Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Success Academy's Loeb latest Insults - How About Them Schwarzes?

To be clear: racism is not just carrying a torch in Charlottesville, or writing a bigoted comment on Facebook. Racism is also the failure of those in power to hold white supremacists accountable for actions and words that harm and demean people of color.
Cuomo, Klein and Flanagan may not be carrying tiki torches, but they are implicitly endorsing racism from certain donors like Loeb who send the biggest checks.
...Loeb has previously compared teachers’ unions to the KKK, and he referred to a Prem Watsa, an insurance company CEO of Indian ancestry as a “schwarze” – a derogatory Yiddish phrase for blacks. Yet he continues to sit on the board of the Success Academy charter school network, and he is among the top political contributors to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other prominent elected officials in New York. 

..... Zakiyah Ansari,
It keeps getting worse.  Loeb called someone a "schwarze" in email.  Message to Eva and Success: Not who you want heading
Daniel Loeb Vision of UFT Meetings
your school board where 93% of the kids are kids of color. Or any school board for that matter. Word is that with the resignation of DFER head Shavar Jeffries (still a scuzball in my book) there is not one person of color on the Success main board.

More News:  

Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War? --- The New Yorkker

in April, Amazon selected the dystopian novel “American War”—which centers on a second U.S. civil war—as one of its best books of the month. In a review in the Washington Post, Ron Charles wrote, “Across these scarred pages rages the clash that many of us are anxiously speculating about in the Trump era: a nation riven by irreconcilable ideologies, alienated by entrenched suspicions . . . both poignant and horrifying.” The Times book reviewer noted, “It’s a work of fiction. For the time being, anyway.”
... Robin Wright, Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?, The New Yorker
I've been waiting to read American War for months and have it on order from the library. Sometimes I think that maybe Lincoln should have let the south secede -
I have been seeing parallels between now and the 1850s --- those times are really worth studying. So I was interested to read this section:
Before Charlottesville, David Blight, a Yale historian, was already planning a conference in November on “American Disunion, Then and Now.” “Parallels and analogies are always risky, but we do have weakened institutions and not just polarized parties but parties that are risking disintegration, which is what happened in the eighteen-fifties,” he told me. “Slavery tore apart, over fifteen years, both major political parties. It destroyed the Whig Party, which was replaced by the Republican Party, and divided the Democratic Party into northern and southern parts.”
“So,” he said, “watch the parties” as an indicator of America’s health.
This is one reason I have been posting so many articles on the divisions in the Democratic Party. Some people think the left is winning (not the far left which eschews parties other than their own). Others think the center is winning -- I believe the latter -- that the left is incapable of organizing itself to take over the party. Thus I lean toward the idea that the Dems will split.  But yes, watch the parties as an indicator.

I found this point interesting:
Gregory Downs, a historian at the University of California at Davis, told me. During the Civil War, even Southern politicians who denounced or were wary of secession for years—including Jefferson Davis—ended up as leaders of the Confederacy. “If the source of conflict is deeply embedded in cultural or social forces, then politicians are not inherently able to restrain them with calls for reason,” Downs said. He called the noxious white supremacists and neo-Nazis the “messengers,” rather than the “architects,” of the Republic’s potential collapse. But, he warned, “We take our stability for granted.”
Read my last post on the Jews who will support Trump no matter how many Nazis are marching. By the way -- I have been watching The Roosevelts on PBS - must see for so much to connect to what is going on today -- from both Teddy's (1898-1918) and Franklin's key years (1910-1940's). One fact was how in 1939 - polls showed that over 90% of Protestants and over 80% of Catholics opposed taking in refugees (many Jewish) -- here's a factoid -- 25% of Jews also were opposed -- in my last post we used figures of around 30% of Jews support Trump NMW - No Matter What.

Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?


Why Trump’s Jewish Backers Love the Alt-Right -- Daily Beast

Everything about this loathsome affair should have crossed a line for American Jews: the messaging, the violence, the size, and most of all the two days it took Trump to condemn “racism” specifically—although still not the alt-right itself. As one rabbinic friend of mine put it on Facebook, “Egyptians throw Jewish babies in the Nile; Pharaoh condemns violence on many sides.” As a rabbi myself, I have never felt so alienated from my own country as I did on Sunday and Monday....
And yet, none of it did cross a line. There was not a peep of remorse from Trump’s prominent Jewish supporters.
Because, in fact, there is no line. Like a proverbial frog in boiling water, it should be clear by now that almost no increase in anti-Semitsm or racism will separate these Jews from the man who encourages their most bitter enemies.
------ ,

30% of Jews are now supporting right wing views -- and they are growing as the orthodox have many more kids than secular Jews.
This article says that nothing will make these Jews waver from Trump support -- I imagine even if he walked around with a Nazi arm band.
We know family who line up this way.
This is a must read, especially for complacent Jews.

Why Trump’s Jewish Backers Love the Alt-Right

08.15.17 1:00 AM ET

The shocking mainstreaming of anti-Semitism reinforces the Jewish right’s worldview and its support of Israel’s hard-right fringe.

 Will Donald Trump’s belated condemnation of racism be enough to assuage his Jewish backers—at last count, roughly 30 percent of the American Jewish community—even though it took him two days to make it, and even though the Charlottesville march was advertised with violently anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery?Of course it will.

No amount of cognitive dissonance is too great for Trump’s Jewish backers, from high-profile ones like embattled lawyer Michael “Says Who?” Cohen to everyday Jews in the pews. Why? It’s not just Israel, although that’s a big part of it. Nor is it just about Jared and Ivanka. Nor is it blindness to the anti-Semitism and racism rampant among Trump’s hard core base.

Quite the contrary. Trump’s Jewish supporters are well aware of the alt-right, and in a perverse way, they thrive on it. The shocking mainstreaming of anti-Semitism reinforces their worldview, their political ideology, and their support of Israel’s hard-right fringe.
First, to be clear, the “Unite the Right” rally and Trump’s typical and tepid first response to it, was a watershed moment in American anti-Semitism. While the racism of KKK-supporting, Confederate flag-waving white supremacists was justifiably at the forefront of media coverage, the branding and execution of the event was explicitly anti-Semitic.

“Join Azzmador and The Daily Stormer to end Jewish influence in America,” proclaimed the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer’s advertisement of the event, accompanied by a Nazi-like figure wielding a hammer, ready to smash a Jewish star. 

At the Saturday evening march on the University of Virginia campus, tiki-torch-bearing white nationalists chanted “Jew will not replace us” interchangeably with “You will not replace us”—both familiar white nationalist slogans.

And, of course, Trump’s initial statement, condemning violence on “many sides” and refusing to call out his white nationalist supporters, was the most astonishing presidential accommodation of racism and anti-Semitism since the Wilson administration.
Everything about this loathsome affair should have crossed a line for American Jews: the messaging, the violence, the size, and most of all the two days it took Trump to condemn “racism” specifically—although still not the alt-right itself. As one rabbinic friend of mine put it on Facebook, “Egyptians throw Jewish babies in the Nile; Pharaoh condemns violence on many sides.” As a rabbi myself, I have never felt so alienated from my own country as I did on Sunday and Monday.

And yet, none of it did cross a line. There was not a peep of remorse from Trump’s prominent Jewish supporters.
Because, in fact, there is no line. Like a proverbial frog in boiling water, it should be clear by now that almost no increase in anti-Semitsm or racism will separate these Jews from the man who encourages their most bitter enemies.

To be sure, the most obvious reasons for their resilient support—Israel, Israel, and Israel—are quite salient. Some, though by no means most, Jews are indeed “Israel First” voters, and all of them are hard-right-wing. To them, supporting Israel means not coaxing Israel to the negotiating table so that it can reach a sustainable two-state solution with Palestine, but subsidizing settlements, right-wing yellow journalism, and right-wing political campaigns, all the while chanting that Americans should not tell Israel what to do.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

If you believe Trump about those beseiged Nazis and KKK by the Alt-Left -- Read this from Greg Pallast

Show this to any of your friends and family who think the alt-right were just peaceful protestors attacked by the alt-left.
A gun in his face, but he got the photo

By Greg Palast

(Charlottesville) Four neo-Nazis beat black school teacher Deandre Harris with iron bars and lumber. ©Zach D Roberts 2017

Don’t look away.  Four white neo-Nazis are beating a Black man, crawling on the ground, with their metal poles and a yellow hunk of lumber. The beating continues – there’s blood on the pavement.

Our photographer, Zach D. Roberts, continues to shoot – even as a white militant raises a 9mm pistol to his face.

Taibbi: Dan Loeb Simultaneously Solicits, Betrays Pension Funds

There's confidence. There's chutzpah. And then there's Dan Loeb, hedge fund king extraordinaire and head of Third Point Capital, who's getting set to claim the World Heavyweight Championship of Balls... Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
Matt Taibbi's take down of Loeb seems to be inspired by Loeb's comments on Andrea Cousins and his links to Eva and Success Academy - he is on their board. Taibbi cuts him up:
Dan Loeb, who isn't known as the biggest hedge-fund asshole still working on Wall Street (only because Stevie Cohen hasn't been arrested yet), is on the board and co-founder of a group called Students First New York. And the national Students First organization has been one of the leading advocates pushing for states to abandon defined benefit plans – packages which guarantee certain retirement benefits for public workers like teachers – in favor of defined contribution plans, where the benefits are not guaranteed.In other words, Loeb has been soliciting the retirement money of public workers, then turning right around and lobbying for those same workers to lose their benefits.
The NYT had an interesting piece on Saturday:
Comment on Race Reopens New York Democrats’ Split Over Schools -- 
Politicians who have long benefited from Mr. Loeb’s generosity scurried for cover and distance. And his enemies pounced.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, called on Friday for Mr. Loeb to step down from his post as chairman of Success Academy, a major charter schools network. Democratic groups in New York and beyond pushed Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to return the $170,000 he had raised from Mr. Loeb and his wife over the years, including at a fund-raiser two years ago at Mr. Loeb’s Hamptons home.

The day’s events captured years of interwoven and lingering grievances that have defined Democratic politics in New York. On one side are left-leaning Democrats like Mr. de Blasio and the Assembly speaker, Carl M. Heastie, who have traditional ties to the powerful teachers union. On the other are those backed by donors who support charter schools, politicians like Mr. Cuomo and Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, the leader of the renegade Independent Democratic Conference.
Chalkbeat had links to all the articles on Loeb:
POOR POST In remarks made well before this weekend's events, Daniel Loeb, chairman of Success Academy's board, sparked outrage after writing that an African-American New York state senator had done “more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood." Chalkbeat, Wall Street Journal, Politico New York, New York Times, New York Daily News, Business Insider, Newsweek
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Al Sharpton both called for Loeb's resignation. New York Daily News
The New York Post's editorial board defended Loeb, arguing that his broader critique is correct, while the Daily News said he should "slink away."  New York Post, New York Daily News
Loeb gave the the maximum allowable donation to presumptive Republican mayoral nominee Nicole Malliotakis. Gotham Gazette
SPLITTING UP Democrats for Education Reform President Shavar Jeffries is no longer on the board of Success Academy, Politico reported on Monday. His departure highlights a growing divide among charter supporters about how to deal with the Trump administration. Chalkbeat, Politico
SPEAKING UP At a political rally on Monday, New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins weighed-in on racial comments by Success Academy chair Daniel Loeb. She stopped short of calling for his removal after Loeb wrote on Facebook that the senator has done “more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood.” ChalkbeatNew York Times
At the rally, pols called for Democrats to take control of the state Senate, and Comptroller Scott Stringer said he will use a $4,500 donation from Loeb in 2011 to help make that happen. New York Daily News, Observer
The entire Taibbi article below the break:

Dan Loeb Simultaneously Solicits, Betrays Pension Funds

Union leaders – don't fund your demise by investing with this hedge fund king

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Liberal Crackup - WSJ

Mark Lilla is controversial and I have some essential disagreements with the way this WSJ article is framed -- including the definition of liberalism -- political liberalism --  not the same view of economic liberalism - morphed into neo-liberalism --  freedom from govt and and open markets being the rule - capitalism run amuck. But then again they might be the same ultimately -- though classic American liberals do seem to believe in strong govt regs -- ie FDR -- but them again they might be better termed as social-democrats -- ie- Bernie -- who I believe would reject the classification as a liberal - but I will try to get into that another time. What interests me about this is that this is taking place all over the place, including behind the scenes in our own caucus, MORE.

What interests me is how he addresses "the left", the concept of liberals, and identity politics which he views as divisive. I have seen over my almost 5 decades of work in UFT caucuses just how divisive these issues can be -- in the groups in the 70s, ICE and MORE. I hope to delve into some of these local divisions in future posts --- I'm posting this and some other articles as they come up as a reference point to these future writings.

The Saturday Essay
The Liberal Crackup
By Mark Lilla
Aug. 12, 2017

Liberals should reject the divisive, zero-sum politics of identity and find their way back to a unifying vision of the common good
Donald Trump’s surprise victory in last year’s presidential election has finally energized my fellow liberals, who are networking, marching and showing up at town-hall meetings across the country. There is excited talk about winning back the White House in 2020 and maybe even the House of Representatives in the interim.
But we are way ahead of ourselves—dangerously so. For a start, the presidency just isn’t what it used to be, certainly not for Democrats. In the last generation, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama won the office with comfortable margins, but they were repeatedly stymied by assertive Republicans in Congress, a right-leaning Supreme Court and—what should be the most worrisome development for Democrats—a steadily growing majority of state governments in Republican hands.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Memo From the RTC: “The Producers” - Leftovers

Published Aug. 11, 2017 in The Wave,

Memo From the RTC: “The Producers”  - Leftovers
By Norm Scott

Well, it’s over. Ten sold out performances with many standing ovations and accolades ringing throughout the peninsula calling the Rockaway Theatre Company production of The Producers the “best show ever” and “better than the Nathan Lane/Mathew Broderick Broadway production.”

Being in a position to see the show so many times gave me an appreciation of the beautiful structure of the script as one scene flows into another to build a farcical story line. Ultimately, this is not just a play mocking Hitler and the Nazi Party, but also a buddy story about two guys (a Jewish Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?) who are as different as you can imagine who ultimately come to love each other – and Ulla too, even though the unlikely Bloom is the one who ends up with her. (I can’t tell you how many people made the point that Catherine Leib should be on Broadway.)

The timing and interplay between actors Jeremy Plyburn and Craig Evans, who were new to each other and the RTC, was remarkable. There is also the love story between Roger De Bris, the always amazing Erech Holder-Hetmeyer, and Carmen Ghia, as  Brian Sadwoski who goes over the top as an actor. As cast member and teacher Janet Miserandino (nun and old lady) says of Brian who is her boss, “We don’t see this Brian at our school.” And then of course the love affair between the pigeons and Franz Liebkind where John Panepinto brings down the house with every appearance. When Adolph the pigeon raises one wing (with a Nazi armband) in a salute, rolls of laughter. Even if you went in squeamish about all that Nazi stuff I didn’t see any signs of over sensitivity – though I did read that two tourists were arrested in Germany for doing the Nazi salute, which is illegal there (for somewhat obvious reasons). Almost the entire cast would be in jail there. I wonder if The Producers itself is a play that cannot be performed in Germany. We did have a German dancer and singer in the show from Stuttgart  (Veronica Bochynek – and I imagine some of the Mel Brooks over the top satire might have caused some discomfort. 

Many people in Rockaway don’t believe that it is possible to have Broadway quality performance in our community or are just not  interested in the theater. On my own block I know only two households that come to RTC productions. Well, given the scarcity of seats the past three weeks, we couldn’t fit them in anyway – as for extending performances – the burden asked of the entire crew, performers and production team – working without pay after months of rehearsal—is just too much.

Sunday’s final performance was a bittersweet event. People who have worked so hard for months have seen the fruition of their efforts – in this case bringing joy and laughter to the thousands of attendees. Catherine Leib (Ulla) in thanking the backstage production team (which also includes some of the actors) said in Sunday’s final pre-performance meeting that they made it possible for the performers to bring this joy to people and to fulfill their own dreams of being on stage.

Sunday’s show ended around 5PM. Everyone was told they had to clean up the dressing room, store all costumes, clean out their cubbies, etc. to make room for the next show coming in before they would be allowed to eat at the cast party (catered by Thai Rock). When I left around 8:45, the stage still had about 30 cast and behind the scenes members dancing and carrying on. They didn’t want it to end. After all, the cast and crew become like a family over so many months and breaking up is hard to do.

We were treated to delicious desserts from our own local
Jannicke's Amazing cake
Cakeline, Inc. which donates delicious cookies and cakes to every performance. And also from one of our performers, Trinidad-Tobago native Jannicke Steadman-Charles whose mom
Denise and Jannicke
Denise Eversley (my dance partner in La Cage) was also in the show and had her first speaking part. (Her other daughter Renee Steadman-Titus who has graced so many of our shows had other commitments.) About half way through the party, Jannicke unveiled her fabulous creation, cake looking so good honoring The Producers (see photo), we almost didn’t want to ruin it but eat it we did and it was beyond delicious. Jannicke is a professional baker who works at the Institute of Culinary Education and if you are looking for unique desserts you can contact her at:

The breakdown and construction team under the leadership of Tony Homsey is its own little family –  involved in every single show and gets to work with all the directors. Besides myself, Cliff Hesse (master of all trades who acts and paints and designs sets), Frank Verderame (when he is not playing with his dogs or writing novels and plays), Roger Sarmuksnis and recently, Scholars Academy 15 year old junior Steven Wagner, who is eager to learn all aspects of theater from acting to set construction.

Elephant Man set going up
This past week we (sadly) took down the set and put up the basic set for Elephant Man, opening Sept. 15 and running for only two weekends – get your reservations in - you know that the increasing popularity of the RTC will fill seats. Hotline: 718-374-6400.

Let me end this series of columns with my personal thanks to Director John Gilleece and Producer Susan Jasper for thinking of me for the part of the judge, a small 9-line role – yes, I kept my script in front of me just in case. I get to send the boys up the river, though I will admit that before passing judgment, having the beautiful Ulla making eyes at me as an attempted
Here comes the judge
bribe to let her hubby and his partner off, I was pretty tempted at the final performance to say “You are free to go.” (John and Susan would have loved that.) In my version of alt-history, Ulla runs off with the judge.

Norm sends the NYC Department of Education up the river daily on his blog,

Saturday, August 12, 2017

A first-person account of an ATR teacher in New York City Public Schools - Seeing The Positives

I've told my story (Attacks on ATRs is Spear at All Teachers Plus Why Not Have a Permanent Corps of ATR) of being an ATR in my first year and a half as a teacher from Sept. 1967-Feb. 1969 -- an experience that I believe turned me from a no-nothing 6-week summer trainee -- ala TFA -- into a confident teacher. So I found this email from Ed Notes reader Nick Weber confirms my thesis that using a permanent ATR corp for beginning teachers as a sort of apprenticeship would make sense --  also cost so much less because it would consist of beginning teachers -- we need subs anyway so why not make use of them but add the mission that schools they are attached to would also function like teaching hospitals? Re-branding the ATR program in this way would lead to buy in -- having extra hands on deck in schools can never hurt.

Here is Nick's intro:
As one of the youngest ATR's in the city (30) I have been an ATR for the past three years, and have been reading the accounts from "journalists" that fail to even ask an ATR their take on the process. While I note the difficulties inherent with not being given a restroom key, unfair evaluation, and being treated by some as a second class citizen; this is not the totality of my experience.

As the old adage goes, when life throws us lemons...  In light of this sentiment, below you will find my positive take on the experience, and the positive experiences I have been able to collect from it.  It has provided me one of the most unexpected life experiences, and one that has enriched me as a professional and person.   I humbly offer the following account below, in the hopes that you may publish it with my name, so that we may turn the tide on the representation of what is a cadre of highly trained and brilliant professionals, enriching schools across our City in wonderful ways.

----ATR Nick Weber
I can imagine the storm this posting will incur from a certain segment of the besieged ATR community. Nick is 30 years old and has a long way to go in the system so he has a perspective that may differ from long-time teachers. I do want to echo some of the points he makes about being able to visit many other classrooms as opposed to the isolating experience when you are a "normal" teacher. We know from some prominent ATRS - Eterno, Portelos, Zucker that they have managed to handle things pretty well -- James is the only one who has had a stable situation - relatively.

The press doing reporting on ATRs might want to chat with Nick and get his perspective. 
A first-person account of an ATR teacher in New York City Public Schools 

The Traveling Teacher

It is a rare and select opportunity for an educator to receive an invitation to visit another classroom within their own school site, let alone a chance to visit over three dozen school sites as a faculty member of each community.  In spite of the rarity, my assignment for the past three years within the Department of Education has been to do just this:  teach students in classrooms across schools, grade levels, and content areas.  It has been an unexpected blessing that provided me an opportunity to grow in unique ways I never imagined possible. To help populations of students I never imagined that I would work with, and learn from dozens of professionals who, in total, have several millennia of classroom years of experience. This account of my experience has to be abridged in order to present some of the insights of my time as an ATR.  It is an account that reveals, a side of being an ATR which has been beneficial to increasing my teaching ability and practice. 

The assignment of schools for ATR teachers remains a veiled calculus that is beyond analysis.  For our purposes, ATR teachers are sent into literally any DOE institution and regardless of their licensure and work to “cover” any topic or grade level.  My personal experience teaching as an ATR ranges from Pre-K all the way through senior year. A non-exhaustive list of content domains I have taught are as follows; Algebra, Geometry, Calculus, Chemistry, American History, Global History, Art, Design, Physics, Spanish, Latin, American-American Literature, American Literature, Theater, Music, Economics, Physical Education, Business Marketing, Coding, and library sciences.  This constant rotation has afforded me insight into how students learn, across content areas, and among the most diverse student population in the world. It has granted me the opportunity to peer into diverse school communities and learn how they function from my interactions with principals, assistant principals, teacher leaders, teachers, students, food service workers, School Safety Agents, and custodial staffs.  With reflection, these experiences have enabled me to understand public education in New York City as an ingrained member of a school community, with teaching obligations parallel to fellow educators, yet under a rotating set of conditions.  

Switching both the school and classroom setting permits an amazing level of professional growth, should one engage in the teaching process with fidelity.  My experience being an ATR was to treat every classroom, as my classroom.  Every lesson, as if I had weeks to craft it, not merely hours.  Every student, as my student.  

Working with over seven thousand students and hundreds of colleagues, it is a rare day that goes by when I don’t run into someone who I taught or worked with over the past few years. Sharing a smile and pleasant conversation to catch up with them, has been a true blessing of this constant rotation.  Updates abound with their college success, career growth, entrepreneurial endeavors, volunteering, military service, and persistent growth and learning, among a cadre of students who face no shortage of adversity against them.  The more students I teach and professionals I work with -- the more I discover that the human condition is categorically similar.  When we invest with kindness, support, and care for a generation; the result is a success all around. 
ATR teachers are often considered merely substitutes. This is an unfortunate understanding,  and should the ATR view themselves as such, would result in a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The facts are less glamorous than sensationalist accounts.  In contrast to the experience of being a substitute, the average ATR teacher has years, even decades of experience.  Hence, divergent from a substitute walking into a classroom, ATR educators are full-fledged teachers, who understand classroom dynamics, pedagogy, learning theory, and evaluation. 
That is to say, ATR teachers who constantly strive to perfect their teaching methods and reflect on every lesson, are able to experience an enormous amount of growth within a framework where change is the rule, rather than the exception.  With every class and student I teach, I reflect on what aspects of the lesson were successful, and what aspects of the lesson should be altered next time for improvement?  Research and our own personal experiences reveal that when teachers remain static, their lessons slowly ossify, and student interest decreases. Any pedagogue will acknowledge, that decreased student engagement results in lower student learning.  Teachers who remain, avid learners, are the ones who meet the greatest success. 

Within the United States, the current method of teacher preparation frequently compartmentalizes teacher training into both grade and subject-level specializations.  Frequently, this specialization comes at a cost of understanding the continuity of learning from pre-K to grade 12. While it is imperative to prepare teachers to understand the content and pedagogy with respect to subject domain (i.e. Middle School math, high school Chemistry; grade level 12 Economics), the process of teacher preparation may serve to isolate the teacher beyond what is needed or beneficial.  Teachers must be able to understand how learning occurs, and see the connections across grade level, student populations and understand barriers to learning. 

Evidence of hyper-specialization within education abounds. Teachers often identify strongly as history teachers, math teachers, and science teachers.  Yet, does not every subject impact another?  Should teachers (and administrators) not understand how students learn across content areas? Are not the most brilliant discoveries often found by researchers working outside their field of direct experience?  If so, we must expressly ensure teachers see connections, strategies, and methods across content areas. 

The world of today places great emphasis and opportunity on students who can see connections across domains and specializations. Our economy values individuals who have diverse skill-sets, and are able to reach across specializations. Innovation demands that we prepare students to create, rather than solely to perform within a limited task range. Thus, our teacher preparation must reflect this. 

Preparing an English teacher to teach High School, results in teachers who encounter challenges with supporting who enter high school reading at the 6th-grade level.  Alternatively, middle school math teachers, may not understand the rigors of Algebra on the 9th-grade level and thus fail to prepare a continuity of instruction for their pupils to engage with instruction on the high school level.  This is not a fault of the teacher, but rather a system of teacher preparation that focuses on a single subject and grade level.  I title hyper-focused content area specialization,  ‘silos of instruction’. These silos, unfortunately, carry all the way through teacher preparation and are maintained within many schools.  My integration into around three dozen school communities, permit me to see the inefficiency many schools experience with single subject content area teams.  An example of this is when high school math departments, fail to realize many of their English language students perform poorly on state math exams as a product of language deficits, rather than mathematic difficulties.  A partnership between these departments could address such concerns.  

Teaching across student populations and content domains,  aided my ability to view how student psychological, social, and academic development occurs.  In contrast to remaining with solely one student population, being an ATR grants insight into how students acquire knowledge at all grade levels of the public school. The ATR teacher, given their expansive placement with regard to grade and content domain; has the opportunity to see not only grade level benchmarks but additionally content area connections.  They have the chance to see the connections between literature on the elementary level, and mathematics benchmarks on the tenth grade.  No other teaching opportunity within our City or nation provides this diversity of applied growth and learning for teachers.  For rather than being an observer there to 'evaluate' learning, ATR teachers are in the classroom as a co-constructor of knowledge.  For example, I have witnessed how deficiencies regarding reading, translate as barriers to understanding math concepts when instructed and evaluated with a high degree of written instructions.  Using the tools  I have gained while teaching both concurrently,  has helped me to facilitate student learning to address these challenges. 

Teaching methods are critical to engaging students in the learning process.  One of the benefits of ATR rotation is the chance to acquire new "tools" or teaching methods.  Working with around 70 co-teachers (classrooms with both a special education and general education teacher in the room) I have had the chance to acquire a host of teaching strategies. One of my favorite teaching growth activities is to adapt and implement strategies in unconventional manners to increase student learning.  Take for example my use of "foldables" (a  project most often associated with English Language Arts methods) to increase Algebra passing rates.  Along with a co-teacher, we planned lessons using these manipulatives and found that students increased their pass rate of the state Regents Exams to one of the highest in the school.  The process of working with so many different and amazingly talented educators in the City, has been one of true joy and a professional honor.  Viewing how teachers adapt to students, integrate their interests and needs into the lessons they teach, and passionately support students far beyond the scope of their duties, reveals the level of professional dedication of so many teachers.  While the role of ATR is particularly suited to working with diverse professionals across content areas, I encourage regularly assigned teachers to simply ask around their school to find amazing educators, and engage in peer observation with fellow teachers. 

ATR assignments to school communities for myself have ranged from a single week to around eight months in duration.  Within so many school communities, I have discovered that the school climate and culture may be radically divergent. The diversity of school environment is something to be encouraged.  For example, students at Art and Design High School in Manhattan often express their creativity via sketches and artwork they draw in their portfolio notebooks, purchased in the school store which sells them to students at cost.  In contrast, schools such as Grammercy Arts, focus their artistic expression most profoundly through theater arts such as drama and dance.  To comparatively evaluate the “quality” of such radically different environments, using the same basis, is a fool’s errand.  Success in the classroom is similar to success in real life, it simply looks different for everyone.  Different populations of students with unique needs and teachers with unique skill-sets are invariably different. Society must come to embrace the diversity of excellence, and how it manifests across schools. 

Successful schools tailor their course and extracurricular offerings to match the student and staff interests and abilities.  Student interest is a critical ingredient for school success.  Being an ATR has allowed me to witness how the same student, engages in learning across different content areas and classes. That is to say, a student who thrives in group work in a History class, may be reserved and quiet in a science class.  Discovering indeed that a particular student learns best through group activities, may be a critical piece of information that educators fail to notice with some students. Why would they not? Indeed the single content area focus, as well as departments based on subject area, often place barriers in terms of teacher's  knowledge of students. Exploring how an individual student learns, is a critical feature of student success, and one that must be understood by members across of a school community. In an ATR role, it becomes apparent that every student has learning preferences, and these must be understood to best support student learning on a student-by-student level. 

Overall, rather than viewing the ATR experience as one of diminished responsibly and growth, I have engaged these past years in this role in a manner which illuminated me to the experience of learning within the public schools of New York City.  Teaching in a plethora of schools, across grade levels, across content domains, and with some of the finest educators to wonderful students who strive forward each day in spite of the many obstacles, has been one of the most enriching teaching experiences I could have ever imagined. 

- Nick Weber, ATR

Friday, August 11, 2017

Eva/Success Academy mum on Chairman Loeb racial barb

Sen. Cousins is one of the most impressive and classiest people in Albany- while Loeb is a thug who will try to bulldoze anyone in his way -- including in this case, those he can't buy off to support his school privatization agenda. ... Leonie Haimson
hedge fund manager Daniel S. Loeb, a prominent supporter of charter schools and a major financial backer of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and congressional Republicans,accused the African-American woman who leads the Democrats in the New York State Senate of having done “more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood.” .... NYT - Daniel Loeb, a Cuomo Donor, Makes Racial Remark About Black Leader
These hedgehog charter backers are such a joy to report on.
Mr. Loeb made the reference, apparently to the Ku Klux Klan, in a posting on Facebook in response to an article in The New York Times this week in which the Democratic leader, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, confronted Mr. Cuomo about prejudging her based upon race and gender.
Loeb is chairman of Success Academy charter.
Mr. Loeb has been a prominent player in New York politics, as the chairman of the Success Academy charter school network and as a major political donor. In 2015, protesters objecting to Mr. Cuomo’s ties to wealthy donors marched outside a fund-raiser that Mr. Loeb hosted for Mr. Cuomo at his home in the Hamptons
 Eliza Shapiro, ed reporter for Politico -- not my fave -- did lead with this good headline:

Success Academy stays mum on chairman's racial barb

I wonder how parents of color in Eva's schools will react to this one. Watch Eva squirm. Oy Joy!!!!

Leonie commented:
Loeb retracted- only after NYT reported on his toxic slur of Sen. Cousins, Cuomo has put out critical statement as has Jeff Klein (weakly) but Eva stays mum on her board chair's remarks. 

More background on Loeb here and 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Finally, Democrats are looking in the mirror. That's reason for optimism - Thomas Frank

Faced with this cornucopia of good choices, however, our modern Democrats managed to pluck out a lump of coal. Schumer prefaced the rollout of A Better Deal by saying: “In the past, we were too cautious; we were too namby-pamby. This is sharp and bold.” 
Modern-day Democrats are constitutionally incapable of sharp and bold; Nancy Pelosi’s op-ed announcing the Better Deal in the Washington Post, for example, is swimming in the same sort of ambiguous futurific formulas that Americans are wary of but that Democrats seem to love...... The Guardian
After reading this article I don't see reason for optimism. In fact I see the possibility of the demise of the Democratic Party if the 2018, 20 elections prove to be a disaster -- and with so many senate seats up for grab the Republicans have a chance to increase their majority, even if they lose seats in the house. We are heading to a one party system nationally and locally -- except for urban areas.
Read Schumer’s op-ed and you discover that what this actually means is giving employers tax cuts to encourage them to “train workers for unfilled jobs”.
That’s right: it’s a reference to the so-called skills gap, one of the most backward but fact-resistant articles of faith in the Washington credo. Accepted by leaders of both parties, it essentially blames unemployment on workers themselves: the reason people don’t have jobs is because they aren’t skilled enough to get those jobs, presumably because they didn’t study the right thing in school.
Everything comes back to education, which makes a lot of sense to an elite that rationalizes its rule by educational credentials. But in truth, what American business leaders need in order to fill those vacant positions is not a tax cut – they need to offer more pay.
I'm tracking articles on the internal issues facing the Democratic Party -- a good chunk of my discussion with a caller from the Dems yesterday trying to raise money was related to this issue. Ed Notes reader Abigail Shure sends me loads of these, including this one. He argued with me about this Better Deal stuff -- I wish I had read this before he called. I raised the dysfunction of the NY State Dems - and this NY Times piece makes that very point-  Tensions Flare as Cuomo Confronts Democratic Rift - the headline in the newsprint editions was starker about Cuomo's role -- State Democrats' Rift Looms Larger as Cuomo's Star Rises

I mentioned Cuomo, Booker and Rahm Emmanuel as "stellar" Dems.

I emphasized the Dem Party abandonment of unions, their base. Just look at Emanuel in Chicago and his war on the teacher union -- which he seems to be winning.

Frank makes this point:
Making it easier to form unions is another idea that would pay off hugely for Democrats down the line, as workers discover the power of solidarity and begin to identify once again with the other constituencies of the left. Truth be told, there are dozens if not hundreds of Reagan/Clinton/Bush policies that Democrats could promise to reverse that would open the door to working people.
Below is the first part of the article with a link to the rest.

At the end of July, the leadership of the Democratic party bestirred themselves from their comfortable Washington haunts and paid a visit to a small town in Virginia, where they assumed a populist guise and announced before the cameras of the world that they were regular folks just like you.

The occasion for this performance was the launch of a Democratic party manifesto that bears the uninspiring name, A Better Deal. Its purpose, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer wrote in the New York Times, was to “show the country that we’re the party on the side of working people”.

Famous for being one of Wall Street’s greatest friends in Washington, Schumer makes for an unlikely populist. Still, reacquainting Democrats with their working-class roots is a worthy goal, and a politically necessary one these days. 

Working people have been deserting the Democratic party for decades, making possible numerous Republican triumphs. Furthermore, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out how to appeal to them in the fourth decade of the great race to the bottom.
Adopting some of Bernie Sanders’s proposals would be eminently suitable for such an endeavor: universal healthcare, free college, going after the big banks, to name a few. 

Making it easier to form unions is another idea that would pay off hugely for Democrats down the line, as workers discover the power of solidarity and begin to identify once again with the other constituencies of the left. Truth be told, there are dozens if not hundreds of Reagan/Clinton/Bush policies that Democrats could promise to reverse that would open the door to working people.

“It is time,” she writes, “to ignite a new era of investment in America’s workers, empowering all Americans with the skills they need to compete in the modern economy.”
Empowering Americans with skills for modernity? If the Democrats mean, workers will be paid more, why not just say it? Even the noncontroversial promise (noncontroversial among liberals, I mean) to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour is clouded on the Better Deal homepage with enough wishy-wash to make one doubt the sincerity of the party’s Solons. 

Besides, one can’t help but remember that the liberals have had many opportunities to act on their good ideas. Take their determination to “aggressively crack down on unfair foreign trade” and their many vows to take action against high prescription drug prices. Both would be awesome! 

But then recall: just last year, the Democratic administration was aggressively doing exactly the opposite, working hard to pass the wildly unfair Trans Pacific Partnership, which (among other things) would have increased Big Pharma’s power to gouge consumers of prescription drugs.

A Better Deal is not even particularly liberal. Consider the vague promise that I mocked about giving people skills for the “modern economy”. Read Schumer’s op-ed and you discover that what this actually means is giving employers tax cuts to encourage them to “train workers for unfilled jobs”.

That’s right: it’s a reference to the so-called skills gap, one of the most backward but fact-resistant articles of faith in the Washington credo. Accepted by leaders of both parties, it essentially blames unemployment on workers themselves: the reason people don’t have jobs is because they aren’t skilled enough to get those jobs, presumably because they didn’t study the right thing in school.
Everything comes back to education, which makes a lot of sense to an elite that rationalizes its rule by educational credentials. But in truth, what American business leaders need in order to fill those vacant positions is not a tax cut – they need to offer more pay.

Wages need to go up. Then there will be incentives for properly skilled workers to drop what they’re doing and take those jobs, while other people will go and get the training, etc.

But business leaders don’t want to do that, and so here come the Democrats to get them off the hook with a tax cut. This is completely 180-degrees the opposite of a pro-worker solution.
Now, let us compare the Democrats’ manifesto with one that actually succeeded. For the Many, Not the Few was the title of the Labour party’s proposal to voters as the UK headed for its general election in June, and as you might surmise from the manifesto’s title, it was made of considerably sterner populist stuff than its American counterpart. 

Both documents bang away at a “rigged” system; both acknowledge the alienation of ordinary people in these post-recessionary times, but the British iteration is strong where Better Deal is weak; its demands are clear where ours are vague; it is remarkably free from New Economy cant and quite specific about its aims. For example: a national investment bank. Public ownership of public utilities like water and the mail (!).

MORE, New Action, UFT Team Up to Back Charter-Spectrum IBEW Strikers

Give James Eterno a lot of credit. He has his eye on the labor union ball - even when it is not the UFT. He brought the strike against the swine at Spectrum to our notice the on the the ICE(caucus) blog.
He contacted Mike Schirtzer with a suggested resolution of support by the UFT. Mike shared it with Jonathan Halabi (New Action) and he made some revisions. The reso was then sent by Mike to Leroy Barr who said he would pass it on to the Executive Board for an email vote -- it passed. 

Read it at the ICEUFT Blog 
Now I will not claim that cooperation with the UFT leadership is an earth shaking event but making our enormous membership aware and causing our people and their families to make the point to the Spectrum sales force that they will not use them (they are the former Time-Warner- and note stories that they are cutting back on NY1) -- it might have some effect.

Of course, ideal would be to find a picket line and show support.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

RTC Roundtable: The Producers -- Video Podcast

John Panepinto, (Franz Liebkind in The Producers), sits down with  major characters for a deep dive into the theater. A brilliant conversation about community theater, acting as a profession and what it would take, favorite roles, dream roles -- and how they got here.

Published on Aug 2, 2017
Host, John Panepinto, sits down with the cast of Rockaway Theatre Company's "The Producers" to discuss their backgrounds, process and love of all things theater.

Jeremy Plyburn
Craig Evans
John Panepinto
Erech Holder-Hetmeyer
Brian Sadowski

And Catherine Leib

Shot by: Danielle Fisher, Andrew and Alexandrea Guzman.

Ed Deformer and Netflix Founder Reed Hastings is Why the Democrats Have a Problem

This morning I got a call from someone in North Carolina connected to the Democratic Party pleading for my contribution to stop the right wing/Trump agenda. I told him NO. He seemed astounded to hear that coming from someone who was clearly left leaning. I ranted about the Dems not supporting unions, their core constituency -- Clintons and Obama - and what did former Labor Secty under Obama try to do for unions? Remember Wisconsin? And how about that they did to the teaching profession and their support for ed deform?

I told him to call someone else and he was wasting his time but he wouldn't give up -- I said the Dem Party has a long way to go to win my trust, especially on ed policy. Finally, his supervisor told him to hang up.

Then I turn to the NY Times and read this article about Google firing the employee who expressed his opinions on women and tech: 
Rising Dissent From the Right In Silicon Valley: The Culture Wars Have Come to Silicon Valley

I imagine people on the left cheering his firing. I'm not. I do believe we can't run a one way track to free expression --- the left justifies themselves by branding comments as hate speech and that gives them the right to oppose it.

The article talks about Trump tech supporter Peter Thiel, who is in many ways despicable for his views but I don't have problems in his expression of them.

But look who is acting as a cop for the left?
Mr. Thiel, a member of Facebook’s board of directors, was told by Mr. Hastings, the chief executive of Netflix, that he would receive a negative evaluation of his performance on the board because of his support for Donald J. Trump.
Reed fuck'n hastings? Hastings, who supported Hillary, is a reason I won't give a dime to Democratic Party. Here are a few links to Hastings and education deform.
Thiel, Hastings
  1. Reed Hastings' donations, students boo DeVos, remediation ...
    May 11, 2017, 5:00 a.m. Reed Hastings' donations, students boo DeVos, remediation reform: What's new in education today
  2. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Launches $100 Million Education ...
    Netflix CEO Reed Hastings' education fund kicks off with a $1.5 ... Hastings has been interested in education reform for ... FORTUNE may receive compensation for ...
  3. The battle of Hastings: What’s behind the Netflix ... - Salon
    Oct 14, 2016 · And much of Hastings’ school reform ... a former Virginia elementary school teacher who now writes and consults on education issues. “Reed Hastings ...
  4. Jan 01, 2014 · Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings may be best known for upending the entertainment industry, but he has also built a reputation as an ardent ...

Monday, August 7, 2017

Chalkbeat, Subsidiary of Ed Deform, Beats the Anti-ATR Drum

...why should they talk to working teachers when Students First and others pay people to spout The Gospel According to Gates and Walmart, both of whom fund Chalkbeat?... NYC Educator
Have you been wondering about the obsession of ed deformers over the ATR question, not exactly the most pressing education issue of our time? I and others have talked about what is behind this. But count on their shills in the press to keep the issue going hot and heavy.

Chalkbeat, that paragon of ed deform journalism, once again leads with the ATR issue in Monday's morning report

Rise & Shine: Who is in New York City's controversial Absent Teacher Reserve?  Five things we still don’t know about who is in New York City’s Absent Teacher Reserve

Oh, goody -- they are finally going to talk to ATRs to get some answers. Let's see now:
A 2014 report from the advocacy group TNTP estimated that 25 percent of teachers in the ATR pool then had been brought up on disciplinary charges. 
You mean that TNTP, founded by Michelle Rhee 20 years ago? Now there's a group to believe. I wonder if they contribute to Chalkbeat.

Let's see, maybe after TNTP they actually talked to some ATRs:
Even if teachers are strong performers when excessed from their schools, one principal told us, the time they spend outside the classroom and in the ATR could be harmful, since they are unlikely to receive the same professional development as teachers in full-time positions.
Of course, go talk to principals and cite "some critics":

New York City principals balk at plan to place teachers in their schools; some vow to get around it

More principals' opinions -- this one is a fun one:
some critics have raised concerns that the teachers would be placed primarily in low-income areas of the city, in the struggling schools likely to suffer most from teacher vacancies.
Wow - they are so worried about placing ATRs in low income areas but have no qualms about hiring brand new teachers. Yeah, trust principals.

This is the Chalkbeat lead-in:
Much of the debate around the Absent Teacher Reserve revolves around the qualifications of the teachers in the pool, and what kinds of schools they work in. We rounded up questions we've asked the education department and union officials about the ATR, but haven't gotten answers to. ... Chalkbeat
Really? Much of the ed deform debate we read (here, here, here)
revolves around how ATRs are treated, how they are products of bad ed policy and bad union policy, how fair student funding incentivizes principals to not hire high salaried people, etc.
I think of the great crew of teachers we met last year in the struggle over the closing of JHS 145 in the Bronx. Are some of them ATRs?  Our CPE1 pals could have very easily been ATRs if they were found guilty of even the most minor charge -- their principal was removed the day after they were exonerated - proving she fabricated the charges -- we believe in consort with higher ups at the DOE - yet she is still functioning somewhere in the DOE.

After all, she vus just following orders.

But Chalkbeat must present the anti-ATR position and they do so by raising questions they don't have answers to -- a tactic used to create doubt. They have been criticized for not talking to ATRs -- there are only a thousand and I guess they are hard to find -- though we see them all over the blogs.
DRAIN THE POOL A new policy for placing educators from the Absent Teacher Reserve into schools -- even potentially against a principal's will -- has raised many questions and pushback. Here's what we still don't know about the educators who are in the pool, despite multiple requests for information. Chalkbeat
Look at the title -- Drain the Pool -- remind you of someone we know who was going to drain something but loaded it with more swamp creatures. But then again deformers try to brand ATRs as swamp creatures.

[By the way - at least one reader claimed I was mistaken to say I was an ATR back in 1967-1968 when I was exactly that - we were on the organization sheet under that category- but on one school.]

Arthur did good job of savaging Chalkbeat - read it here:

Monday, August 07, 2017

Reformy Chalkbeat Doubles Down on ATRs, Informs Readers It Knows Nothing