Archive for November, 2010

Faust in Gotham

Faust in Gotham

You never taught inside a school,
While dabbling in the classics,
And yet, you do o’er teachers rule,
Who teach the children basics.

From Marcy Mount to Brooklyn and
From Buffalo to sea,
You rule o’er K-12, and more,
In all your majesty.

And yet, when Bloomberg roars, you squeak,
And toss upon your bed.
You now are grown, and yet, you leave
Your sheets and mattress wet.

Oh Steiner, where’s your backbone gone?
Why do you bow and dither?
Arise, and do your duty, man!
Ask not of Bloomberg, “Whither?”

They say, you’re not a socialite,.
But you were raised elite.
Your father was a famous man,
But was he so effete?

You backed the charters, and you’ve been
With Bloomberg until now.
But now, we have a crisis and
You’re having, see, a cow!

You’re used, like once the English were,
To bow down to your king.
And yet, your conscience tells you that
He doesn’t know a thing.

Not business — that he knows too well.
But teaching children, see!
The ones, who know, are targeted,
By President’s decree.

And all that “education” stuff
That you and your kind preach,
Are now perceived as naught but fluff,
For “Anyone can teach!”

And teachers are but like the ones
That Bloomberg rode from high.
He sends down little CEO’s,
Who parachute from sky.

Ah, David, you are now that Faust,
Who pacted with the Devil.
You listen to the gramophone,
To dull the sense of evil.

You sold your soul and now repent,
And yet cannot resist.
With Satan, you would compromise,
And from the truth, desist.

Oh David, have we so misjudged
And slandered you today?
Then prove us wrong, and do what’s right,
As Joel slinks away.

Arjun Janah      < >
2010 November 25th, Friday

Diversity and Teach for America

by Jonathan Halabi
(documents from Seattle battle with TfA are at the bottom, below the fold)

Last Monday I tried to amend an Exec Board resolution about increasing diversity in the workplace. I was concerned about how the resolution handled Teach for America.  I’ll explain:

For the last 10 years, as alternate certification through the New York City Teaching Fellows and Teach for America has gone up, the number of new Black and Hispanic educators has gone down. Decades of progress has been undone. New Action helped get the Economic and Social Justice Committee working on this. A report was generated; a resolution crafted. The final statement read:

Be It Further Resolved that the UFT through its own efforts and in conjunction with the Department of Education persuade the Teach for America program to expand its pool of potential teachers to include more teachers of diverse backgrounds and advocate that both Teach for America and the NYC Teaching Fellows actively recruit more African-American and Latino teachers.

Now, the rest of the resolution says that we will “demand” of the DoE or use “all of [our] resources to compel…” But here we were going to make nice with them, and persuade TfA? Just an objection to tone, right?

More seriously, the resolution misunderstands what Teach for America is.  TfA is an ideologically-driven, anti-union club. It draws, mostly, from elite colleges and universities. Its recruits in the majority teach only for two years, not because they can’t hack it, but by design. They move on to education policy, education administration, charter schools, foundations, etc, etc, by design.  With a two-year career, they also model burnout-pace test-prep, sometimes boosting scores, always adding instability, often cheating real learning.

AND THEY DISPLACE LOCAL RECRUITS, far more likely to make long-term commitments to our students and their schools, and far more likely to be Black or Hispanic. Teach for America whitens the teaching force by design. We have numbers in New York City that support this point. In 1990 new teacher recruitment was under 30% Black and Hispanic. From 1994 – 2001 it was up over 40%. But under Klein it fell immediately back down to 1 in 4. This coincides with TfA coming to NYC, persuasively.

Teach for America was part of a discussion about teacher shortage. Districts, including NYC, pay a bounty of thousands of dollars for each TfA (temporary) teacher. But TfA has been muscling into districts with no shortage of teacher. Sacramento just turned them down, good on them. But the latest is Seattle, where a very public debate occurred before the district agreed to pay Michelle Rhee’s corps $4 thousand per teacher to reduce minority hiring.

My amendment (to remove the above-quoted resolved) was defeated. There may have been some confusion with the Teaching Fellows, my fault. We may have some leaders who mistakenly want to engage TfA. But the problem remains in front of us: We should not be discussing with Teach for America how to recruit better, we should be planning how to keep them out of New York. Our commitment to our schools, to our students, and to diversity demands that of us.

A few Seattle documents, the union reaction, a teacher’s reaction, a parent’s reaction, and a link to a long discussion, are below the fold: Continue reading ‘Diversity and Teach for America’

Stop the Waiver – Sign the Petitions

Have you signed both petitions to deny a waiver to Cathie Black, the nominee for NYC Chancellor? She does not have the necessary credentials (actually ANY education credentials)

One petition urges NYS Education Commissioner, David M. Steiner to deny the waiver (click here). The other, initiated by NYC Kids PAC, will generate e-mails to the Commissioner, his deputy, the Board of Regents, and your own State Senator and Assemblyperson (click here).

Please sign both now.

Several years ago, when discussing Mayoral control of the schools New Action urged the UFT Executive Board to recommend that there be NO waiver for Chancellor. Then-president Weingarten rejected the idea. We can’t allow the Mayor to screw us twice. Again, please sign the petition. Thank you.

The text of the petitions follows:

Deny a waiver to Cathleen Black; she is unqualified to become NYC Chancellor!

Targeting: The NY State Senate, The NY State House, Board of Regents, see more…The NY State Senate, The NY State House, Board of Regents, David M. Steiner (Commissioner, NYS Education Department), John B. King (Deputy Commissioner, NYS Education Department), State Sen. Dean Skelos (NY-009), State Sen. John Sampson (NY-019), and State Rep. Sheldon Silver (NY-064)
Started by: NYC Kids Pac

Mayor Bloomberg has appointed Cathleen Black as the new NYC Schools Chancellor to succeed Joel Klein.  Ms. Black is a corporate executive and magazine publisher who has no education experience, did not attend public school herself, and sent her children to private boarding schools in Connecticut.  Her background does not qualify her to lead a school system of 1.1 million public school students.

NY state law requires that candidates for school superintendency who do not meet minimal requirements must receive a waiver from Education Commissioner David Steiner. This waiver is to be issued only to persons “whose exceptional training and experiences are the substantial equivalent of such requirements and qualify such persons for the duties of a superintendent of schools.”  Ms. Black has no “exceptional” training or experiences that would qualify her for this position.

NYC has had nine long years of a chancellor who was not an educator.  NYC public school students have suffered enough with crowded classrooms, inflated test scores, and parents shut out of the system.  Our children can only be saved if we have an educator as Chancellor, and who understands what a quality education really means. The waiver must be denied.

Take action now by signing our petition, and your letter will be sent immediately to Commissioner Steiner, the Board of Regents, and the entire NY State Legislature. Please also follow up with a call to the Commissioner’s office at (518) 474-5844.

Thank you for supporting our kids.


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Denial of NYC Chancellor Waiver

Dear Commissioner David M. Steiner,

Today, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his appointment of Cathie Black to replace Joel Klein as Chancellor of New York City Schools. Ms. Black, currently executive vice president of Hearst Magazines, lacks the required educational and professional qualifications for the position of Schools Chancellor as determined by state law. As a result, she will require a waiver from your office in order to accept the appointment.

The children, parents, and educational community of New York City deserve a leader with experience in education. Ms. Black’s corporate experience may well qualify her for executive positions in business, but the education of our children and the training of our teachers is not corporate business. We urge you, as an educator, to:

~Deny the necessary waiver for Ms. Black’s appointment

~Reaffirm the qualification requirements for NYC Schools Chancellor