Mamie Till Mobley

"There was an important mission for me, to shape so many...young minds as a teacher. God took away one child but...(gave) me thousands. And I have been grateful for the blessing." Mamie Till Mobley

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Teen outcast kills two at Ohio HS

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

NYDaily news published controversial test scores state Ed plans to use to evaluate teachers

More than a dozen teachers earned lowest scores on controversial rankings News analysis: 50 earned highest marks for several years in ratings, which union blasts as flawed 

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ex journalist Joe Williams executive director of democrats for education reform talks about the PAC

Joe Williams, a former newspaper reporter, is the executive director of Democrats for Education Reform (DER) founded in 2007 with offices in 10 states. DER, a political action committee,  started 4 years ago because "Democrat donors" viewed politicians as not helpful on educational issues. Political problems surrounded education and  "entrenched interests" dominated it. The "entrenched interests," are  teachers, unions, administrators and any other pro-public education group. The PAC called President Barack Obama "our poster child."

New York teacher evaluation system is all flaws

On Thursday, the New York State Department of Education and the state teachers union came to an agreement on revising the teacher evaluation process to include students’ standardized test scores.
Earlier in the week, on Tuesday, New York’s highest court ruled that New York City’s Department of Education could publish the ratings of 12,000 teachers, which are also based on standardized test scores.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Teacher evaluation ends tenure puts cart before the horse

The teacher evaluation system touted in the media simply erodes teacher tenure further or ended it completely because two  "ineffective" annual reviews essentially starts a 90 day appeals process to terminate a teacher.
Never mind the so call assessments and standardized tests, the "rigorous and nationally recognized measures of teacher performance" are yet in place. But certainly, those lining the pockets of Governor Andrew Cuomo, the likes of Democrats for Education Reform are applauding, while still contributing to his coffers.
What makes it more egregious is the kowtowing behavior of the New York  State United Teachers,  President Dick Iannuzzi called it "good for students and fair to teachers."
The  most laughable feature  is the "I gotcha" observation, the unannounced one, what many teachers have described as gestapo tactics.
Also, principals hardly have time to be instructional leaders in urban school districts where many buildings are short staffed. Now they have to do multiple observations in a given year to buildings that have sometimes 50 to 100 teachers. And districts have to hire "independently trained observers" more consultants in cash strapped times to help implement the teacher performance requirements of the evaluation. Interesting to see how they schedule these new multiple observations.
And there are far too many principals that have never been teachers and too many of them have spent less time as teachers than the ones they are suppose to observe. And they have the audacity of touting it as a "national model."  It's simply an erosion of teacher tenure.
The teacher evaluation system agreed on Thursday is archaic  more suitable for the one room school house than a modern public school system with teachers in fields such as speech therapy, home and careers, social workers, psychologist, counselors, physical ed, art, music, technology, etc. It targets the classroom teachers in math and ELA assessments and high school teachers in core subject areas.
What's so embarrassing is the New York State Education Department almost canceled  the  January Regents if it were not for the pleas of Mayor Michael Bloomberg to his rich buddies to donate to have them reinstated and still there is concern it will happen again  next year.  It's the old adage of putting the "cart before the horse" this teacher evaluation system.

Tenure in New York

Tenure in New York

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Buffalo News cited Katie Campos as playing a key role in helping Gov. Andrew Cuomo to write the teacher evaluation agreement. So here is an old blog post about Ms. Campos posted after Gov. Cuomo appointed her secretary of education on June 2011.

Friday, February 17, 2012


CONFIRMED CASES OF TEST-CHEATING (2008-2012) According to FairTest’s records, in the past four school years in New York cheating cases have been reported multiple times and as a systemic pattern

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the Answer Sheet

"High-stakes testing requirements must end because they cheat students out of a high-quality education and cheat the public out of accurate information about school quality"

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more from the Answer Sheet

"Since the enactment of NCLB, standardized testing has become more about measuring the teachers, principals and schools than accurately assessing the children’s academic progress."

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from the Answer Sheet

"Widespread cheating is an inevitable consequence of overuses of high-stakes testing, as predicted by renowned social scientist Donald Campbell. In 1976 he wrote in what is now called Campbell’s Law, “The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor. . . when test scores become the goal of the teaching process, they both lose their value as indicators of educational status and distort the educational process in undesirable ways.”

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Teacher comments New York Times...

Kaye  white

Who will be evaluating the evaluators and determining that they are actually qualified to know good teaching when they see it? Too many principals spend a minimal amount of time, if any, as teachers before "moving up" into administration. In the case of a K-6 school with which I am familiar, the principal has no background, training, nor experience in elementary education--all of her prior education career was spent in middle or high schools, and none of it as a regular classroom teacher. What kind of fair and balanced and well-informed evaluation is she really able to offer an elementary teacher?

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Anita  Bradley,  

Not only that, but who gets the kids with poor attendance. I have had several students just this school year that have missed 20-25% of class time and did not choose to do makeup work. So, their lack of achievement on the spring testing will come back with "my name" attached to it...... Who is going to be responsible for that? Report as Inappropriate Tammy Manor-Tinta • February 17, 2012, 2:02 AM 20% doesn't sound that bad to me. I have one student that missed 95% of the year last year and I have him again this year and he's been to class once.

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Linda Ingmanson, NYTimes teacher comments

Teaching has become a punitive career. Anyone going into it now must be smokin' crack or have a secret desire to be whipped and humiliated. So sad that it's gotten to this point. There's a reason teachers are abandoning the profession in droves. Expecting teachers to make all students good in all things by a certain date is like telling doctors they have to cure all their patients of all diseases by a certain date "because I said so!"

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Comments from educators NYTimes today after agreement...

Margaret DeSimone • February 16, 2012, 10:38 PM A huge problem with judging teachers by test scores is on a middle school level the only subjects that are tested are Math and ELA. What will they rate the Science, Social Students, Art, Music, and Gym teachers with? How can this system work? How is it fair?

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More educators comments from the NYTimes...

Phil Lawrence • February 16, 2012, 10:11 PM

I propose a test to evaluate polticians, given to the public at large. Politicians will be rated ineffective, developing, effective, or highly effective based on the public's test scores. The test will include approximately 80 civics based questions dealing with public policy, both domestic and foreign, as well as local when applicable. Salaries will be adjusted according to test scores, and ineffective politicians will be fired and remain ineligible to hold future office.

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Comments from educators on teacher evaluation system reached today...

Michael Clark • February 16, 2012, 10:03 PM

Student test scores are not an accurate measure of a teacher's effectiveness; for any given teacher they tend go up and down from year to year like an elevator. They reflect far too many factors that are entirely outside of the teacher's control. So assigning them any proportion at all in a teacher's evaluation is illogical. It shows how much the loony teacher-accountability movement has been able to stampede everybody toward their preferred solutions.

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Federal judge rules in favor of district in step case

In a 14-page decision on Friday,  U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny  affirmed the decision of the New York State Court of Appeals last March that denied city employees  contractual step increases after a wage freeze the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority  imposed from April 2004 to June 2007, according to a story in the Buffalo News.
Although interim Superintendent Amber Dixon applauded the decision she said it has not affected the  $42 million budget deficit for 2012-2013 school year and district has to keep  funds in reserve in case the plaintiffs appeal the ruling. One of the  plaintiffs  the Buffalo Teachers Federation plans to appeal the decision.
Buffalo teachers continue without a contract that expired in 2004. And still  there is the issue of the single carrier health insurance the district imposed in 2005 while negotiating the contract with the teachers.  When the district realized the union was not going to just give up the single health carrier outside the negotiation process, it threatened and laid-off about 88 teachers that included librarians, school counselors and attendance teachers.  Although many of these teachers returned to their positions and other tenure areas,  a group of attendance teachers continued laid-off over a six year period only recently recalled to their former positions.
The teachers laid off during this period from 2005 to 2011 were the subject of a lawsuit involving the single health carrier insurance.  An arbitrator had ruled the district must negotiate the single health carrier and reinstate the laid-off teachers with back pay.  However, the Appellate Court ruled in favor of the union that the district had to negotiate the single health carrier but vacated the part involving the laid off teachers and the Appeals Court denied request to hear the case. 
That the judges or the arbitrator did not know  many of these teachers were contract/tenure ones does not excuse the Buffalo Board of Education from acknowledging  the laid off had been a wrongful one because there had been no financial reason for the lay off of the teachers especially since the district continue to reap the profits realized from imposing the single health carrier insurance and there had been no mid-year crisis as the district alleged.
It's time the Buffalo Board of Education acknowledge this wrongful lay-off and award the teachers back pay especially now since they are  in a better financial position having prevailed in the wage freeze step case on Friday.
Attendance teachers have contacted the Buffalo Teachers Federation for a meeting with President Phil Rumore to discuss the status of the back pay.  The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 15, at 3:30 PM at the BTF headquarters on Porter Avenue.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Buffalo schools parent group supports Gov. Cuomo's reform agenda decreases aid to district

"The governor in January announced plans to increase school aid 4 percent overall in 2012-13 — but said districts that do not implement the new evaluations by January 2013 would lose their increase in aid. Twenty percent of a teacher’s evaluation will be tied to student growth on state tests, and another 20 percent will be tied to local measures of student achievement," wrote Buffalo News Blogger Mary Pasciak, attending the meeting of the District Parent Coordinating Council.

The DPCC passed a resolution at its meeting on Tuesday supporting Gov.Cuomo's reform agenda that will decrease state school funds to the district unless it implements teacher and principal evaluation system by January 2013.

Cuomo hopes to force the end of the successful lawsuit pending in state court  Commissioner John B.King initiated against NYSU Teacher's union.

Why DPCC supports decreasing the state aid to Buffalo schools has many in  the community troubled.

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Say Yes and Cascade are one and the same west school board member alleged.

OK! So, the Cascade Consulting group  is conducting the superintendent search for the Buffalo Board of Education in 90 days as per their proposal. Wow! It sounds too good to be true many in the community say.
The Cascade website is still under construction and created in 2009. And,  Lee T.  Pasquarella, the founder of  Cascade was  hired in the fall 2011, to conduct a similar search for the L'Anse Creuse Public Schools in Macomb County in Michigan, a distance from his  hometown in Seattle, Washington.
Pasquarella received over 60 applications except over at the L'Anse Creuse district  all seven board members reviewed the candidate's credentials.  The pool was narrowed to 12 candidates after cross-referenced with a profile the community had been involved in developing and creating.  Again, the pool narrowed down to three finalist and the interview process begins on February 9, 2012.
The Cascade proposal mentioned Mr. Pasquarella personally conducting more than 200 searches in 20 years and provided a list but only four involved superintendents the most recent, Syracuse, NY; Tacoma, WA; Inglewood Ca and Nashville, TN. The other jobs cited didn't specifically involve superintendent searches but lower policy posts in the districts named.
Yet,  20 years ago Pasquarella worked for Jensen-Oldani & Associates in 1992 involved in the search for the superintendent of the Everett School District though he cites the founding of Cascade in 1990 in his Linkedin page.
And the name Cascade Consulting Group showed up on November 2008 when the Mercer Island School Board paid the group $25,000 for a superintendent search for the school year 2008-2009. The only two working for the firm it appears were Mr. Pasquarella and Kathleen Florio. Still, they are the only two listed in the "About Us" page of their website created in 2009.
And the Tacoma, WA superintendent search  had been conducted internally and previous searches had involved other firms and Cascade is not cited unless it was another district in Tacoma, Wa.
In 2003 John G. Morgan, a comptroller of treasury, office of Education, State of Tennessee cited Cascade Consulting Group as one of the several recruiting firms working in Tennessee.
So, the superintendent search in Syracuse City School District that involved Cascade Consulting is the only one the Insurgent Teacher able to verify through an internet search. Of course this is not to say the group did not conduct the superintendent searches in the states they mentioned in their proposal such as in Tacoma, Wa.; Inglewood, Ca or Nashville, TN. it was just difficult to verify.
So, it appears that the Say Yes to Education staff members, Gene Chasin, Chief Operating Officer,  and Mary Anne Schmitt Carey, President will be involved in the Buffalo City Schools superintendent search, while working out a non-negotiable contract with the Buffalo Board of Education to implement the Say Yes to Education model in the Buffalo Schools though the criticism is escalating as nearly half the board views it as a conflict of interest.
The name of Mr. Kenneth W. Jones,  is mentioned in the proposal having over 30 years of experience but  he is not currently associated with any organization or employer. It's difficult to determine whether he works for Say Yes to Education or for Cascade Consulting Group.
Ralph Hernandez, West District Rep on the Buffalo Board commented at the school board meeting on Wednesday, "I am going to urge my colleagues on the board not to select Cascade.  They do present in my opinion a conflict of interest. Say Yes and Cascade are one and the same," he said.

"It is a precarious time for Texas school districts. Faced with roughly $5.4 billion less in state financing, districts this year will administer new, more rigorous state exams called the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or Staar. And for the first time in high school, the assessments are linked to graduation requirements and final grades."

Parents are considering a lawsuit against Texas Education Department unless policymakers and political leaders exempt high school students from the requirement that 15 % of exam scores count towards high school graduation.

They have argued districts had gotten a reprieve from the results of the standarized test scores and are asking for a similar exemption on the 15% rule.

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Graduation rates unchanged from 2008 to 2010 in Syracuse schools despite Say Yes to Education program

In New York, the 21,000-student Syracuse school district joined in 2008 with Syracuse University and Say Yes to Education, a nonprofit foundation, to offer free college tuition to students who attend 10th, 11th and 12th grades in one of the city’s five public high schools. The students must be admitted to one of a group of more than 80 private and public colleges. Syracuse school officials said that more than 1,000 students had received free tuition through the program, and that the district’s enrollment had increased by 300 students since 2008 as more families moved into the city. But the graduation rate has remained unchanged.

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Former Gov. Spitzer & Say Yes to Education pilot 4 years ago

Plan for a Free College Education A boon for Syracuse parents is tucked away in the bowels of the budget. Under a pilot program, the Spitzer administration is proposing that Syracuse high school graduates be eligible for free tuition to any State University of New York or City University of New York college. The proposal will require the approval of the Legislature and is expected to cost a couple of million dollars annually within a few years. Would the program expand beyond Syracuse? While the Syracuse effort is linked to a program by the private Say Yes to Education foundation, Manuel Rivera, the state’s deputy secretary for education, said, “The success of the demonstration will determine future expansion of the program.”

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Say Yes to Education nonnegotiable agreement with Syracuse school district

When Say Yes to Education agreed to partner with the Syracuse School District, it didn't just give money and support.  
The foundation insisted the district sign a nonnegotiable agreement detailing several steps the district must take. 
The initiative's progress had to be transparent.  Without those guarantees, Say Yes wouldn't provide funds.

Say Yes to Education in Syracuse monies come from Title I budgets....

The program kicked off in 2008 when Say Yes to Education, a national nonprofit foundation, partnered with the Syracuse school district, providing funding and a plan of action. Beyond the central staff, the Say Yes foundation pays for site coordinators at Syracuse schools, who organize the in-school programs, monitor data, and act as liaisons for the initiative with teachers.
Although Say Yes takes its name from the private foundation that started the initiative, it's more than just a partnership between the school district and the private foundation.
In fact, as part of a nonnegotiable pact, Say Yes required the Syracuse district to agree to stipulations that the district would work with community groups, be transparent with funding decisions and academic results, and to find an anchor university to house the Say Yes program.
Say Yes costs about $3,500 a year, per student, and that's not even counting the funds to send students to college. And while Syracuse is immersed in a massive paradigm shift in what a school district does and pays for, funding from traditional sources has begun to dry up.
So, while massive investments are made in after-school programs and student health initiatives, hundreds of teachers lost their jobs.
Yet in most cases, Say Yes and other district programs are not directly competing for the same dollars. Much of the Say Yes money in the district's budget doesn't come from the general fund, which includes teacher salaries, but from schools' Title I budgets, which provide federal funding for schools with high poverty rates.

public comments on Buffalo News blog about Say Yes

Comment From Honey Badger  OK. Let's predict who will win this. My prediction is that the Board will pick Cascade. Say Yes will tell Cascade who to pick. It will be a Broad Leadership Academy grad, like was chosen in Syracuse. The Broad "toad" will be totally allied with our local know-it -all ed "reformers".

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Licata doesn't see a conflict of interest supports idea of a superintendent working with Say Yes

Mary Pasciak:  Licata: I don't share the concern of the conflict of interest. I think the interest is in providing best opportunity for the kids in the classroom. I think Cascade/Say Yes is committed to finding the best candidate. I don't agree with the perception they're just going to select the superintendent for us. If we don't have a superintendent who's willing to work with Say Yes, we're really hampering the effort at the start. Mary Pasciak:  Licata: By working with Say Yes, they can find a superintendent with the temperament. One of the thigns they said, you hire for skill but fire for temperament. They were the only firm that was going to take a measure of candidates' temperament.

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Two board members expressed concern about conflict of interest for SAY YES group with district in superintendent search

Mary Pasciak:  Nevergold: I too have some concerns about hiring Cascade for reasons my colleagues have mentioned. But also they have offered to pay a substantial amount toward cost of search. If that doesn't create a conflict of itnerest, it creates an appearnace of a conflict of interest. I also have an issue with two principles of Say Yes, Gene Chasin and Mary Anne Schmitt Carey, being part of Say Yes search.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Buffalo school board voted 7-2 to hire Cascade to conduct the search for new superintendent

Live blog of School Board meeting at 5 superintendent search and student suspensions

Interim Super Amber Dixon told the school board  committees meeting tonight the national partners working with SAY YES have begun auditing the district financial records of five years, while a curriculum one expected to start in March. The following is from Buffalo News education blogger Mary Pasciak Education Zone blog.
Dixon: The audits beginning in the distirct are with various national partners. They're not Say Yes. They're not Cascade. Schoolhouse Partners is doign audit with county, city and district.
Group starting in March a curriculum audit is Cross and Loftus. But Cascade, I haven't heard their name.

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Whitney Tilson (3rd background)

Whitney Tilson (3rd background)
"Let’s be honest: we need a lot more well-off, well-educated white folks with a personal stake in both charter schools and education reform in general if we’re going to take reform to the next level, both politically and operationally.Whitney Tilson, hedge fund manager and major funding angel for the school privatizing Democrats for Education Reform, thinks there’s not enough rich, educated white folks.( Preaprez) click photo to his blog.

Arne Duncan

Arne Duncan
U.S. Secretary of Education, click photo