't be done until the fall.
How can the UFT iron out kinks in the system if they don't even know how many teachers are getting rung up as "ineffective" or "developing" yet?
Well, they can't.
They'll say, oh, don't worry, we'll have a more amenable mayor and we'll come back and fix those later too.
The truth is, the system cannot be fixed because at its core it is broken.
It was developed as a "gotcha" system, with the Danielson rubric with so many domains to be filled that just about any teacher can be rated "ineffective," with the two separate test components that have some teachers being graded on tests in subjects other than their own (sometimes taken by students other than their own), with all the extra documentation and the new lesson plan requirements (yeah, I know the UFT says there are no new lesson plan requirements, but in practice around this city, there are new lesson plan requirements...)
It was also developed as a "burn and churn" system - so many moving parts, so much a teacher has to do in order to be rated "effective (much of it doing nothing to increase the level of teaching and learning - it's all just documentation) - so that many teachers will just up and say, "I've had enough!" and move on.
This system was devised not to get rid of so-called "bad teachers."
It was devised to get rid of any and all teachers, by burning them out, by increasing the stress and pressure of the job, by increasing the mandates without increasing the compensation, by taking all of the joy out of teaching and learning and making everything into standardized rigamarole and excess documentation.
And from what I hear from teachers this first work week, they've succeeded in doing just that.
That Mulgrew refuses to concede issues with the system as devised (as opposed to as implemented) shows you just how out of touch the leadership is with the rank-and-file.
That's to be expected, because the leadership surrounds themselves with cronies and "yes men" and isn't big on hearing dissenting opinions from within, so I bet they really believe their own b.s. on this system.
But the rank-and-file know how damaging this system is because they are living under it and they may be fired under it and they will not be fooled by Michael Mulgrew or Leo Casey or any other UFT/AFT shill touting how great the system is.
It is a long, hard road to rid ourselves of this insulated, isolated leadership - they have rigged the election process in a way that makes it very difficult to do it - but ADVANCE APPR will make that process a little easier to do.
MORE will run against Unity/New Action using ADVANCE APPR as a bludgeon - Mulgrew and the leadership helped devise this system, they allowed it to be implemented on you, they are defending it and they think there are just minor tweaks that need to be done to make it swell.
Isn't it time you get a union leadership that protects you from this kind of system rather than defends it?
That's the kind of message they'll use.
After three years of ADVANCE APPR chaos, I bet that message resonates with the rank-and-file.
Mulgrew loves ADVANCE APPR - Isn't it time we get rid of Mulgrew?

Three different times in September - two emails and a chapter leader's communique - Mulgrew defended APPR, the John King-imposed system that he helped develop and was happy to see John King impose on us.

Does this sound like a union leader wanting to issue a vote of no confidence in either John King or King's APPR teacher evaluation system handiwork?

Another Oldie But Goodie: Michael Mulgrew On Why John King Was A Great Figure To Impose A NYC Teacher Evaluation System

A post I wrote back on May 30, 2013, as we awaited the system that "independent arbitrator" John King would impose on NYC teachers:

Mulgrew On King's Evaluation System: We Supported And Shaped This Piece Of Shit (UPDATED)

Mulgrew is spinning the evaluation system decision already:

Dear colleagues, 
Late on Saturday, June 1, State Education Commissioner John King is expected to release an evaluation plan for K-12 teachers in New York City. It will be done through a binding arbitration process and take effect in September. 
The mayor and the DOE will no doubt try to spin Commissioner King’s decision to their advantage. The UFT staff will be working through Sunday to get accurate information about the new system out to you by Monday morning in a form that is both clear and concise. 
The process to create a new evaluation system has been long and contentious. The final decision came to rest with the commissioner because the city Department of Education proved incapable of negotiating in good faith with us. 
The UFT and the DOE each submitted lengthy proposals to the State Education Department on May 8. Arbitration hearings are taking place in Albany today and tomorrow. Commissioner King will consider the proposals and decide on the final evaluation system on June 1. 
We have the opportunity to use our collective-bargaining rights to modify aspects of the evaluation plan during future contract negotiations. Practically speaking, since we are in fact-finding now, if any changes were negotiated, they would not take effect until the 2014-15 school year. 
Because the commissioner’s plan must be in accordance with the 2010 state law on teacher evaluation that this union supported and helped shape, we expect it to be fair, professional and focused on teacher development to the benefit of our students. The new evaluation system as set out in state law is designed first and foremost to help teachers improve their skills throughout their careers. Teachers who are struggling will get support tailored to their individual needs. 
We have our work cut out for us in September, given this DOE’s terrible track record of translating policy to practice compounded with the fact that they will probably be gone come Jan. 1. We have started working on a professional development plan and we will use our rights to make sure that the new system is implemented fairly. It is a big help that we already have an appeals process for New York City teachers nailed down that will give our members stronger due process rights than they have ever had. 
I hope this email clarifies where we are and what we can expect. Working together, we will make this transition. You can count on your union to continue to fight to get you the support you deserve. Thank you for all that you do for our city’s schoolchildren. 

Michael Mulgrew
Michael Mulgrew

Let's repeat - the union supported and helped shape this piece of shit.

Remember that next year when the nightmare commences.

This is Mulgrew's system - he supported APPR, he helped design the SLO's, he promoted growth models, he signed off on the VAM's.

And let's not forget that he gladly conceded power to John King, NYSED Commissioner/rookie teacher, to act as an independent arbitrator in this when King is anything but that.

This is Mulgrew's piece of shit all around.

Remember who to blame when this piece of shit splatters next year.

Not Cuomo.

Not Bloomberg.

Not King.


He could have fought this, he could have issued an alternative vision to APPR.

He instead chose to support it.

The problem will not be with implementation by the DOE.

The problem will be with the system itself.

The problem will be that our union helped design it and supported it all the way through.

UPDATE: Very good piece at NYC Eye on the difference between the Buffalo Teachers Federation and the United Teachers Federation in dealing with APPR.

Just more evidence that Mulgrew wants this APPR system.

Does that sound like the kind of letter a union leader with no confidence in NYSED Commissioner King would write?

Nope - sounds like the kind of letter a union leader who supported John King and was happy King was going to impose his own evaluation system onto NYC teachers would write.

Tell me, have you seen any public statements since May 30, 2013 that would make you think Mulgrew is ready to throw his pal John King or the figure behind giving King his imposition power - Andrew Cuomo - under a bus 8 months later?

I haven't.

Yeah, Mulgrew has offered some "mild" criticism of the CCSS roll-out, but just October 30, 2013 he was still expressing support for Common Core and the SED reform agenda.

Even the "criticism" Mulgrew offered was the same stuff King was admitting was a problem - like the K-2 testing.

Mulgrew and the UFT are still blaming Bloomberg for many of the problems we're dealing with in schools - they have yet to point fingers at Commissioner King, Regents Chancellor Tisch or Governor Cuomo for their parts in the mess.