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Friday, May 29, 2015

Carmen Farina on Charters and the Future

NYC Chancellor Carmen Farina


From Betsy Combier:

It's about Carmen. It's always about Carmen.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña takes questions from parents, educators at packed Bronx forum

 
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Friday, May 29, 2015, 1:02 AM
LINK
From a mother's worries over failing schools to a teacher’s push for mental health services, the city schools boss opened her inbox to more than 500 concerned parents and educators at a packed town hall forum Thursday in the Bronx.

They traveled from as near as Mott Hall Science and Technology in the South Bronx and from as far away as Bushwick, Brooklyn, to drill Chancellor Carmen Fariña on hot-topic issues like the expansion of the city’s gifted and talented programs, teacher evaluations and school performance.

“What are you doing about professional development and abandoning programs that do not work?” Brooklyn teacher Darnese Olivieri demanded to raucous, standing-room-only cheers from fellow teachers in the audience during the “Fight for Their Future” forum co-hosted by the Daily News and the community group Metro IAF.

Q&A with Carmen Fariña from the town hall forum on city schools

Fariña, grappling with a school system that has been struggling for decades, promised to visit an Eva Moscowitz-run Success Academy charter school, gave no opinion on tax credits for kids who leave public schools for private institutions, supported spreading PTA-raised funds from school to school, and said teacher evaluations should be based on a combination of student test scores and peer review.

“I do think the best way to get better is peer review, teacher to teacher, principal to principal,” Fariña said.

The chancellor fielded tough questions from parents, teachers and education advocates about the difficulties of accessing good schools, why bad schoolscontinue to fail, and why some city classrooms are out of control — and she offered to keep listening to parents and teachers.

“I read the Daily News, and in the last forum I was faulted because I didn’t leave my email behind,” she said before producing a large sign with her email address.

“I do believe we need to use test scores for a portion of the evaluations,” Fariña said. “The percentage we use is up for debate. In my opinion, 30% is acceptable.”


Teacher Leton Hall used the open dialogue to ask about mental health services at struggling schools.

“As a teacher, everybody has to pick up the slack for some of these students in troubled situations,” said Hall, 34, a science teacher at the Mott Hall Science and Technology Academy.

Fariña, who touted the addition of 250 counselors earlier this week, agreed that more help is needed.

“All our community schools or after-school programs have to have mentalhealth clinics in their schools, no excuses. We’re looking to see how to use co-location sites so schools can share resources,” she said referring to separate schools housed within one building.

She said her plan was to boost the number of social workers and counselors at schools across the city.

Jessica Franco Ramos, of Brooklyn, brought the charter versus public school debate to the forefront by comparing the level of services available to her daughter, a charter school student, and her brother in public school.

“My daughter is currently a sixth-grader and, day by day, I see how she’s excelling thanks to the support of her teachers,” Ramos said. But her brother, for whom she’s the primary caregiver, struggles to find support and resources at a public school. “When I reached out to his guidance counselor she told me that she had 400 students to work with in addition to him,” she said.

Fariña was clear that she believes improving public schools was the answer, not adding more charters.

“I want to be very clear that there are great charter schools and great public schools,” Fariña responded. The forum followed The News’ hard-hitting “Fight for Their Future” series that focused on issues in public schools across the city.

“The Daily News takes very seriously the coverage of education because we know how important it is to our readers and to the city,” said Daily News Editorial Page Editor Arthur Browne.

The event, moderated by Errol Louis with co-moderator Ben Chapman of The News, was held at the Immaculate Conception School in the heart of the struggling South Bronx School District 7.

The long-foundering education district has the lowest ratio of elementary and middle schoolers proficient in reading, just 10%, and the lowest number of kids proficient in math, only 13%.

Forum participant Tracy Woodall, 44, pulled her kids from District 7 schools after finding the quality of education inconsistent.

“It’s a disconnect, no meetings, no nothing,” Woodall said. “It’s like you’re going from one grade to the next and it’s like going to another school.”

Woodall sends her kids to KIPP Academy charter school in Melrose, a 40-minute trip each way.

“I feel bad being a parent from the Bronx, we shouldn’t have to travel outside our district to find quality education.”
 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Carmen Farina and her PS 6 School Leadership Team Bylaws, 1999




Carmen Farina is currently the Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education. She was brought back to work after being told to "retire" (thus look good) or "be fired" (and look bad).

She was heavily involved in so many improper actions that Joel Klein, Chancellor, had to get her out of the DOE in 2006:

"From the desk of Betsy Combier, former Executive Board member of the PS 6 PTA, who worked closely with Deputy Chancellor Carmen Farina for 2 years until May 23, 2000. That afternoon, after finding out that PS 198 did not receive equal part of the $225,000 Annenberg Challenge for the Arts Grant money in partnership with PS 6, (at an Annenberg Conference Ms. Farina sent me to at Riverside Church), I asked "where is the money?", a question that spurred a telephone call from Ms. Farina to my home during which she accused me of hiring/firing all the arts teachers at PS 6, taking the money (I never touched any money, never saw checks, never knew anything about the finances of the school), and speaking for PS 6, my worst crime.

Carmen Farina's appointment as Deputy Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education is as clear a message as the the New York City public has received to date that our Mayor simply is not listening to anyone outside of his immediate inner circle.

For the past three years The E-Accountability Foundation has interviewed parents and teachers at PS 6, in District 15 (Brooklyn), and from region 8, where Mrs. Farina was Regional Superintendent before being appointed Acting Deputy Chancellor of the NYC DOE in February, 2004, and then made Deputy Chancellor in May. Her disdain for parents - aside from those who she brings into her closed circle of friends - is legendary, and her School Leadership Team Bylaws at PS 6 violate almost every clause in the "Green Book" on SLT Regulations. She was reprimanded by the Director of the Parent Advocacy and Engagement Office, Jamal Young, in a May 2001 letter to me, sent to Carmen, Superintendent Shelley Harwayne, and several other people. Nothing was done about the Bylaws or the SLT at PS 6, but Jamal's aunt Birdie Blake-Reid was found guilty of improper payments of public funds to employees, and fined by the Conflict of Interest Board soon after.

Mrs. Farina is a Master at threatening retaliation for any deed that she does not support, and she follows up her threats quickly and forcibly. "

Let's take a good look at the PS 6 School Leadership Team Bylaws, below - especially clause 6.2 about "open meetings laws".

Carmen Farina, in my opinion, is petrified of open meetings laws. Too many ears to plug scare her.


 
 
Carmen wrote these Bylaws, and at PS 6 this was the road travelled. It was her way, or the highway.

Betsy Combier

Assemblyman David Buchwald and the Push For Government Transparency in New York


 The Records Access Office at the NYC DOE has been out of work for years.              
Gotta stop.Gotta. Betsy Combier

Editorial: Public shouldn't have to wait this long for documents


Think about this for a moment: In New York, a government agency could lose a Freedom of Information Law case — be ordered by the court to hand over documents — but still take up to nine months to decide whether it will appeal and, thus, hold back complying with the ruling.
That's insane.
The public has the right to see and obtain most government records, and needless delays deny that right. Journalists in particular make good use of the Freedom of Information Law, and they need more timely rulings by the courts.
When cases drag out for months (if not years) the information sometimes becomes moot even if the request is ultimately approved. What's more, a speedier resolution tends to reduce court costs.
That's why some good-government groups and the New York News Publishers Association are pushing for right-minded changes, such as considerably shortening the time frame from a judicial ruling to when an agency must decide whether to appeal.
Assemblyman David Buchwald
A bill sponsored by Assemblyman David Buchwald, D-Westchester, has passed the Assembly and would reduce the time from nine to two months. Sen. Michael Ranzenhoffer, R-Amherst, has offered the same legislation in the Senate, but it has not passed yet, and lawmakers only have a few weeks until the end of the legislative session.
The Journal urges the state senators from this area — George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mt. Hope, Sen. Terrence Murphy, R-Yorktown, William Larkin, R-Newburgh and Sue Serino, R-Hyde Park — to not only back this bill but to publicly and urgently support its passage.
The state's Freedom of Information Law is one of the most vital tools for the public to keep tabs on the workings of government. The statute clearly puts the burden on government agencies to explain why a document shouldn't be disclosed; the burden is not supposed to be on the public to make the case why a document should be made available. And timely disclosure also is key, whether the public wants information on health-related records or access to papers connected to a development that is close to government permit approval.
The Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, Inc., The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, The League of Women Voters of New York State and the state Committee on Open Government are among those advocating improving public access to documents by speeding up the final determination on FOIL requests.
The Senate should join the Assembly in approving this legislation — and then Gov. Andrew Cuomo should sign the legislation into law at once.
 

Assemblyman Buchwald Passes Bill to Increase Transparency in Government

Good Government Legislation Approved in Assembly as Part of Annual “Sunshine Week”
March 19, 2015
 
Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Westchester) announced that the State Assembly has unanimously passed his legislation (bill number A.114) to increase openness and efficiency in government by speeding up the appeals process for Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) cases. The bill requires all state agencies who wish to file an appeal in a lawsuit challenging FOIL compliance to do so within thirty days after a court judgment and to finalize the appeal paperwork by no more than a grand total of ninety days.

“An honorable government is open to the people it serves – where citizens can freely access the information they seek to better understand how policies are set and their tax dollars are being spent,” Assemblyman Buchwald stated. “This bill aims to make the FOIL process speedier so that government is more accountable to our families. I am pleased that the State Assembly has once again passed this important piece of legislation.”

The bill creates an expedited process for determining appeals of FOIL decisions. Under the present law, a government agency’s denial of request for records may be overturned by a court, but the government agency can file a notice of appeal and has up to nine months to perfect the appeal. This further delay, in many circumstances, is unfair and restricts an individual’s rights. The delaying of disclosure, through the appeals process, may make moot the individual’s FOIL request and functionally deny them the timely access to get the documents they need. In addition, a speedier resolution reduces court costs borne by all parties, including the taxpayers of New York.

“A painful issue involves the reality that access delayed is access denied,” said Robert J. Freeman, Executive Director of the Committee on Open Government for the Department of State. “This legislation would preclude government agencies from delaying disclosure unnecessarily and requiring them to make decisions quickly regarding appeals when the Supreme Court has determined that they must disclose their records.”

Assemblyman Buchwald’s bill was passed by a vote of 147-0 in conjunction with Sunshine Week, a national bipartisan effort highlighting the importance of open government, which is celebrated around President James Madison’s birthday. This year it runs from March 15 through 21. “It’s our obligation as representatives to guarantee that all New Yorkers have access to government decision-making processes so that they can be active participants,” Assemblyman Buchwald affirmed.

This measure was one of the first bills Assemblyman Buchwald passed as a newly elected official in 2013. This year, he’s continuing his long standing pledge to advocate for an open government and urges the State Senate to follow suit and help enact these measures into law. The bill has bipartisan support in both houses, with Senator Michael Ranzenhofer (R-Amherst) and Westchester’s own Senator George Latimer (D-Rye) having sponsored the bill in the State Senate. The Senate’s identical version of the bill (S.1531) has yet to pass this year.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Chicago Teacher's Union Wins Class Action Status in Their Lawsuit Against Racism By the Chicago Board of Education

#BlackTeachersMatter. The suit against CPS and the larger national context.

MAY 25, 2015
Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 9.05.21 AM
Yesterday I posted on U.S. Judge Milton Shadur’s ruling that African American teachers who were laid off by the Chicago Public School constituted a class.
In other words, African American teachers were targeted.
The law suit will now proceed to trial and possible damages.
Today’s NY Times reports that public sector jobs have vanished.
And who have been the victims?
Because blacks hold a disproportionate share of the jobs, relative to their share of the population, the cutbacks naturally hit them harder.
But black workers overall, women in particular, also lost their jobs at a higher rate than whites, Ms. Laird found. There was a “double disadvantage for black public sector workers,” she said. “They are concentrated in a shrinking sector of the economy, and they are substantially more likely than other public sector workers to be without work.”

From National Public Voice and Fred Klonsky:

Judge Milton Shadur Gives The Chicago Teachers Union and Three Teachers Certification as a Class Action Against Racism by The Chicago Board of Education

LINK to National Public Voice

Judge Milton Shadur

#BlackTeachersMatter. U.S. Judge Milton Shadur calls CPS response to teachers discrimination lawsuit, “totally irresponsible.”

In 2011 the Chicago school board carried out large-scale layoffs of teachers and paraprofessionals.
African American board employees bore the brunt of the layoffs just as the board’s closing of neighborhood public schools two years ago mainly impacted African American communities.
As a result of the layoffs in 2011 the Chicago Teachers Union and three impacted teachers filed suit.

CTU President Karen Lewis speaking at Daley Plaza during the protest of 
Chicago school closings, 2013
As I understand it, a law suit like this has three components.  First, the plaintiffs must show that they represent a class of people by a preponderance of the evidence. They were not just individual victims. It was not a coincidence that they were mostly African American. The judge is asked to certify that it is a class action before the case can move on to trial and a ruling of damages.
On Friday, Senior U.S. Judge Milton Shadur ruled in favor of the CTU and the three teachers.
However Judge Shadur didn’t just rule in the plaintiff’s favor.
The Judge was scathing in his rebuke of the CPS board.
“What does Board say on the critical issue of disparate impact in this critical case? Here are Amended Complaint 7 and 8 and Board’s “responses”:
7. In June, 2011, the Board terminated theemployment of 931 classroom teachers through a round of layoffs. 480 of these teachers were tenured. African Americans made up 42% of the tenure teachers terminated, although constituting less than 29% of all CPS tenured teachers.
ANSWER: The Board denies the allegations of paragraph 7.
8. Defendant’s pattern and practice of targeting schools with high African American teaching populations for layoffs has a disparate impact on African American tenured teachers and staff.
ANSWER: The Board denies the allegations of paragraph 8 and further states that the Board does not “target” schools, or any demographic of teachers or staff, for layoffs under any circumstance.
And that’s it — the sum total of Board’s purported input on the subject of disparate impact, which is of course the essential linchpin for class certificationpurposes. Board has said not a word, then or since then, about the claimed basis for its unsupported ipse dixit “denial.”
In candor, that is totally irresponsible. This action has been pending for just short of 2-1/2 years: Plaintiffs filed their initial Complaint on December 26, 2012, and Board has known from day one about plaintiffs’ disparate impact contention and about the asserted numbers upon which those contentions rely.”
Judge Shadur’s ruling and order then proceeded through each requirement for certification as a class and sided with the teachers on each one.
He concluded:
Board’s only challenge to certification under Rule 23(b)(3) is its broken-record-type reassertion that individual principals fired plaintiffs, so that common questions do not predominate on that skewed premise. And that means Board has simply failed to raise any substantial challenge at all to plaintiffs’ arguments.
The case now will proceed to trial and damages.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Carmen Farina and the Coverup of Her Misconduct in Special Education Allocations to NYC's Neediest Students

Carmen Farina and the "Beautiful Day" Blizzard

One of the most fascinating parts about being an investigator/reporter/advocate/parent able to get behind the scenes and see what actually happens when a politician or member of the government is caught doing something wrong, is how major media spins the story to favor the government or just doesn't publish a story at all. It seems to me that every article and every action of the reporters and employees of our city and state government are controlled by Special Interests. Well, here is my Special Interest: get the facts right, save a person's name, career, family from destruction after false claims are made in order to retaliate.

I just posted the story of Phil Nobile, (see Changing Grades and Cheating in NYC: The Saga of Lies at Cobble Hill School of American Studies and Current Chancellor of the NYC DOE Carmen Farina by Philip Nobile; and blog post) which showed how Carmen Farina never revealed where the Annenberg Challenge For the Arts Grant went, and used the Office of Special Investigations to cover up cheating at Cobble Hill to keep her friends, including Kathy Pelles, safe. Phil contacted everyone in the media and all the politicians in NYC, and not one person posted his wonderful expose about Carmen Farina.

I contacted all media and politicians in NYC about the despicable harm of children with special needs starting around 1999. No one listened. I can only imagine if the major media had picked up his, my, and other people's cries for help back in 2004-2006, whether the DOE would be the mess that it is right now.
City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, right, seen here with Kamillah Hanks, Borough Hall liasion to the Panel for Education Policy, left, has visited Staten Island numerous times since she was appointed, and has heard complaints from special education parents, teachers and advocates about the system. (Staten Island Advance)
Special ed CEO lacks credentials; Department of Education defends choice
Diane C. Lore | lore@siadvance.comBy Diane C. Lore | lore@siadvance.com 
Follow on Twitter 
on June 20, 2014 at 12:01 AM, updated December 12, 2014 at 11:32 AM

Of course I, and other people who choose to write about what they see, have been attacked and have had family members tarnished by the people who don't like being exposed. But exposure is important, and I believe my kids understand why I continue. We have to write about the people who believe that they can harm other people and then threaten these people into silence. Not me, they cant. Not Philip Nobile.

Kathy Pelles

Kathy Pelles was a parent at PS 6 the same time I was, and is still listed as the network leader for Cobble Hill School of American Studies. When my youngest daughter entered PS 6 I was new to the public school system, as my other 3 children attended private school (Nightingale Bamford) for elementary grades K-5. I certainly knew nothing about being on the "inside" as opposed to being on the "outside" was the way to get things done at PS 6 when I entered my daughter in 1997, even though my dad was Assistant Attorney General of the State of New York for more than 20 years, under the expert rule of Louis Lefkowitz. I guess you could say politics was in my blood, but I refused to acknowledge that political networks guide policy in public schools and not the health, safety and welfare of the students.

Carmen Farina taught me that I was wrong. She showed me that kids are last, because they don't have a voice except for their parents. So, she randomly picked the parents she could control, and threw the rest away. Carmen threw me away on May 23, 2000 and started me on my new mission, to help people wrongfully accused of something.

This spurred me to become an advocate for those without voices in NYC, launching my website Parentadvocates.org, my foundation, the E-Accountability Foundation, and our award, the  "A For Accountability Award"(TM) in 2002 and 2004.

Thanks Carmen!!

Betsy Combier

Re-post from Parentadvocates.org (2004):
 
Carmen Farina: Politics Wins With Her Appointment as Deputy Chancellor in New York City 
Parentadvocates.org has spoken to teachers, parents and administrators for more than three years about Mrs. Farina and her actions as she rose in the ranks of the New York City Department of Education. E-Accountability OPINION: unsatisfactory; Recommendation: resignation or termination

 LINK          

Carmen Farina
It is much too early to tell whether she'll have the job permanently," Bloomberg told the Daily News in March. "But I have not heard one bad word about her." 

From the desk of Betsy Combier, former Executive Board member of the PS 6 PTA, who worked closely with Deputy Chancellor Carmen Farina for 2 years until May 23, 2000. That afternoon, after finding out that PS 198 did not receive equal part of the $225,000 Annenberg Challenge for the Arts Grant money in partnership with PS 6, (at an Annenberg Conference Ms. Farina sent me to at Riverside Church), I asked "where is the money?", a question that spurred a telephone call from Ms. Farina to my home during which she accused me of hiring/firing all the arts teachers at PS 6, taking the money (I never touched any money, never saw checks, never knew anything about the finances of the school), and speaking for PS 6, my worst crime. 

Carmen Farina's appointment as Deputy Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education is as clear a message as the the New York City public has received to date that our Mayor simply is not listening to anyone outside of his immediate inner circle. 

For the past three years The E-Accountability Foundation has interviewed parents and teachers at PS 6, in District 15 (Brooklyn), and from region 8, where Mrs. Farina was Regional Superintendent before being appointed Acting Deputy Chancellor of the NYC DOE in February, 2004, and then made Deputy Chancellor in May. Her disdain for parents - aside from those who she brings into her closed circle of friends - is legendary, and her School Leadership Team Bylaws at PS 6 violate almost every clause in the "Green Book" on SLT Regulations. She was reprimanded by the Director of the Parent Advocacy and Engagement Office, Jamal Young, in a May 2001 letter to me, sent to Carmen, Superintendent Shelley Harwayne, and several
Shelley Harwayne
 
other people. Nothing was done about the Bylaws or the SLT at PS 6, but Jamal's aunt Birdie Blake-Reid was found guilty of improper payments of public funds to employees, and fined by the Conflict of Interest Board soon after. Ms. Harwayne "retired" a day after current Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris who also, like Carmen, was brought back to the Mayor's office by Bill De Blasio.

Mrs. Farina is a Master at threatening retaliation for any deed that she does not support, and she follows up her threats quickly and forcibly. 

Mrs. Fariña has been given the task of defending the city's work with special education students and the mayor's third-grade retention plan, among all the other items on the Mayor's agenda. She gets an A for spinning information that is false and misleading, making it sound legitimate, and silencing anyone who questions the data or her presentation. She has the power to have people who work for her scream and threaten parents and teachers so that she doesn't have to do all the work herself. This is a Master at work, as we uncover the major disgrace that is special education in New York City. Mrs. Farina gleefully told a packed Hunter College auditorium in May that she completed 12,000 evaluations in the month of March. We did our math, and divided 12,000 by 23, the working days in March. This means that more than 521 children were 'evaluated' every day, and the only way this could happen is if someone was paid to sit in a room, put a signature to a stack of evaluations, and throw the children's needs into the garbage. We do not believe that an in-depth evaluation of all the services and requests for assistive technology for each child was done.

What else do we know about Carmen?

Carmen Farina was the Principal of PS 6 on the Upper East Side of Manhattan for 10 years.During that time she developed a highly efficient teaching group, she kept the scores on standardized testing high, she implemented an almost total "fuzzy math" curriculum, ended the Gifted and Talented Program, kept teachers in their place by instituting fear for speaking out against her in any way, and denied parents who dared to confront her on anything any involvement in the School Leadership Team or on the PTA or any school committees. Parents asked questions about $225,000 for three years' partnership with PS 198 under the Annenberg Challenge for the Arts Grants, but this money was never accounted for. Under the grant guidelines from Annenberg, the Principal was responsible for establishing the evaluation. This, we believe, was a mistake. We wrote letters, tried to reach by telephone, and attended events of, the Center For Arts Education in order to ask questions about the implementation of the arts programs at PS 6 and PS 198, but no one would speak to us. District 2 Superintendent Shelley Harwayne would not speak to us. Ms. Cynthia List, former person in charge of School Leadership Teams, told me that she had "been told not to speak with me." We also wrote the Special Commissioner For Investigations, Mr. Ed Stancik. His office never replied:

Mr. Edward Stancik
Special Investigator
65 Court Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201 May 17, 2001

Dear Mr. Stancik,

I am writing this letter to ask you to investigate Mrs. Carmen Farina, and her actions pertaining to the allocation of money received from the Annenberg Challenge For the Arts Grant.

Mrs. Farina was Principal of PS 6 from 1982 to February 1, 2001. She left in February to become Interim Acting Superintendant of District 15 in Brooklyn. In 1997 the Annenberg Foundation gave PS 6 and PS 198 in Manhattan a grant of $75,000 per year ( thus giving these schools more than $225,000 for performing arts programs ). This partnership between PS 6 and 198 was supposed to be used by both schools in partnership, and was to hire artists and groups for both schools.

I started working with Mrs. Farina at PS 6 on a program called The Arts Together Community Partnership (ATCP) in 1997. This group was designed to follow the Annenberg grant and raise money for the performing arts at both schools after the grant ended. I did not work on the grant itself, and had no knowledge of the money or artists involved with the Annenberg Grant.

In May, 2000, Mrs. Farina called me up and, completely out of the blue, accused me of taking the money from the Annenberg grant, and of hiring and firing all the artists in the school. She threw my work on the ATCP in the garbage, and wrote The Center For Arts Education and ArtsConnection that I was hiring and firing everybody.
Since this time I have found out:

1. No one knows what arts programs PS 198 had, if any. Some people I spoke with said that there seemed to be no partnership at all. 

2. The Principal of 198 at the time, Ms. Gloria Buchery, has been removed, and has refused to tell anyone what partnership existed, if any. She has not spoken with anyone about the Annenberg money.

3. The Treasurer for PS 6 has told me that even though all the Annenberg money was kept at PS 6, no one on the Executive Board knew what was being spent, or to whom it was going to. Mrs. Farina had total control over the funds.

4. This year, the 5th Grade at PS 6 did not have arts classes, even though the Grant does not end until June of this year. My daughter, in 3rd Grade, was told that her drama class was cancelled due to lack of money.

We parents at PS 6 and PS 198 want to know where the $225,000 was allocated, when, and to whom. Please investigate this and Mrs. Carmen Farina.

Thank you. Mrs. Farina may be reached at:

District 15
Acting Superintendant
360 Smith Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
718-330-9300

Home: 29 Tiffany Place #PH3
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Please let me know, as a member of the parent organization desiring this investigation of Carmen Farina, what you find. 
Betsy Combier


The Annenberg money was particularly troubling, as there was no accountability for the funds, and indeed the Annenberg Foundation does not consider this a successful program.

In October 1997 I spoke with Carmen about helping her fundraise for the arts. She asked me to help her find a way to raise money for the arts at PS 6 when the Annenberg grant ran out. Over the next several days I thought about a parent-driven project that would be centered around a community association for the arts. Carmen loved the idea, so for the next 8 months I and several other parents discussed what is now known as "The Arts Together Community Partnership". 

PS 6's grant from Annenberg was part of the Annenberg Challenge for the Arts, designed to partner two very different schools so that each could provide and share the grant money and arts programs. The Arts Together Community Partnership worked as a parent-driven organization that brought funds into both schools through a membership/community association. In March 2000 Carmen gave us $2000 to produce the ATCP brochure, and we were able to print 1000 copies for $1995. She loved it.

Carmen asked me to speak with the partner school's Principal, Gloria Buckery (former PS 198 Principal, now Region 6 Superintendent). I went over immediately with the brochure, and Gloria joined the Arts Together Community Partnership on the spot, donating $25.00. I brought the check back to PS 6 and left it with Carmen, as one of my rules is to never hold money that belongs in a school bank account.

Then, a strange thing happened. Carmen did not let me know what she would want the parents to do. We were meeting in the school cafeteria, but whenever we had a logistics problem, Carmen just did not answer. Then she told me that she wanted me to attend the Annenberg Conference on how to follow the grant with arts-funding ideas. I went to Riverside Church on May 23, 2000 for the conference, and went to an afternoon session at which I spoke very briefly about the ATCP. Two teachers from 198 told me at the end of the day that they had never heard of The Arts Together Community Partnership! They seemed very surprised to see the logo, with PS 6 on one side, and PS 198 on the other, because they did not know if, indeed, there were any arts programs at 198 funded by Annenberg. I was very concerned. When I returned home I received a telephone call from Carmen Farina, and she was extremely upset. She screamed that I was firing all the Annenberg artists, I was hiring others, I was taking the money, and I would not get away with it. She said, "You have NO right to speak for PS 6". I was stunned.
The next day I did exactly what she wanted, and that was to resign from my lunchtime club - helping 4th and 5th graders learn about charitable organizations - and my position on the PTA Executive Board. A few days later I received a letter in the mail that told me Carmen and Jane Gordan, the PTA President as witness, had thrown all the Arts Together Community Partnership materials into the garbage. Carmen wrote that I would NEVER set this project up at PS 6. Luckily, I had several brochures at home. 

In 2003 Carmen spoke at the New York City Council about her new community Organization Program, "First Tuesdays". She said that all the restaurants in 15 were joining this program to supply needed After School money to district schools. The idea was very similar to the ATCP. So, I guess Carmen liked the ATCP after all! Just to make sure, I called Mr. Weiss up at the District 15 office, and asked him about "First Tuesdays". He told me that Carmen had thought up this wonderful program while at PS 6, and had set it up there very successfully. I asked him to send me the information, which he did.

On February 1, 2001 Carmen Farina became Superintendent of District 15 and left PS 6. As many of my friends wanted me to run for PTA President at PS 6, I decided to run. On April 24, 2001 I presented my program to the PS 6 community in the auditorium, and noticed Carmen entering the room. She started screaming that I had maligned her name, that no one should vote for me, that I was suing everyone at PS 6 and should never be allowed to run for any office, and other statements equally defamatory. I did not see anyone in the room breathing. Carmen sat down in the front row and glowered at me. I lost to Jane Gordan, who was removed early into the 2002-2003 school year by her own Board.

Carmen never wanted parents to be involved at PS 6, and was often shutting parents out of the school and the classrooms. She does not like School Leadership Teams, as she told us when the "Green Book" on SLT regulations came out, and she told the Executive Board "we are not going to do this." The SLT Bylaws that she wrote with the help of a few members of the Executive Board stated that there were "4 members of the PS 6 SLT: the Principal, the Assistant Principal, the PTA President and the PTA Vice-President. [The regulations are that SLTs must have between 10-17 members]. Article 6.2 of the SLT Bylaws states that " As Open Meetings Law does not, according to Central Board apply to SLTs,"and that parents would not be allowed to attend SLT meetings unless invited. When we parents questioned this policy, we heard that Carmen told the District 2 office that she had received a waiver from the rules. Ms. Gwen Hopkins, at the Board of Education Parent Engagement Office, thought this was very funny. She called me and told me that she heard the waiver claim, and that the one person who had the only copy of this waiver took it with them when they left the BOE. So no one knew where it was. Teachers we spoke to were very happy to see her leave. Below is an email from a retired special education teacher [parentadvocates.org is protecting her by not posting her name]:

"As the parent of a public school student and a retired special education teacher who worked in District 15 during Ms. Farina's tenure as superintendant, I strongly disagree with your take on her. She was autocratic and a whole language and constructivist math fanatic.She came into schools with a nasty attitude and a clipboard checklist and cared only about bulletin boards, word walls, desk arrangements and book leveling. It was Farina who set up the deliberately misleading introduction of the new curriculum at P.S. 172, claiming their remarkable success was due to "Month-by-Month Phonics" when the school had in fact been using Open Court, a highly structured reading program, at the time of the test results. She brought in Laura Kotch, an even colder, nastier proponent of lock-step whole language, who introduced the insidious Month-by-Month Phonics, designed to shut up those of us concerned with results while failing to teach decoding. [any] praise of Carmen Farina was disheartening to many of us who worked with her."

On April 30, 2004, the NY SUN published our letter:

Carmen Farina's Old School:
No one represents, in my opinion, all that is wrong with the New York City Department of Education better than the new acting deputy chancellor for teaching and learning, Carmen Farina. ['Farina's Old School Finds It hard To Match Her Results", Julia Levy, Page 1, April 23, 2004]. I am a former PS 6 parent who believes in transparency, accountability, respect for everyone, and honest reporting of statistics and test results. Carmen, unfortunately, seemed to be not interested in any of these.
She did not believe in School Leadership Teams, so she set up the PS 6 Team with 4 appointed people (the minimum allowed are 10, and all members are supposed to be elected) and wrote Bylaws which clearly opposed any parent involvement - Clause 6.2 of the PS 6 SLT Bylaws reads:
"By directive of the Central School Board, "open meetings" laws do not apply to SLTs, therefore uninvited guests will not be permitted to attend or participate in the meetings."
"Uninvited" guests are, of course, PS 6 parents, teachers, anyone outside the 4 people (who were the Principal, the Assistant Principal, the CSA representative and the PTA President). She pushed these Bylaws through Central by telling everyone that PS 6 had a waiver. No one ever found a copy. 
Carmen, as she always does, retaliated. After leaving PS 6 and in the position of Superintendent of District 15, on April 24, 2001attended the PS 6 PTA meeting at which I spoke about running for PTA President. As soon as I finished my campaign speech she screamed that I should not be elected for undermining her, maligning her name, and other equally defamatory remarks to the 70 or so parents in attendance. No one who was in that room that evening ever forgot this outburst.
Carmen never told us where the Annenberg Challenge For the Arts money was. We saw that PS 6 had some arts programs, but our partner school, PS 198, did not seem to have any. She would not answer our questions. When we asked where the funds for PS 198 were, Carmen went on the attack, and threw the Arts Together Community Partnership, a parent-driven organization designed to help fund and publicize the arts at PS 6 when the Annenberg grant ended, into the garbage. She then accused us of interfering in the allocation of the Annenberg money by hiring and firing the dance teachers, a claim that was totally unfounded and ridiculous. We did stop asking questions, in fear of the welfare of our children at the school.
We were told by teachers that Carmen took the brightest kids randomly out of testing rooms to give them as much time as necessary to complete tests. We would compare notes after the tests to find out which children had been moved to another room.
Carmen stopped the PS 6 Gifted and Talented program, and to the present day parents of exceptionally bright children try to move them elsewhere. She implemented policies of "fuzzy" math and whole language to the extent that many teachers told us "their hands were tied", and "get instruction from a tutor". Scores at the school in math have gone down since she left.
Carmen gathers around her a group of loyal supporters who do not allow anyone to say anything uncomplimentary about her. Nothing anyone says outside of this clique is listened to or respected.
When I was in grade school I learned that history repeats itself. Carmen Farina as Deputy Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education is a step back into the dark ages of school reform where transparent budgets, people respecting the views and opinions of others, and accountability just dont exist.

Betsy Combier
parentadvocates.org

And those "high scores" that PS 6 reports are not what they seem. Parents compared notes on how many of the brightest kids were taken out of the testing room and tested separately - presumably to give these kids all the time in the world, so that they could get perfect scores? These kids certainly did not have special needs or 504 accommodations. The scores themselves are suspect: this just in from our Math experts:
Keep in mind, Carmen Farina left PS 6 in January, 2001. In 2004 the National Academies reported that there is no scientific basis for Carmen's math programs.

~If one tracks cohorts of PS 6 kids (3rd graders in 1999, 4th graders in
2000 and 5th graders in 2001), the number who score in Level 4 in math drops
precipitously each year. 

~In 2000, PS 6 had the greatest decline in District 2 in Performance Level 4
math achievement on the 4th grade test (28% pt drop!) - much greater than
any other schools'. Some schools' 4th grade Level 4 scores actually rose.
Districtwide, 4th grade Level 4 achievement dropped 6% pts that year.
Districtwide, 4th grade passing scores remained flat at 76% passing in 1999
and 2000. 

~In 2001, PS 6 had the greatest decline in Performance Level 4 on the city
test (3rd and 5th grades) (23% pt drop!) - greater than any other school's
Level 4 declines, some schools' Level 4 scores rose. Districtwide, Level
4 scores on the city test dropped 6% pts (same as in 4th grade the year
before ) Districtwide city test passing scores dropped 3% pts, 2000: 61.2
2001: 58.3

~ There were nowhere near the precipitous drops out of Level 4 4th grade
scores (state test)that PS 6 showed (1999-2000) in the other TAG schools. In
the same year (2000-2001) PS 6 Level 4 declines were also highest among TAG
schools on the 3,5,6 grade test (citywide test) One TAG school's scores
improved slightly (PS 11) while the others showed some decline (following
the district trend), PS 124 and PS 130 came close to the level of PS 6
decline. 

Betsy Combier,
Editor, Parentadvocates.org
Founder and President, The E-Accountability Foundation
President, ArtsNexus and The Arts Together Community Partnership (thrown into the garbage by Carmen Farina May, 2000)
PS 6 School Leadership Team Bylaws written by Carmen Farina in 2000NYC Deputy Chancellor Rewards Gifted, Privileged Kids in NYC Public Schools by Raising 4 Years of AP Grades

For more on Carmen Farina and District 2, go to www.nychold.com

Related Articles:False Claims of Special Education Successes Cloud the Bloomberg/Klein Reform

Despite Too Many Questions of Improprieties, Carmen Farina is Named Deputy Chancellor For the New York City DOE
 
The National Problem of School Overcrowding is Victimizing Our Children: Whose Lies Do
YOU Believe? by Betsy Combier  8/16/2005