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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Patrick Walsh On Bloomberg's Education Mess and "Fixers"

Bloomberg for Perpetuity

by patrickwalsh
After 12 years of his machinations, which is four more years than the millions of New Yorkers who twice voted for term limits demanded, it is doubtful that anyone in NYC above the age of, say, five, has any doubts of the completely ruthless and anti- democratic spirit of Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Still, even those who have tasted Bloomberg’s contempt for the democratic process and ethos may be taken aback by the spiteful little man’s latest stunt: the hiring of the consulting firm The Parthenon Group to craft a plan that will preserve Bloomberg’s dreadful Children First Network, a key component in Bloomberg’s destruction of the New York Public School System, created ostensibly to assist principals and teachers in their ever more complex work loads. They are perhaps the only structure in Bloomberg’s DOE that is loathed in equal measure by administrators, teachers and parent groups. The reason for the mass loathing is simple: the Networks are both crazily expensive and largely incompetent. For an extra bonus they are created not out of geographic communities but rather on abstract demographics, the better to insure relationships are as strained and a-human and as corporate as possible.
Nobody seems to know how one is hired and by what criteria. I’ve been advised by “experts” in my field who never taught a day in their life. The same principals who hire Networks somehow also take orders from them and also live in fear of them. For the past year or so, it seems every time I’ve heard the Networks mentioned it was always in the context of how, come January 2014, they would face the same good riddance as their creator Bloomberg. But their creator, it turns out, has other ideas and would like to extend the Networks well into the mayoralty of whoever it is who comes after him regardless if he or she wants it. To be sure, Mike Bloomberg would like to extend all his ideas into perpetuity if he could,just as he would use his billions to purchase an army of shills to defend them, which is just one of the reasons that New Yorkers will rue the day they allowed a sociopath like Bloomberg anywhere near power for a very long time.
See Gotham Schools article below.
JUNE 10, 2013
DOE secretly enlisted Parthenon to devise plan to save networks
by Geoff Decker, at 8:27 pm
Intent on preserving the Bloomberg administration’s education legacy, the Department of Education has hired a favored consulting firm to craft a plan that would safeguard a signature policy.
The city has hired the Parthenon Group to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the system through which principals choose support organizations to provide professional development, curriculum, and budgeting help.
The consulting firm, which has previously studied school closures and small schools for the department, is charged with crafting a strategic vision to ensure that Children First Networks are preserved when another mayor takes over next year.
“While there is no set of actions that can perfectly ensure ‘sustainability’ of the network model, the goal of the project will be to identify a series of steps that can bolster the odds of sustaining those elements the DOE views as most essential,” the firm wrote in its bid for the project. The confidential bid was submitted in April and obtained by GothamSchools.

The Lies of Mike Bloomberg and Dennis Walcott

Council Asks Walcott To Testify,Then 

Calls For a Breather


10:50 am Jun. 4, 2013
New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott momentarily balked at testifying at a City Council budget hearing after he was told he would be sworn in under oath.

At the start of a budet hearing in City Hall this morning, education committee chairman Robert Jackson said, "the administration … indicated they were not notified by us that they would be sworn in" and that the matter "has been resolved for this particular moment."
But the Harlem-based Democrat added, "Let me just say to the chancellor and their staff … every witness will be sworn in, henceforth."
A spokeswoman for the city Department of Education said Walcott responded to the request that he be sworn in by walking over to the mayor's office to consult with officials there.
"The hearing hadn’t started yet when DOE staff walked over to the Mayor’s office side," D.O.E. spokesman Erin Hughes wrote in an email to Capital. "Given that the City is in litigation on some issues that were expected to come up in the hearing, we had to check with counsel to ensure that the unusual process of taking oath wouldn’t pose a problem to those cases.
"It was an unusual request given that no administration official in 12 years has been asked to be sworn in."
Jackson co-chaired this morning's hearing with finance committee chairman Domenic Recchia Jr., of Brooklyn. After Jackson's opening remarks, Recchia greeted Walcott, who then began to read his opening statement. Walcott was not sworn in before he began speaking.
Another lawmaker at the hearing said Council members felt misled by Walcott's testimony at the last hearing, at which he spoke about the school bus strike, and wanted greater assurances about the accuracy of information coming from City Hall.
Some members of the Council have grumbled, quietly to reporters, that the Council has not exercised enough oversight of city agencies because of Speaker Christine Quinn's close working relationship with the mayor.
Later, when Walcott testified, he engaged in a heated exchange with City Councilwoman Letitia James after the Brooklyn lawmaker asked about school bus drivers who reportedly lost their jobs after that recent strike.
At one point Recchia had their microphones turned off and Jackson asked James and Walcott to take a 10-second breather to calm down.
James said she thought Walcott was "making fun" of the issue of bus drivers who lost their jobs.
Walcott replied, "Don't even try it."
Later, James said, "Most of those patrons look like you ... people of color, and you think that's something comical."
Walcott, visibly annoyed, said, "Oh, give me a break."
Recchia intervened shortly afterward.

From Betsy Combier: Make no mistake, Robert Jackson is part of the problem.
Why is it ok to accept the testimony of Dennis Walcott when he would not be placed under oath?

Schools boss Dennis Walcott says city lawyers told him not to testify on $25B education budget

Walcott was slated to speak before the City Council hearing over claims Education Chairman Robert Jackson made about the schools chancellor not being truthful about cost savings from bidding out school bus contracts.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi


Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said city attorneys told him not to testify before City Council over the education department's record $25 billion budget.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said he was just following orders from city lawyers when he refused to testify under oath at Tuesday’s City Council hearing on next year’s record $25 billion education budget.
The swearing-in standoff started because Education Chairman Robert Jackson said he didn’t think Walcott was being truthful about cost savings from bidding out school bus contracts.
When Jackson tried to force Walcott to testify under oath, the schools boss consulted with his legal team and eventually refused. “I came prepared to talk about our budget, the largest budget in education history,” said Walcott. “I thought it was political grandstanding at its best.”
Jackson, who is running for Manhattan borough president, said he will require all speakers to be sworn in at education hearings.

On Petition To Fire NYSED Commissioner John King

Advocacy groups have posted a petition on calling for the removal of John King as state commissioner.

Parents and educators reject King’s blind faith in high-stakes testing and his determination to evaluate educators based on test scores, despite the absence of evidence for this approach and the certain negative consequences.
(references substantiating each charge available
John King has served as New York State Commissioner of Education since 2011. During his tenure, the quality of education in NY has continued to decline; particularly in poor and rural districts.1 The Commissioner’s solutions rely upon blindly accepting NCLB, RTTT and Common Core policies and implementing more high-stakes, standardized testing for evaluation of students and teachers,2 implementation of an untested national curriculum,3 undemocratic corporate management strategies for operating schools,4 more privatization of schools5 and insistence that poverty-related conditions are not an excuse for low student achievement.6 
Furthermore, Commissioner King: 
· Refuses to lend credibility to staff and community-voiced concerns that much of Common Core curriculum and testing is developmentally inappropriate for students, and that NYS teachers received no significant training for the implementation of Common Core,7 
· Refuses to allow meaningful dialogue about Common Core tests by imposing a “gag order” on teachers and administrators, preventing them from discussing test questions among themselves or with students,8 
· Supports policy to allow private corporate vendors to have access to personal student data, without parental consent, for the purpose of marketing educational services,9 and 
· Remains silent on the stress-related suffering by many students taking recent Common Core tests,10 
· Promotes the reduction of the reading of fiction in favor of an increase in informational texts (50% informational texts in elementary school, and 70% for 12th grade readings by 2014)11 with the generally predicted impact of a further reduction in the joy of reading and learning for all students especially those with learning challenges,12 

.Continues to advocate more high-stakes, standardized testing, despite research concluding that it is ineffective for motivating students and increasing their learning,13 and 
· Continues to ignore positive research results for the use of performance-based assessment, such as portfolios, performances, presentations and exhibitions, by more NYS schools,14 
· Advocates for more closings and privatization of low-performing schools,15 despite research indicating that charter schools are generally less effective than public schools,16 and promote more racial and class-based segregation,17 and create negative impact on community morale, motivation and development,18 
· Advocates the use of poorly designed, ineffective corporate strategies, such as APPR, which de-professionalize teaching,19 
We, the undersigned, strongly believe that New York State’s education reform agenda is fundamentally flawed and must be re-directed in a humanistic, research-based manner; directly counter to the direction Commissioner King has taken. New York State children, parents and teachers need an education commissioner who passionately supports and actively works for: 
· De-concentrating the impact of poverty in classrooms and schools, 
· Institutionalizing performance-based assessments, 
· Ending the obsessive use of high-stakes, standardized testing, 
· Developing creative, alternative curriculum, assessments and schools, 
· Assisting poverty-stricken, low-performing schools through collaboration with teachers, parents community members and students, rather than through closures and privatization, 
· Ending corporate reform, 
· Using school practitioners and constructivist-oriented consultants for developing and implementing curriculum & assessments, 
· Implementing a moratorium on the Common Core Curriculum, 
· Transforming the NYSED to serve as helpful consultants to schools and school districts, rather than enforcers of top-down policies that are disrespectful to teachers and harmful to students.
Therefore, we, the undersigned respectfully urge the NYS Board of Regents to terminate the employment of John King as NYS Education Commissioner, and immediately search for, and hire a candidate who strongly reflects the characteristics described above.

New York State Board of Regents, Same as above 
Terminate the employment of State Education Commissioner, John King 
[Your name]

Charter Founder Is Named Education Commissioner

John King was unanimously elected New York State's
education commissioner by the Board of Regents on Monday.
John B. King Jr., who credits teachers for helping him surmount an isolated childhood as an orphan in Brooklyn and who ran celebrated charter schools in New York and Massachusetts, was named Monday as the state’s next education commissioner, with a unanimous vote of the Board of Regents.
Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times
John King with his daughters Amina and Mireya on Monday, before his election.
At 36, Dr. King, who previously served as deputy commissioner, will be among the nation’s youngest educational leaders, though he had been the clear front-runner since the current commissioner, David M. Steiner, announced in April that he would resign.
After losing both of his parents to illness by age 12, Dr. King earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a law degree from Yale and a doctorate in education from Columbia. In between, he co-founded Roxbury Prep, a top charter middle school in Massachusetts; led Uncommon Schools, a network of charters based in New York; and married and had two daughters.
His drive, he said in an interview on Sunday, comes from a sense of urgency to create for other children the  refuge he  found as a fourth grader at Public School 276 in Canarsie, the year his mother died of heart failure. His teacher that year, Alan Osterweil, was dynamic and creative, encouraging him to read Shakespeare and memorize the leaders and capital of every country in the world. Later, Celestine DeSaussure, a social studies teacher whom the children called Miss D, made him the sportscaster in a fake Aztec newscast.
 “Having gone to New York City public schools, that quite literally saved my life,” he said, “I feel an incredible devotion to make that possible for more kids.”
Dr. King, who will be New York’s first African-American and first Puerto Rican education commissioner, was part of a circle of idealistic charter-school founders in Boston who experimented with longer school days, strict rules to guide student behavior and ways to hold teachers accountable for student performance. They raised expectations for poor students, and sought to form close relationships with children while reshaping teaching into a more quantifiable science.
Since joining the state Education Department in 2009, Dr. King worked with Dr. Steiner on an ambitious agenda that shares some of those goals, and he takes the helm at a critical moment. The state is on a tight timeline to implement data-driven teacher evaluations, create computer systems to track student progress, toughen curricular standards and open more charter schools. Dr. King helped broker a fragile peace with the state’s main teachers’ union to begin those changes last year, but continuing disputes, particularly over the state’s proposed use of standardized tests to rate teachers, periodically disrupt it.
If Dr. Steiner, a mild-mannered classics professor who will be returning to his post as dean of the education school at Hunter College this summer, was the intellectual driver of the plan, Dr. King was the details person, preferring to sit in a room eating takeout and crunching numbers rather than dipping into Albany politics, which he found frustrating and divisive.
“There is a tremendous amount of work in turning the big ideas into real change,” he said in the interview.
Richard C. Iannuzzi, president of the statewide teachers’ union, expressed some concern about Dr. King’s background and perspective on hot-button issues like school choice and teacher evaluation systems. “My hope will be that he remembers that in his new role, he represents all of public education and not exclusively an interest that he’s been aligned to in the past,” Mr. Iannuzzi said.
Dr. King was born in 1975 in Flatlands, Brooklyn. His father, John B. King Sr., was a 66-year-old retired public school teacher and administrator, who had been the first African-American principal in Brooklyn and later, the city’s executive deputy superintendent of schools. His mother, Adalinda King, was a guidance counselor born in Puerto Rico, who met her future spouse when he taught her in a graduate program.
Dr. King’s mother was working at a middle school when she had a fatal heart attack at 48; Dr. King was 8. His father soon afterward began to show signs of advancing Alzheimer’s, leaving young John to cook, shop and more or less fend for himself until age 12, when Mr. King also died, at 79.
Dr. King went to live with his 24-year-old half brother on Long Island, then briefly attended Phillips Andover, an elite New England boarding school, where he rebelled against the strict curfews and cut class. He was expelled as a junior.
“I sort of resented adult authority,” he said. “At the time I felt like adults had let me down in my life.”
An uncle and aunt in Cherry Hill, N.J., took him in. When it came time to apply to college, Dr. King poured his heart out explaining his circumstances in his Harvard essay, and was accepted.
“Hollywood used to make movies about people like John King,” said Wade S. Norwood, a Regents member, who formally nominated Dr. King for the new job on Monday.
One of Dr. King’s most vivid memories of Harvard is of standing on the bridge over the Charles River, surrounded by the glinting, reflecting spires of the college.
“I would go to the bridge and just think, how could they possibly let me in here,” he said. “There must have been some kind of mistake.”
Dr. King decided he wanted to become a social studies teacher, and earned his master’s from Teachers College at Columbia University. After three years of teaching, two in a charter school in Boston, he was asked to help start Roxbury Prep.
 Dr. King spent five years there as co-director, putting in 12-hour days designing the curriculum and the structure — students may not talk in the hallways between classes, for example — within which teachers and students can improvise. He then moved to New York to help startUncommon Schools, which now has 24 charters.
He now lives in Slingerlands, outside of Albany, with his wife, Melissa, a researcher for Scholastic Inc., whom he met on a blind date while both were teachers in Boston. Their two children, Amina, 7, and Mareya, 4, attend a Montessori school.
Over the past two years, he has been courted for several prominent education leadership positions, including the superintendent’s seat in Newark, by Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook executive who has pledged $100 million to that city’s troubled schools.
But Dr. King said he wanted to stay in New York because of his personal ties and his desire to finish what he started with Dr. Steiner. His salary will be $212,500, up from the $186,500 he earned as deputy, but, at his request, less than the $250,000 given to Dr. Steiner.
Thomas Kaplan contributed reporting from Albany.