A close-up look at NYC education policy, politics,and the people who have been, are now, or will be affected by these actions and programs. ATR CONNECT assists individuals who suddenly find themselves in the ATR ("Absent Teacher Reserve") pool and are the "new" rubber roomers, people who have been re-assigned from their life and career. A "Rubber Room" is not a place, but a process.
What kind of tunes do you think Iago,
the villain in William Shakespeare’s “Othello,” would listen to if he had an
That is the kind of question that Laura Randazzo, an exuberant
English teacher, often dreams up to challenge her students at Amador Valley
High School in Pleasanton, Calif.
So, when Ms. Randazzo heard about TeachersPayTeachers.com,
a virtual marketplace where educators can buy and sell lesson plans, she was
curious to find out whether the materials she had created for her own students
would appeal to other educators.
“For a buck, a teacher has a really good tool that she can use
with any work of literature,” Ms. Randazzo said in a phone interview last week.
“Kids love it because it’s fun. But it’s also rigorous because they have to
support their characterizations with evidence.”
She clearly has a knack for understanding the kinds of classroom
aids that other teachers are looking for. One of her best-selling items is a
full-year collection of high school grammar, vocabulary and literature
exercises. It has generated sales on TeachersPayTeachers of about $100,000.
Speaking from her tiny home office, formerly a bedroom closet,
Ms. Randazzo still sounded amazed at her success.
“What started out as a hobby has turned into a business,” she
Teachers often spend hours preparing classroom lesson plans to
reinforce the material students are required to learn, and many share their
best materials with colleagues. Founded in 2006, TeachersPayTeachers speeds up
this lesson-plan prep work by monetizing exchanges between teachers and
enabling them to make faster connections with farther-flung colleagues.
As some on the site develop sizable and devoted audiences,
TeachersPayTeachers.com is fostering the growth of a hybrid profession:
teacher-entrepreneur. The phenomenon has even spawned its own neologism: teacherpreneur.
To date, Teacher Synergy, the company behind the site, has paid
about $175 million to its teacher-authors, says Adam Freed, the company’s chief
executive. The site takes a 15 percent commission on most sales.
A former chief operating officer of Etsy and former director of
international product management at Google, Mr. Freed is a veteran of
data-driven growth companies. By selling tens of thousands of items, he says,
12 teachers on the site have become millionaires and nearly 300 teachers have
earned more than $100,000. On any given day, the site has about 1.7 million
lesson plans, quizzes, work sheets, classroom activities and other items
available, typically for less than $5. Last month alone, Mr. Freed added, more
than one million teachers in the United States downloaded material, including
free and fee-based products, from the site.
“If you have a kid in school in America, they are interacting
somewhere with TeachersPayTeachers’ content,” Mr. Freed said in an interview
last week at the company’s headquarters in Manhattan.
Mr. Freed took the helm of Teacher Synergy in 2014. One of his
first tasks was to bring the technology behind the homespun company up to date
without introducing radical changes that might upset its following. That goal
has become more urgent now that TES Global, a British company with its own
teacher-to-teacher marketplace, has entered the American market.
Last week, for instance, TeachersPayTeachers introduced an
iPhone app from which educators can buy materials. The app replaced an older
version that allowed users to look up products but, oddly enough, not to
“We were not a technology company until very recently. We were a
teaching marketplace with a technology underlay,” Mr. Freed said. “Now we are
trying to be both.”
The site’s popularity with teachers reflects the convergence of
a number of trends in education and technology.
For one thing, school districts around the country have been
introducing new learning objectives, called Common Core state standards, for
different grade levels. That has sent tens of thousands of educators to
TeachersPayTeachers looking for lessons to reinforce particular math and
reading standards — like the requirement that sixth graders and older students
be able to delineate and evaluate the argument in a given text.
At a time when many politicians, technology executives and
philanthropists are pushing novel digital tools for education, many teachers
are also seeking old-school offline techniques that other teachers have
perfected over the years in their classrooms. That has positioned
TeachersPayTeachers as a kind of Etsy for education.
“A lot of the stuff you see in the digital world that is
interactive, teachers are making them in analog form,” Mr. Freed said, noting
that many teacher-to-teacher products are PDF or zip files meant to be
downloaded and printed out.
As an example, he cited an “Interactive Reading Literature
Notebook,” developed by Ms. Cobb. In her lesson plans, “interactive” does not
refer to digital video or audio. It means students are asked to actively learn
by, in part, cutting out and gluing assignments into their notebooks, taking
deep notes in class and sometimes even drawing illustrations to demonstrate
that they understood the reading.
“There’s a lot of creativity and innovation,” Mr. Freed said,
“but it is tried and true in a lot of its methodology.”
For teachers, building a successful business on
TeachersPayTeachers may also entail a lot of work.
To draw attention to the tools she developed for
TeachersPayTeachers, for instance, Ms. Randazzo, the English teacher, started a
teaching blog where she recounts her experiences or highlights
resources she finds interesting. She also recently started a YouTube channel in
response to requests from other teachers who asked her to demonstrate how
to teach complicated concepts like irony.
She added that many teachers considered TeachersPayTeachers
credible because they can find ideas from more experienced teachers who face
the same classroom challenges they do.
“That is what ground-level teachers are able to do that textbook
publishers can’t,” Ms. Randazzo said.
Great job, Chief Justice Barbara Madsen!! Judge Madsen ruled that charter schools are unconstitutional because there is no vote by the public on the allocation of public money:
"Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote that charter schools aren't "common schools" because they're governed by appointed rather than elected boards.
Therefore "money that is dedicated to common schools is unconstitutionally diverted to charter schools," Madsen wrote."
Judge Madsen put into words what we at ADVOCATZ have been saying since Michael Cardozo and Mike Bloomberg took away Constitutional rights in NYC by appointing all members of the NYC so-called 'school board', the Panel For Educational Policy.
Supreme Court Rules
Washington Charter Schools Are Unconstitutional LINK
Washington Education Association news release, 9/4/15
Contact: Rich Wood, 253-376-1007
Supreme Court rules Washington charter schools are unconstitutional
Public school educators are applauding the Washington Supreme Court’s 6-3
decision ruling that the state’s charter school law is unconstitutional because
charters siphon money from public schools and are not accountable to local
The court ruled Washington’s entire charter school law is unconstitutional.
“The Supreme Court has affirmed what we’ve said all along – charter schools
steal money from our existing classrooms, and voters have no say in how these
charter schools spend taxpayer funding,” said Kim Mead, president of the Washington
Along with El Centro de la Raza, the Washington Association of School
Administrators and the League of Women Voters, WEA is part of the coalition
that challenged the charter school law.
The court ruled that charter schools do not meet the definition of “common
schools” under the constitution because they are not subject to local voter
control, and therefore the state cannot spend common school funding on charter
“Under the Act, charter schools are devoid of local control from their
inception to their daily operation,” the court wrote.
Mead said the court ruling is another reminder of the state Legislature’s
failure to fully fund basic education as required by the state Constitution.
The Supreme Court is currently fining the Legislature $100,000 a day for
failing to develop a plan for fully funding K-12 education as required by the
court’s McCleary decision.
“Instead of diverting taxpayer dollars to unaccountable charter schools, it’s
time for the Legislature to fully fund K-12 public schools so that all of
Washington’s children get the quality education the Constitution guarantees
them,” Mead said.
Washington state Supreme Court rules that charter schools are
SEATTLE — After nearly a year of deliberation, Washington state's Supreme Court
ruled 6-3 late Friday afternoon that charter schools are unconstitutional.
The ruling overturns the law voters narrowly approved in 2012 allowing publicly
funded, but privately operated, schools.
Eight new charter schools are opening in Washington this fall in addition to
one that opened in Seattle last year.
It was not immediately known what would happen with charter schools that have
already enrolled students.
The parties will have 20 days to ask the court for reconsideration before the
ruling becomes final.
Chief Justice Barbara Madsen
wrote that charter schools aren't "common schools" because they're
governed by appointed rather than elected boards.
Therefore "money that is dedicated to common schools is unconstitutionally
diverted to charter schools," Madsen wrote.
The ruling is a victory for the coalition that filed the suit in July 2013,
asking a judge to declare the law unconstitutional for "improperly
diverting public-school funds to private organizations that are not subject to
local voter control."
The Washington Education Association was joined by
the League of Women Voters of Washington, El Centro de la Raza, the Washington
Association of School Administrators and several individual plaintiffs.
"The Supreme Court has affirmed what we've said all along — charter
schools steal money from our existing classrooms, and voters have no say in how
these charter schools spend taxpayer funding," said Kim Mead, president of
the Washington Education Association said in a prepared statement.
Immediate reaction from the state attorney general's office and the state
commission that authorizes charter schools was not available.
David Postman, communications director for Gov. Jay Inslee, said the governor's
office is reviewing the court's decision and will consult with the attorney
"But until we have a thorough analysis we can't say what that means for
schools operating today," Postman said. "The Supreme Court has
remanded the case for 'an appropriate order' and we will have to see what the
lower court fashions to comply with the Supreme Court's opinion."
Tom Franta, leader of the Washington State Charter Schools Association, said he
was waiting to hear back from the nonprofit's attorney to find out what happens
"We haven't had a chance to debrief the opinion with attorneys, with what
does happen next with the schools that are open," he said. There are 1,200
children enrolled in eight charter schools, and all but one — First Place in
Seattle — has already opened for the school year, he said.
GOP state Rep. Chad Magendanz, ranking member on the House Education Committee,
said he was stunned by the decision.
"I'm shocked, I'm worried about the political aspects about this,"
said Magendanz. The court is becoming too much of "a political
animal," said Magendanz, a supporter of charter schools as a way to
promote competition and innovation.
Under the 2012 law, up to 40 new charter schools could have opened in
Washington over a five-year period.
(Times staff reporter Joseph O'Sullivan contributed to this report.)