Thursday, July 20, 2017

Dem Centrists Need To Read About Rwanda on Health Care

I'm amazed at how the so-called liberal press lets the Democrats off the hook. Eduardo Porter has a good piece in the Times about single payer health care around the world in a letter to Republicans. He might as well have included most of our Democratic Party leaders. This article should be read out aloud in every hall of legislature and also to convince the public -- instead we hear all about Russia all the time. This would be the best way to fight Trump and the Republicans but the Dems spin their wheels.

In Health Care, Republicans Could Learn From Rwanda

Republicans, you are probably tired of hearing how so many Americans are sicker than their peers in other rich countries, lacking access to needed medical care. There are only so many times one can take being unfavorably compared to Denmark.
As you regroup after the collapse of your bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, hoping to figure out some new approach to dismember it, you might want to think not about Denmark, but about Rwanda.

Rwanda’s economy adds up to some $700 per person, less than one-eightieth of the average economic output of an American. A little more than two decades ago it was shaken by genocidal interethnic conflict that killed hundreds of thousands. Still today, a newborn Rwandan can expect to live to 64, 15 years less than an American baby.

But over the past 15 years or so, Rwanda has built a near-universal health care system that covers more than 90 percent of the population, financed by tax revenue, foreign aid and voluntary premiums scaled by income.

It is not perfect. A comparative study of health reform in developing countries found that fewer than 60 percent of births there were attended by skilled health workers. Still, access to health care has improved substantially even as the financial burden it imposes on ordinary Rwandans has declined. On average, Rwandans see a doctor almost twice a year, compared with once every four years in 1999.

Rwandan lives may be short, but they are 18 years longer than they were at the turn of the century — double the average increase of their peers in sub-Saharan Africa.

More than 97 percent of Rwandan infants are vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae Type B, polio, measles, rubella, pneumococcus and rotavirus, noted a 2014 study led by Dr. Paul Farmer, of Harvard Medical School, and Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, then Rwanda’s health minister.

Almost all Rwandan adolescent girls are vaccinated against human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer. That compares with about four in 10 girls in the United States.

Republicans, I know Rwanda — with its poverty, illiteracy and autocratic government — is not in the same peer group as the United States. But in some dimensions of health care, it gives the United States a run for its money.

Its infant mortality rate, for one, dropped by almost three-quarters since 2000, to 31 per 1,000 births in 2015, vastly outpacing the decline in its region. In the United States, by contrast, infant mortality declined by about one-fifth over the period, to 5.6 per 1,000 births. In Portugal — a developed country that is not quite as rich — it fell by almost half, to 3.

Critically, Rwanda may impress upon you an idea that has captured the imagination of policy makers in even the poorest corners of the world: Access to health care might be thought of as a human right. The idea is inspiring countries from Ghana to Thailand and from Mexico to China to develop, within their political and financial limitations, universal health care systems to offer some measure of access to all.


Politics. My Doctor, Democrats and Cuomo the Slime

I seem to be going to a variety of specialists every week for various minor issues. A year ago I had one primary and one specialist. Now I have five. Monday's visit was to an infectious disease guy. Next week to the urologist.

I made my annual trek to my politically conservative skin doctor yesterday to check out some of those pesky pre-cancer skin spots (he removed two).

At every visit, after we finish official business, he loves to talk politics, as I seem to be one of the few lefties he comes across. Yesterday he indicated he was a climate change denier when he said "How come there were ice ages?" -- which coming from someone connected to science, made me think, "What else doesn't he know?" I responded that, yes there will one day be another ice age but in the meantime we are in a heating period as there have been in the past and since this is the first one with billions of humans running around how could be not have an impact on climate, unless we believe the last heating period was caused by dinosaur breath?

He hated Obama and Hillary and at last year's visit which was in the height of the election season, he clearly wasn't comfortable with Trump. So yesterday I was looking forward to his views on Trump. He figured I would be pretty bummed at the outcome. I told him I was enjoying the Trump/Republican follies and the Democrats were so bad, they would shoot themselves in the foot.

"I think Trump will not  last very long," was his comment. I responded that I think Trump can be re-elected in 2020, which shocked him. He repeated that Trump won't last out his term. I said the next president would be the first woman president - Ivanka Trump. He left the room laughing.

I was only half serious.

Which leads me to Andrew Cuomo, one of a horde of Democrats positioning themselves for 2020. The Republican debates of 2016 will look like a small gathering by the time we see this crew out there.

A close member of my family, who will remain nameless due to the fact I won't be eating dinner if I mention that person's name, was a strong Hillary supporter and couldn't understand how I could waste my vote on Bernie and consider voting 3rd party in the general election (which I didn't). This anonymous person despises Cuomo so much - and not because of his positions on education, etc, but just for general reasons of slimy despicableness. So I asked if it came down to a Trump/Cuomo election would she vote for Cuomo.
"Absolutely not," was the response. Now she knows how so many people could not pull the lever for Hillary. I won't vote for Cuomo under any circumstances either.

Read Arthur Goldstein's blog today for more on His Dispicibleness.

Wolf in Bernie Sanders' Clothing

Monday, July 17, 2017

MORE's 7/12/17 Hardcore Contract Training Notes

Here is a draft of the notes at the MORE Hard Core Contract Training event last week -- a very difficult job given the range and number of people there and the wide range of issues discussed. If you were there and we missed something or you want to amend leave a comment or email me. Thanks to Jia Lee for doing such an often thankless task and putting these preliminary notes together.

This didn't turn into a training session as there weren't a lot  of specific contractual issues raised -- the paperwork issue was on the table as were bulletin board issues where there are possible contractual remedies. More details in a follow-up post later in the week.


We view this event not as a one-off but a springboard to further discussions to try to devolve solutions. We will be contacting the participants to get more feedback.


Farina Political Coverup on Yeshiva Education

Pro-secular-education Jewish group Yaffed triggered the review in July 2015 after sending a letter to education officials, identifying 39 New York City yeshivas it says do not provide academic instruction required by state law. The review has lagged, according to critics, who accuse the city of purposely stalling... NY Daily News
Carmen Farina denies stalling of probe into yeshivas is political ..... What a load of horseshit
For years a group of former Hasidic students have been trying to get the DOE to address the scandalous educational conditions and outright misuse of public money in the yeshivas. I have lots of tape from their appearances at PEP meetings time after time, only to be stonewalled by Farina and her minions.

We all know what is happening -- de Blasio political pandering to the Hasidic community which votes as a block.

So in this Daily News report that there is a delay in the DOE investigation we at least see the press beginning to pay attention to serious stuff instead of chasing de Blasio around on his frivolous stuff.
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/probe-nyc-yeshivas-teaching-practices-summer-article-1.3330746

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Memo From the RTC: “The Producers” Attract International Cast

We are officially into HELL Week - full rehearsals every night starting tomorrow before opening Friday night. (I reported in a previous Memo from the RTC: Memo from the RTC: Adolph Hitler Coming to Rockaway).

I have a small role, playing the judge near the end of the play in Act 2. So you might think I can sit back and enjoy the show, but instead I am fully invested during the entire show in moving scenery between scenes. I will never get to see the entire show as the audience does, other than scenes from the wings and I can't watch the scene before I appear in as I am outside waiting to load in my props.

This is one of the funniest shows I've seen with a cast that delivers on every level.

Come on down:
Here are the dates and times:
Friday, Saturday nights - July, 21, 22, 28, 29, Aug. 5, 6 at 8PM.
Sunday matinees - July 23, 30, Aug. 6 at 2 PM
Thursday eve, July 27 at 8 PM ( possibly the best time to get tickets.)

Ways to get tickets:

Here is my latest column from Friday's WAVE:

Memo From the RTC: “The Producers” Attract International Cast
By Norm Scott

Veronika Bochynek , Craig Evans, Masumi Iwai
The Rockaway Theatre Company has developed quite a stable of talent over the years, some involved for a decade or more. They have become local RTC stars. We have watched an entire generation of performers, some of them so young we were able to watch them grow up before our eyes. And many of them are involved in the upcoming production of “The Producers.”
Jeremy Plyburn

But one of the impressive things about the people running the RTC is how they are always seeking out new talent. When new faces show up at the Rockaway Theatre Company to act, sing, and dance in the various productions, I’m always interested in the process that led them to the Post Theatre in Fort Tilden, especially those originally from outside Rockaway.

Newcomer Craig Evans, who plays Leopold Bloom (Matthew Broderick in the play and Gene Wilder in the movie), comes to the RTC, locally, from his home in Arverne by the Sea, but internationally, from western Canada, a nation that sends us a lot of talent. Craig fits that mold perfectly as someone who can play leading male roles in musicals (he can sing, dance and act). Craig is an experienced and former professional performer who has appeared off-Broadway and once held an Actors Equity card. Having a talent who is local to Rockaway bodes well for future projects. From what I’ve seen at rehearsals he will be a big hit.

Also new to the RTC is Craig’s co-star, West Virginia native Jeremy Plyburn, who plays Max Bialystock. (Nathan Lane in the play and Zero Mostel in the movie). OK, so though technically West Virginia is not international, don’t quibble. I only got to speak to Jeremy briefly but discovered he did a lot of community theater around his home town of Huntington WV and in NYC has done a lot of comedy club work. That makes perfect sense after watching Jeremy delivering a laugh a minute while doing Max. Physically he is tall and thinner than the Max type and at first I thought he didn’t quite fit the physical type but he plays so well into it. And that fat suit he wears really works. Watching Jeremy and Craig work together would make you think they were a long-time team instead of having just met for this play.

There two new female dancers coming from far and away in the production.
Dancer Masumi Iwai is from Nagoya, Japan, the 3rd dancer from that nation we’ve had at the RTC over the past two years. Masumi lights up the stage with her dancing and big smile. She is learning English very fast, especially with the jokes in “The Producers” coming fast and furious.

Veronika Bochynek is an elegant dancer from Stuttgart, Germany. A play with some of the cast putting on heavy German accents must give her quite a kick. She is a music educator and is working on a thesis related to historical roots of tap-dancing, which she also practices assiduously by taking classes. RTC audiences will notice her right away.
The RTC is also thrilled to have back another Japanese dancer, the spectacular Atsushi Eda, who has appeared in Guys and Dolls and last year’s La Cage Aux Folles. Atsushi’s dancing is so athletic, it is hard for the audience to take their eyes off him when he is on stage. Atsushi recently had a role in a regional theater production in New Jersey.

That the RTC is attracting such professional level talent is quite an achievement for an outer, outer borough operation. The RTC is one of the great features Rockaway has to offer.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

School Scope: Erich Ulrich Loves Bo Dietl, ATRs, Charters

I wrote this column for this week's Wave but it didn't get in.


School Scope: A Bit of Riff and a Bit of Raff
By Norm Scott

Summer should be a slow season for ed news, but things never seem to slow down. Here are a few push button issues that you might want to google if interested.

DOE to place 400 teachers from ATR pool
In the old days, teachers got assigned to schools based on seniority. Now it’s a free market system. If your school is closed down or there are an excess of teachers in your license area, instead of being assigned permanently to a school, as people were pre-2005 contract, they are put in a pool and rotated from school to school. Unfairly, the entire pool has been branded in the press as incompetent. Some teachers did undergo disciplinary hearings and were fined or suspended. Some of these cases were instances where principals were retaliating against outspoken teachers or those who insisted on their union rights. (I attended some of their hearings and saw for myself from the testimony.) Due to rules instituted in 2008 by Joel Klein, known as Fair School Funding, school budgets are penalized for hiring higher salaried teachers, not only a major disincentive to hire senior ATRS, but also an incentive to pressure long-time senior teachers to retire or leave the school. The Dept. of Education has decided to start draining the ATR pool by assigning 400 of them to permanent placement in schools. If principals are charged for having to carry high salaried teachers, they won’t be very happy. Will the DOE to work something out to soothe the pain?

Charter teacher certification rules loosened
To become a certified teacher in NY State, you have to jump through all kinds of hoops and spend a lot of money. Charter schools, with their tremendous turnover rate, having to compete with public schools salaries, are having problems meeting their needs. Charters have been able to hire 30% of their teachers as uncertified but they still have to pay competitive salaries, albeit while forcing teachers to work a lot of hours. As part of the machinations going on in Albany over mayoral control and other ed issues, charters authorized by SUNY may soon be allowed to pull people off the streets to teach., even if they have not taken any courses related to educating children. (I can see them gang pressing people walking out of their college graduation.) The NY Post cheered the decision to hire unqualified people for charters. Ironically, but not surprisingly, the Post also condemned the DOE plan to place ATRs, who the Post branded as unqualified, in classrooms. One blogger was left scratching his head: “How can you support the hiring of untrained and unqualified people to teach students on one hand and then be against the hiring of veteran teachers who are properly certified and experienced? “ Read his entire post at: http://chaz11.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-new-york-post-editoral-board-is.html.

It's the Attack on Unions Stupid: NY Times Doesn't Get Why Pay Lags Job Growth
“U.S. Job Growth Picks Up the Pace, but Wages Lag Behind” a recent front page of the NY Times declared. “This is not a market we have typically seen,” said Michael Stull, senior vice president at the staffing company Manpower North America. “We have not before seen unemployment drop, low participation rates and wages not move. That tells you something’s not right in the labor market.” Something's not right in the labor market? -- Duhhhh! I know I’m spitting in the wind when I say the reliance on free markets to balance workers and employers is faulty. Only organized workers in unions can redress the balance.

Eric Ulrich loves lunatic Bo Dietl for Mayor
Ulrich wrote on twitter after Republican Paul Massey pulled out: I will be encouraging the GOP to take a 2nd look at @BoDietl for Mayor. He has the fire in the belly…” Oy! I listened to Bo Dietl on Imus for years and while at times entertaining, suggesting he would make a good mayor is irresponsible, something I would not expect from Ulrich. Though he is a Republican, which automatically makes him irresponsible. But that’s a story for another day. A quick hit from Wikipedia tells us, “On May 4, 2017, the Wall Street Journal revealed Dietl claimed he was hired by Fox News network management to discredit the harassment claims by former anchor Gretchen Carlson and former producer Andrea Mackris against Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly.”

Eric is a smart politician, given he wants to run for mayor in 2021 but didn’t have the fire in his belly to take on a very flawed De Blasio ---- who even leftists like me despise. Actually there is a candidate running against de Blasio – Republican State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis from Staten Island, who apparently does have the fire in her belly. But if she does well against deB, even if she loses, she becomes a very creditable challenger to Ulrich in 2021. So why not promote a guy like Dietl who would send investigators to go after women who charge powerful men with sexual harassment, which given the firings at FOX, apparently were true?

Norm’s fire in the belly is due to acid reflux but he keeps blogging at ednotesonline.com.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

July 12: Can MORE Prove the UFT Contract Is Not Worthless?

I am opening up today's MORE Hard Core Contract event at The Dark Horse - 17 Murray St. and that has had me thinking -- a dangerous thing -- about things I haven't thought about in 15 years. I saw the contract being violated regularly in my school, often related to teacher assignments for the next school year. Most people wouldn't file grievances but as chapter leader I tried to use my weekly newsletter to put pressure on the administration.

Some people out there think the UFT contract is a worthless piece of junk. But don't give up on using the contract where possible but using the contract backed by some schoolwide political campaign enhances the chances of winning. One of my main gripes with the UFT over my decades of activity was their advice to keep grievances behind closed doors. I urged people to make their stories public to build support in the school. Why leave the narrative, which would be negative towards the teacher, to the principals and their minions?

Experienced contract guru James Eterno will be schlepping in from his Queens outpost to be a resident expert on the contract. (See his post yesterday on the ICE blog: TRS WORKSHOP; MORE CONTRACT TRAINING

In many schools, with knowledgeable union reps and an engaged staff, there is more enforcement of the contract than in other schools.

Experienced chapter leaders in MORE have supported people on the chapter leader listserve who have contractual questions.

Here is a recent one:
We had 13 staff up for tenure and all were denied, including guidance counselors, speech teachers, regular teachers and an AP. We have a particularly ruthless superintendent but curious if this is the case elsewhere. Some teachers had been extended in the past and as you can imagine, it's very demoralizing and disheartening.
Curious how it's going in other schools...
Is this situation an outlier or indicative of a chronic situation? Depending on how many people who come and the issues they bring, the MORE event today will attempt to gather information on this type of issue -- can we pin this on a particular supt?

We get lots of personal issues, like this one:
A teacher in my school teaches an extra period. We have a staggered schedule. Her normal day is period 1-8, but she teaches period 9 pro rata. During Regents, is she required to stay the extra time or is her day also 6:50?
One of the issues we want to touch on is to develop a guide on what to do when an incident is used to remove a colleague from the classroom, the school (rubber roomed) and how to know what is coming. Or how to prep people for a possible 3020a hearing. One thing I've noticed is that DOE legal will often contemplate adding a charge to people who contact parents for support. So we urge people to be careful and use stealth. I asked Peter Zucker to give us a summary of what he learned.

So many people are in the dark about the process. Catlin Preston of CPE1, who told me he spoke to Peter before his hearing and felt Peter was a great help, will be out of town but may call in. We discussed a follow-up with a working group coming out of this meeting where people with experience develop a guide with a roadmap of what a principal, OSI, etc are likely to do -- and how to interpret their actions.

If you have had issues in your school or want to share issues you have, or can offer some advice - or just to sit down and have a beer or two - or three - and some decent bar food, come on down.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The End of the Party: Clinton/Obama Democratic Center Counter Attack

The split between the Clinton/Obama centrist and the Bernie left Wings only grows more bitter. See the article I recently posted: The Democratic Party’s Deadly Dead-End.
 
And also this op ed by Bernie:
Will there be a split in the Democratic Party and the growth of a new party? I think the articles below indicate there may very well be, but it will take a few election cycles for the process to work itself out. Think of the Whigs from the mid-1830s to the mid 1850s and the emergence of the new Republican Party from the ashes.
"the Whigs are best understood as an American major party trying to be many things to many men, ready to abandon one deeply held ‘conviction’ for another in the drive for political power.".... history.com
The articles below are examples of the Clinton/Obama wings striking back. The first oped appeared in last Friday's NY Times and I read it with my mouth ajar -- and by the way, our own UFT/NYSUT/AFT pretty well lines up with the Clinton centrist wing, which used and abandoned labor unions, especially teachers, no matter our union leaders' rhetoric.

Remember that the "new" Republican Party captured the presidency in 1860 by taking a stronger stand on slavery -- a radical position at the time -- and basically kept power until FDR in 1932 other then the Wilson years (1912-20) and 2 terms by Grover Cleveland, who was a conservative Democrat -- or a quasi Republican.
An ass looks to chew its own ass

The center Dems turned away from the New Deal, as indicated by the NY Times opinion piece by Clinton apparatchik Mark Penn and, holy shit, a dug up Andrew Stein. I mean, how desperate are they getting? Below that read the NY Observer piece on how they are running a primary candidate against Bernie in Vermont. That should end up well for the Dems. Note that Jared Kushner owns the NY Observer so anything you read there should be taken as working in the Trump interests.

Let's parse the Penn/Stein piece. My comments in red.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/06/opinion/center-democrats-identity-politics.html?target=comments&_r=0

Back to the Center, Democrats


The path back to power for the Democratic Party today, as it was in the 1990s, is unquestionably to move to the center and reject the siren calls of the left, whose policies and ideas have weakened the party.
Really? How many state houses do the Dems have? How about the routes in Congress since the 90s when the Dems lost control of Congress in the majority of terms since then?
In the early 1990s, the Democrats relied on identity politics, promoted equality of outcomes instead of equality of opportunity and looked to find a government solution for every problem. After years of leftward drift by the Democrats culminated in Republican control of the House under Speaker Newt Gingrich, President Bill Clinton moved the party back to the center in 1995 by supporting a balanced budget, welfare reform, a crime bill that called for providing 100,000 new police officers and a step-by-step approach to broadening health care. Mr. Clinton won a resounding re-election victory in 1996 and Democrats were back.
Every issue cited was related to the Dems losing in 2016.
But the last few years of the Obama administration and the 2016 primary season once again created a rush to the left. Identity politics, class warfare and big government all made comebacks. Candidates inspired by Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and a host of well-funded groups have embraced sharply leftist ideas. But the results at the voting booth have been anything but positive: Democrats lost over 1,000 legislative seats across the country and control of both houses of Congress during the Obama years. And in special elections for Congress this year, they failed to take back any seats held by Republicans.
This is a remarkable 2-faced turn of what really happened -- the Clintons did all of the above they are claiming Bernie did. And they attack Bernie with their other face by saying he didn't pay enough attention to identity politics and thus lost the black vote.
Central to the Democrats’ diminishment has been their loss of support among working-class voters, who feel abandoned by the party’s shift away from moderate positions on trade and immigration, from backing police and tough anti-crime measures, from trying to restore manufacturing jobs. They saw the party being mired too often in political correctness, transgender bathroom issues and policies offering more help to undocumented immigrants than to the heartland.
Wait a minute. They are saying this happened without the Clintons? Are they blaming Obama too? The world is turning upside down.

In the next section, they go right at the New Deal and join the Republicans in the attack on government. Astounding.
Bigger government handouts won’t win working-class voters back. This is the fallacy of the left, believing that voters just need to be shown how much they are getting in government benefits. In reality, these voters see themselves as being penalized for maintaining the basic values of hard work, religion and family. It’s also not all about guns and abortion. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both won working-class voters despite relatively progressive views on those issues. Today, identity politics and disdain for religion are creating a new social divide that the Democrats need to bridge by embracing free speech on college campuses and respect for Catholics and people of other faiths who feel marginalized within the party.
There are plenty of good issues Democrats should be championing. They need to reject socialist ideas and adopt an agenda of renewed growth, greater protection for American workers and a return to fiscal responsibility. While the old brick-and-mortar economy is being regulated to death, the new tech-driven economy has been given a pass to flout labor laws with unregulated, low-paying gig jobs, to concentrate vast profits and to decimate retailing. Rural areas have been left without adequate broadband and with shrinking opportunities. The opioid crisis has spiraled out of control, killing tens of thousands, while pardons have been given to so-called nonviolent drug offenders. Repairing and expanding infrastructure, a classic Democratic issue, has been hijacked by President Trump — meaning Democrats have a chance to reach across the aisle to show they understand that voters like bipartisanship.
Immigration is also ripe for a solution from the center. Washington should restore the sanctity of America’s borders, create a path to work permits and possibly citizenship, and give up on both building walls and defending sanctuary cities. On trade, Democrats should recognize that they can no longer simultaneously try to be the free-trade party and speak for the working class. They need to support fair trade and oppose manufacturing plants’ moving jobs overseas, by imposing new taxes on such transfers while allowing repatriation of foreign profits. And the party seems to have forgotten that community policing combined with hiring more police officers worked in the ’90s — and it will work again today. It can’t be the party that failed to stop the rising murder rates in cities like Chicago.
Health care is the one area where the Democrats have gained the upper hand and have a coherent message about protecting the working poor from losing coverage. But the Affordable Care Act needs to be adjusted to control costs better, lest employer-sponsored health care become unaffordable. For now, the Democrats are right to hold the line in defending Obamacare in the face of Republican disunity.
No single payer for these guys -- let's continue the Clinton folly on health care. Do they forget that giving in to big Pharm and insurance companies is the main cause of costs spiraling out of control.
Easily lost in today’s divided politics is that only a little more than a quarter of Americans consider themselves liberals, while almost three in four are self-identified moderates or conservatives. Yet moderate viewpoints are being given short shrift in the presidential nominating process. So Democrats should change their rules to eliminate all caucuses in favor of primaries. Caucuses are largely undemocratic because they give disproportionate power to left-leaning activists, making thousands of Democrats in Kansas more influential than millions of people in Florida.
Twisting history --- hey, did Hilllary lose the Michigan PRIMARY to Bernie? No caucus there.
Mark Penn served as pollster and senior adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton from 1995 to 2008. Andrew Stein is a former Manhattan borough president and New York City Council president.
Both these guys are a joke.

Now on to the Observer --

ote the headline.
Bitter Clinton Supporters Try to Unseat Bernie Sanders in Senate Race

Opponents believe his ‘divisive politics’ have split the Democratic Party


Saturday, July 8, 2017

It's the Attack on Unions Stupid: NY Times Doesn't Get Why Pay Lags Job Growth

U.S. Job Growth Picks Up the Pace, but Wages Lag Behind today's front page of the NY Times declares.
“This is not a market we have typically seen,” said Michael Stull, senior vice president at the staffing company Manpower North America. “We have not before seen unemployment drop, low participation rates and wages not move. That tells you something’s not right in the labor market.” 
Something's not right in the labor market? -- duhhhh! The reliance on free markets to balance workers and employers is faulty. Only organized workers in unions can redress the balance.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

NYC PARENTS FILE COMPLAINT TO FORCE DOE TO REDUCE CLASS SIZE

Since our union leaders ignore the class size issue, parents do the heavy lifting.

This press release is also available here.

For Immediate Release:  July 6, 2017

Contact: Leonie Haimson, Class Size Matters, leoniehaimson@gmail.com
Wendy Lecker, Education Law Center, wlecker@edlawcenter.org

NYC PARENTS FILE COMPLAINT TO ENFORCE LAW TO REDUCE CLASS SIZE
Demand Department of Education Reduce Class Size as Mandated in State Law

Today, nine parents from every New York City borough filed a petition with State Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia, charging the City Department of Education (DOE) with failing to reduce class sizes as mandated by the Contract for Excellence Law (C4E). The City’s Public Advocate, Letitia James, and two advocacy groups, Class Size Matters and the Alliance for Quality Education, also joined the parents in the petition.
Education Law Center (ELC) is representing the Petitioners.
Please see Parent Petitioners’ quotes below.

In 2007, as required by the C4E law, the DOE developed a class size reduction plan for the City’s public schools, pledging to lower average class sizes in Kindergarten through third grade over five years to no more than 20 students; in fourth through eighth grade to no more than 23 students; and to no more than 25 students per class in high school core classes. The State Education Commissioner approved the plan.

The DOE never delivered on its plan. Instead, class sizes have increased sharply since 2007, particularly in the early grades, and are now substantially larger than when the C4E law was enacted. As of fall 2016, DOE data show classes in Kindergarten through third grade were more than 18 percent larger, classes in grades four through eight were six percent larger, and high school classes were 1.5 percent larger than in 2007.

“The growth in class size from 2007 to the present is breathtaking,” said David Sciarra, ELC Executive Director. “For example, in 2007, a little over 1,100 students in grades one through three were in classes of 30 students or more. As of November 2016, a staggering 43,219 first through third graders were in classes this large, an increase of almost 4000 percent.”

“New York City students have waited too long for a better opportunity to learn, and it is unacceptable that the City has reneged on its legal obligations,” said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters. “The research is crystal clear that smaller classes benefit all children, but especially those who predominate in our public schools: students who are low-income,  have special needs, or are English Language Learners.”

“A decade ago, the City committed to reducing class sizes to appropriate levels, a resource identified by New York’s highest court in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case as essential for a constitutional sound basic education,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director of the Alliance for Quality Education. “But now class sizes are even larger than when the court issued its decision. It is past time for the DOE to live up to this legal obligation.”

“The research is clear: smaller classes are better for our children. This indisputable fact can no longer be ignored. I am proud to stand with a diverse coalition of education advocates to demand the city provide our students with the smaller class sizes they are owed. There can be no equity or excellence when students in The Bronx and throughout New York City must sit in classes this large,”  said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

The Petitioners are requesting that Commissioner Elia order the DOE to immediately begin reducing class sizes to the averages set forth in the 2007 class-size reduction plan and to reach those averages in no more than five years. Petitioners are also asking the Commissioner to order the City to promptly align its capital plan for school construction to the class size averages in the 2007 Plan, another requirement of the C4E regulations.
_____________________
Parent Petitioners Speak:
“My daughter has been in extremely large classes since Kindergarten,” said Naila Rosario, a parent in District 15 in Brooklyn. “This year, in fourth grade, she is in a class of 32 students. She cannot possibly receive the kind of personal attention and feedback every child deserves and needs to be successful in school. In fact, often her teacher does not even have enough time to answer all the students’ questions. There is no way my daughter or any of her classmates can get a quality education in a class this large.”

Deborah Alexander has two children at P.S. 150 in Queens, one in 1st grade and the other in 4th grade. Both are in classes of 3O students: “My fourth grader told me he doesn’t bother to raise his hand anymore, because as he said to me, there are too many kids, so I’m never picked. My daughter’s class is full of restless children, waiting their turn to be able to speak. Some of the children have social-emotional issues and clearly feel deprived, no matter how hard their teacher tries. It is time to aggressively address class size reduction once and for all so that all children know they are seen and heard.”

“My son, who has an IEP, has been held back twice and is at risk of being held back again,” said Rubnelia Agostini, who has a second grade child at P.S. 277 in the Bronx. “His class size is now 25, and he was in a class of 27 in Kindergarten at P.S. 205. After two months in Kindergarten he was bused to another school to address class size violations, since Kindergarten classes are supposed to be capped at 25. Now his independent evaluation says he needs a small class, but his school doesn’t have any small classes, and some are as large as 27. Why can’t my son receive the quality education he needs to succeed?”

Litza Stark’s son is in an inclusion, or ICT, Kindergarten class with 28 students at P.S. 85 in Queens. The ICT class contains 10-12 students with special needs: “Especially since this is an ICT class where students present an array of extra challenges, his class size causes excessive stress on the teachers and the students alike. PreK is important, but so is the quality of education for children in Kindergarten and up.”

“My son’s class has 24 children, many of them requiring close support, and his teacher is not able to individualize instruction as she could in a smaller class,” said Reeshemah Brightley, the mother of a Kindergarten child at P.S./I.S. 76 in Manhattan. “Classroom management is difficult, and students are more disruptive in a large class than they otherwise would be, making it hard for the rest of the class to focus.”

JoAnn Schneider’s son is a fourth grader in an ICT class of 31 students at P.S./I.S. 113 in Queens: “My son receives special education services and has been in an inclusion class since Kindergarten. He’s making only minimal progress because he needs a more focused environment that only a small class can provide. It is not right that my child should be denied the kind of education given to children elsewhere in the state where classes average only 20-22 students per class – especially when the law requires it.”

Johanna Garcia, a mother of two children at P.S./I.S. 187 in Manhattan, explained: “My son is in third grade in a class of 28. He receives special services, but his class is far too big and he has trouble keeping up. When he was in Kindergarten, his class size exceeded the cap, and that’s when it became clear to me that it was impossible for him to receive the attention he needed with so many other children in the class. My daughter is in a class of 29 students in fifth grade, and many in her class have been unable to stay engaged and afloat. The city owes it to my children and all other students in the public school system to remedy this egregious violation of their rights.”
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To read the petition, click here ; a timeline documenting the DOE’s failure to reduce class sizes since the CFE lawsuit is available here; and data showing class size trends is available here.



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Who Ya Gonna Call? MORE - July 12, 3-6 PM - Can Teachers Fight Back Against Principals, DOE Legal and OSI?

Every day we hear more stories about the situation faced by school workers and how the UFT leadership has let them down while principals have full power to use DOE legal and OSI against them. We have seen so many similar stories, we can see how the wheels operate in the minds of so many principals, who have DOE Legal, OSI and an enormous range of weapons.

What do school workers have? A UFT that says you are lucky to have a job or a paycheck no matter how humiliated you are -- until you find you don't have a job. No matter how much we bring it up, the union leadership refuses to consider the attacks on so many schools staffs as part of a plan and treat each situation individually, thus leaving people isolated -- unless they come to a group like MORE which at the very least can offer some sense of collective action. Which is exactly what we intend to do a week from 3-6PM today at the Dark Horse - 17 Murray St. just a few blocks from the Tweedle dees.

To illustrate the point here are a few powerful recent articles by Arthur at NYC Educator,
and James Eterno at ICE
Even if not under investigation or even if your principal loves you, things can change on a dime, as our friends at CPE1 found out when they were hit between the eyes by an evil principal.

Mayoral control has not worked out for anyone, yet the entire world seems to think not having a democratic measures of control over the schools by people with the biggest stake is a good thing. And that includes our own union which has supported variations of mayoral control forever.

Collectively we have learned many lessons over the years. And I use "we" in the broadest terms to include many of you out there who blog and read the blogs.

Next Weds - July 12 -- MORE is doing its annual summer series event to try to bring some order and sharing to this collective knowledge base. Do we have easy answers? No. First we have to ask the questions - at the very least to prep people for what they may face. Like I hear even experienced people wonder why for a fairly minor issue they are removed from the school while others with more serious issues stay in school and even in the classroom but don't realize how much say the principal has in that decision.

What can you do when the new principal - depending on how competent - engages in actions clearly designed to wipe out the experienced staff? They have so many weapons and you have pea shooters and the UFT so often absent -- ie, see cozy relationship between your district rep and the district supe?

If you have something to offer, or want to hear the stories of others, come on down.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Democratic Party’s Deadly Dead-End – Consortiumnews

Nicholas J S Davies: In 2002, when Margaret Thatcher was asked to name her “greatest political achievement,” she smiled her best cat-that-swallowed-the-canary smile and purred, “Tony Blair and New Labour.” The true measure of the Reagan-Thatcher counterrevolution was not how Reagan and Thatcher changed their own parties’ policies but that they remade their opposition in their own image and thus marginalized progressive politics for a generation in both their countries, clearing the way for the neoliberal transformation of society....

The real danger of the Ossoff fiasco is the same one the corporate Democrats keep creating and recreating for their party, that their slick, deceptive brand of politics is so tainting their identity that it will undermine real progressive Democratic candidates in 2018 and beyond. After a generation of corporate politics, it is vital that both journalists and the public learn to tell the difference between corrupt corporate Republicans and Democrats on the one hand and genuine, well-motivated grassroots candidates on the other.
Thanks to Michael Fiorillo for the torrent of articles on the Democratic Party. This one is a doozy. Long but worth reading in depth.

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/07/03/the-democratic-partys-deadly-dead-end/  or below the break.