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, December 30, 2014

Protest rally at Gov. Cuomo's inaugural address

Protest rally at Gov. Cuomo's inaugural address

Monday, December 29, 2014

A rally protesting Gov. Cuomo's education policies inaugural address

"A Protest of Governor Andrew Cuomo's Education Policies" inaugural event is picking up momentum on the Facebook Social Media site since posted on Sunday afternoon.

The Buffalo News reported Saturday night that  the Governor planned to be in town on New Year's Day, Thursday at 4:15. PM,  to give an inaugural  address at the Buffalo History Museum located at the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Nottingham Terrace.

About 150 have indicated they will be attending the 3:30 PM event and over 1,000 invited and the invite list is growing as those invited also had invited  others.

From the Common Core to schools denied their court mandated Campaign for Fiscal Equity funds, his continuing of the Gap Elimination Adjustment, teacher evaluations tied to standardized testing, a privatization of education along with school closures in the Buffalo Public Schools are all concerns that have spurred on the rally against the education policies of the Governor. 

The Buffalo address is the second for Cuomo after he delivers one in NYC at
the World Trade Center on Mahattan on Thursday morning.

Gov. Cuomo has been running around lately to many events believed to garner publicity for himself as he explores a run for the White House in 2016.

Unless he does  an about-face on his education policies Govenor Cuomo will never realize his political aspirations to be the next president of the nation. 

Small Cities Lawsuit starts in January could affect other resources starved districts in New York State


October 29, 2014

After waiting six years, the parents and children in eight NY, high poverty, low wealth school districts will finally get their day in court. The plaintiffs in Maisto v. New York – known as the “Small Cities” case – are challenging New York’s persistent failure to provide sufficient teachers, curriculum, reasonable class sizes, interventions for at-risk students, and other resources deemed essential for a sound basic education under the NY Constitution. The eight Small Cities districts are Jamestown, Kingston, Mount Vernon, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Port Jervis, Poughkeepsie and Utica.

Last month, the case was assigned to a new Judge, and a new trial date was selected.

Judge Kimberly A. O’Connor has set January 21, 2015, as the date for the start of trial in the New York State Supreme Court in Albany. William Reynolds of Albany-based Bond, Schoeneck and King is lead trial counsel. David Sciarra and Wendy Lecker of Education Law Center are serving as co-counsel, along with Gregory Little of the White and Case firm. Megan Mercy, associate counsel at NY State United Teachers (NYSUT), is also on the trial team.

The outcome of this trial will not only impact the 55,000 students in these eight high need districts, but could well affect similarly situated students in resource-starved districts across the state and in New York City.

Education Law Center prepared this primer with answers to frequently asked questions about the Small Cities case.

Reprint from ELC

Friday, December 26, 2014

Elizabeth R. Berlin, New Interim Commissioner of Education NYS

As Governor Andrew Cuomo moves forward to implement his "aggressive educational agenda," Elizabeth R. Berlin, executive deputy commissioner of state education department has been named  the new interim State Education Commissioner. Berlin worked last year in the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.
She'll share the responsibilities with deputy commissioner Ken Wagner,  spokesperson Dennis Tompkins said.
She is statutorily required to succeed Commissioner King. Tompkins didn't say why she had to work along side of Wagner, though her name doesn't appear on the NYS Certificate Holder website, and Wagner's  does appear certified in business administration, school district administration and psychology from 1999 to 2005.  

This is a video of  New York State Office of Temporary Disability & Assistance (OTDA) Executive Deputy Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin delivering remarks at the 12th Annual New York State Supportive Housing Conference June 2012, before appointed executive deputy commisioner under King in 2013.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Governor Cuomo, New Education Czar

Now that Commissioner John B. King, Jr has jumped ship as we learned on Wednesday, December 10, the opportunity for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to assume a greater role in educational policy making is more likely to happen. And a link is cited below on the appointments Cuomo made to his cabinet with the titles of deputy secretary of education, assistant secretary of education and an associate in education. With all the hedge fund donations lining his pockets, the Governor surely now can continue to collect more  money from what many have viewed as a conflict of interest for him and a political cash cow.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: New Education Czar?

By Douglas E. Gerhardt
"As widely reported in the press following the implausible statistic that 96 percent of teachers in New York state are effective or highly effective while at the same time, students in those schools are proficient in math and English to the tune of 34.8 percent and 31.4 percent, respectively, Governor Cuomo sent a December 18, 2014 letter to outgoing Commissioner King and Chancellor Tisch. In thatletter, the governor (actually through Director of State Operations Jim Malatras) posed 12 pointed (sometimes compounded) questions for the chancellor and commissioner to answer. These range from issues related to the clearly flawed APPR system of evaluating teachers to broader topics such as possible school consolidation, tenure laws and even selection of the Board of Regents. The final question encourages the chancellor and Board of Regents to design “an open and transparent selection process so parents, teachers, and legislators have a voice” in the selection process to replace Education Commissioner John King. Prior to the letter, Chancellor Tisch promised an honest selection process – nothing was said about openness or transparency. The chancellor did not mention what the alternative would be."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Supervisor of Attendance still vacant

The posting for Supervisor of Attendance first advertised back on August 14, 2014 and posted two times through October and November wasn't filled in Buffalo Public Schools.
Meanwhile, the NYS Education Department labeled four "time out" schools. And unless plans are designed to turn them around, they face closure.
So, it is  important for the district to fill the position of Supervisor of Attendance to ensure students are attending school daily and benefiting from a free public school education, especially during a period of school closures.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Commissioner King new post

Commissioner John B. King, Jr. resignation appears planned earlier with the impending departure at the end of the year of Deputy Secretary of Education James Shelton, formerly a program officer at the Gates Foundation  Arne Ducan appointed to an innovation post and later his deputy secretary of education.  Shelton's departure was the topic of an  Education Week article in October.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Commissioner John King stepping down

New York State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr.  is finally stepping down to the approval of many critics unhappy with his performance as the top educational leader in Albany.

Besides criticized for  his lack of experience for the job, appointed in 2011, there were many complaints about his overall leadership and statewide public relations fiascos  from standardized testing to teacher evaluations.

As the youngest state education commissioner,  his leadership has come under attack for his  implementation of the APPR  teacher  evaluation system followed by the Common Core Curriculum.

And his interference in the Buffalo Public School System, including his public criticism of former Superintendent Dr, Pamela Brown had caused him problems with the former African American female majority bloc on the Buffalo Board of Education, especially former at large  school board member Florence Johnson.

Interestingly , Interim Superintendent of the Buffalo Schools, Donald A. Ogilvie was pursued by the new  majority bloc on the Buffalo School Board because of his association with Commissioner King. 

And  is the Interim Superintendent Ogilvie still stepping down after one year? And the distinguish educator Judy Elliot, what happens to her post? 

Also, what will happen to the BOCES CTE programs students in two Buffalo schools are enrolled?

And now that he has quit as the commissioner, what will happen to the Buffalo Schools turnaround plans for the four schools and the threat of closures? 

“It is the best early Christmas present I could have hoped for. Hopefully the Board of Regents will take their time and find a commissioner who is able to engage the field and help bring education in New York forward," said Carol Burris, who was named New York’s 2013 High School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York and the National Association of Secondary School Principals in a Valerie Strauss article on the Answer Sheet Washington Post.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Bennett High School public meeting for a new school and charters begin requests to locate at Buffalo Public Schools

The public meeting of Bennett High School Alumni's proposal for a new high school  will be held on Tuesday, December 2, 2014, at 7pm in the auditorium.

The proposal features various pathways to graduation from a Regents Honors  to career technical education programs. The building trades are the focus of the  CTE programs.

It is important for the community to attend the meeting to learn about the new proposal for Bennett High School since the State Education Department labeled it an "out of time" school facing closure, if it doesn't propose an acceptable education plan to the district by mid December.

And Interim Superintendent Donald A. Ogilvie has appointed a committee  12 to review  and evaluate the turnaround plans for Bennett, East, Lafayette High Schools and MLK  this month.

Also, the school board majority bloc voted Tuesday at  special board meeting to accept requests from local "high" performing charter schools to either co-exist in a district building with another  charter, or with another school in a district building or take over the building.

Interestingly,  a Calvados comment in the BN story on Nov. 26,  cited an August 19, 2014, State Ed  Press Release with a list  Reward Schools.

"NYSED designates high performing public schools as "Reward Schools. "Reward Schools are either schools that have high achievement or schools that have made the most progress in the state and do not have significant gaps in student achievement between subgroups. For 2014-15, the state identified 354 NY public schools for their list. There are 248 charter schools currently approved to operate in New York State as of October 2014. Only seven of these charter schools appear on
NYSED's list of Reward Schools and none are located in WNY."

Tapestry Charter School visited Bennett last summer and has indicated an interest in the Bennett High School building, while Health Sciences Charter School founded in Tonawanda in 2009, until it renovated the old ECC building and moved to this location on Ellicott Street in 2011, has submitted a request to State Education officials in Albany to open an elementary school at the Dr. Martin Luther King building on High Street in order to offer K through 12.

Back in October, the Buffalo Board of Education principally the Majority Bloc voted for a resolution favored by board member Larry Quinn that would allow any Buffalo Public School to become a charter school. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Michael Brown's High School Is An Example Of The Major Inequalities In Education

Rebecca Klein
Huffington Post
Before Michael Brown became a symbol of racially charged unrest, he was a recent high school graduate days away from starting college.
That high school diploma was hard-earned, his mourning mother has said. "Do you know how hard it was for me to get him to stay in school and graduate?" she told news station KMOV. "You know how many black men graduate? Not many."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ned Regan, remembering a true public servant

Ned Regan, remembering a true public servant

He was a product of both public and private education, and I think that made him particularly proud to teach at a public institution that he said attracts “the best and the brightest” from across the city, across the country and, from what I saw in the classes that I visited, across the world. 

What really jazzed him was the fact that he was teaching, and learning from, first generation Americans. He often spoke of their hunger for knowledge and their drive. He loved being part of their lives and they loved him. - See more at:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Supervisor of Attendance position still vacant in Buffalo Public Schools

Donald A. Ogilvie Interim Superintendent & BPS Board of Education

The Supervisor of Attendance position is still vacant in the Buffalo Public Schools. Why? 

The job was posted on August 14, 2014, the candidate offered the position had allegedly declined and it was reposted on October 25 and reposted on November 7.

I had applied  for the position and interviewed in the first round but eliminated never provided a reason or even told why I was eliminated in the first round of a three tier interview process. 

I  sent an email to the Chief of Talent Management  to inquire about the status of the position when it was first posted. He responded the second interviews had already been scheduled. 

Also, Section 3213 NYS Education Law requires that a Supervisor of Attendance must be a certified school attendance teacher. Besides possessing this credential, I've a school district administrator certificate as well, and the second language preference posted on the job description.

It's shameful this critical leadership position continues empty in a school district with over half  failing or designated focus or priority  schools by the NYSED.

And there are over 9000, chronically and severely absent students in a district with a population of 34,000.  So, despite City of Buffalo residents qualified to fill it, the district rather keep it vacant.

Before schools are closed, it may be better to revamp how candidates are interviewed and offered positions in the Buffalo Schools.   It may reveal the problems are not failing schools but a hiring system that behooves a thorough investigation.

Veterans Day Salute to my Dad

Korean War Veteran : Domingo Rosa Cordero & Aurea Rosa Rey
Korean War Veteran: Domingo Rosa Cordero
Thousands of Puerto Rican youths volunteered for the Korean War.  My dad Domingo Rosa was one of these men. More than 43,000 Puerto Ricans served in the Korean War,  most with the 65th Infantry Regiment, and 3,540 killed. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Education Hot Topic In New York As Election Nears - WBEN NewsRadio 930 : Buffalo & Niagara Falls, NY

The Common Core bashing has both  the Democratic and Republican candidates either critical of its implementation or want to rid it completely abolish it  during a hotly contested gubernatorial election year. The Buffalo Teachers Federation is supporting the Green Party candidates Howie Hawkins and Brian Jones, while New York State United Teachers union similar to the 2010 election has not endorsed for governor this year.And a member of local groups have joined the newly created, the High Achievement New York coalition to advocate continuing the controversial implementation of a curriculum that has been troublesome and too costly for cash strapped public schools in cities across the nation.With a list of about 27 members composed of local, state and national groups, it includes the following members from Buffalo: Buffalo Education Reform, Buffalo Niagara Partnership

Buffalo Urban League, StudentsFirstNY

Education Hot Topic In New York As Election Nears - WBEN NewsRadio 930 : Buffalo & Niagara Falls, NY

Friday, October 31, 2014

Green ! Green! Green! Education voting Green...

The Democratic Party has suffered great losses as thousands of former loyal followers aligned themselves to the Green Party in the upcoming  gubernatorial  election.

Diane Ravitch, a leader educator and author of many books on American public education has given her support to the Green Party. 

She said, "I am voting Green because Howie Hawkins and Brian Jones will fully fund our public schools, will stop the over-testing of our students, and will not open more privately managed charter schools. They promise to rebuild our public schools, which enroll nearly 90% of the state’s children."

The Democratic Party has been viewed in the last 20 years as a major advocate for the privatization of the American public schools through the leadership of Democrats for Education Reform, drawing its support from hedge fund investors and  billionaires.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo seen as a favorite cheerleader of the group is expected that many of his traditional constituents are voting  Green instead, while others in the education field even view the Republican candidate as a better choice,

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

More charters to open in Buffalo

Besides a protest rally held outside of City Hall about the privatization of the Buffalo Public Schools before the Buffalo Board of Education meetimg last night, Interim Superintendent Donald A. Ogilvie discussed the timeline for the  so called out-of-time schools, Bennett, East Lafayette and MLK. RFP expected to be issued next week .
While,  by mid December and January, proposals for charters would have also been submitted to the State Education Department in Albany. 
And the school board will be able to enter  into  independent negotiations with these entities authorized to open charters In Buffalo.
All of this of course is not without controversy and the minority bloc on the  School  Board have criticized the State Education Department for allowing only new charter schools to open in the city of Buffalo.
There is concern in the community about the rush to not only open new charter schools in Buffalo but also to convert "any " of the Buffalo schools into charters  as directed in the resolution that was passed at the previous board meeting.
Also there was the issue brought up by members of the minority bloc on the school board about the district own turnaround plans.
In other matters, $1.6 million was approved to hire more teacher aides in  kindergarten in the district and to reduce class sizes.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Charter Schools proposals approved for Buffalo

"Education Department is taking the unprecedented step of opening up a new round of charter school proposals specifically for the City of Buffalo. While it is no longer possible for interested charter school founders to submit proposals for new schools in the rest of the state for 2015-16, Buffalo is an exception."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lafayette High School Phase Out Resolution

The Resolution before the Buffalo Public School Board tonight Sandra Tan uploaded to Twitter..Lafayette High School is now considered by the NYS Education Department as a "time out school," because it has not achieved the  level of  academic progress to remove it from priority school status in the three years identification as a PLA/SURR and not implementing the EPO contract with John Hopkins University....

"I find it maddening that the superintendent can put forth resolutions that aren't publicly available BEFORE THE MEETING. How is any member of the public supposed to know what's on the agenda for serious consideration when such big resolutions can be brought forth at the last minute? "
Sandra Tan, BN blogger

Sunday, September 7, 2014

State ousting school boards, the New Jersey story.

In 1995, "State education officials took control of the Newark Board of Education's headquarters today, dismissing top school executives and assuming responsibility for the day-to-day operations of New Jersey's largest school district." After the superintendent arrived home in his school district issued limousine, the state took it away.

Buffalo Public Schools and post Katrina school reforms

As the Buffalo Public School District moves forward in implementing a new vision of the schools, it helps to read about the experiences of other school districts  in some of the areas outlined  for an overhaul such as a Recovery School District (RSD), more charters, and vouchers to learn what happened.

 " New Orleans will have only five public schools—those operated by the Orleans Parish School Board. Everything else will be charters. The post-Katrina path to almost 100 percent charter education began with the post-storm shutdown of the city’s struggling public schools and the firing (recently declared illegal) of some 7,500 unionized teachers and other school employees, predominantly African American women. The assault was accelerated by a massive infusion of foundation and entrepreneurial investment in new charter schools, and years of state and federally supported deregulation and privatization."

Today, the  New Orleans Parish schools are privatized made up entirely of charter schools, and research about the experiment indicates that students are no better off  than when it was operated by the Orleans Parish School Board before Katrina hit in 2005.

In a public school system that enrolled 60,000 students today, it's a mere 33,000 and there are thousands of children never enrolled. And "one 2010 study found 4,000 teens, about 10 percent of the city's student population, not enrolled in school at all."

For example, the Recovery School Districts, a statewide school district set up to turn around schools the state labels failing started before Katrina in 2003, when 107 schools out of 128 were transferred to  the RSD.  While,  the state acquired the buildings, bargaining unit teachers disappeared to be replaced by Teach for America recruits and nearly all the charter schools hired teachers from TFA too. Yet, in "2011, 79 percent of these RSD schools were rated D or F."

Once this happens, it is difficult if not impossible to reinstate schools under democratically elected control through elected school boards.

In an attempt to reclaim schools that were not failing back into democratically elected control through the old Orleans Parish School Board, the court rejected its bid. Although the post Katrina law limited schools under the RSD to five years, in 2010, this was amended to allow each charter the right to decide if they wanted to return to local control and most of course opted not to return.

And  children with disabilities were seen as liabilities by the charters that hired inexperienced teachers many of them with limited experience working with special education children such as TFA recruits.

Yet, the 2,500 students awarded vouchers didn't do any better than those in the RSD, while this voucher pilot failed, still it was implemented statewide.

"I tell people that if you believe what has happened in New Orleans is OK—stripping away our right to be self-determined in public education by taking our schools away—are you ready to say that America should not operate on democratic principles? Because that’s where this leads."

New view of Finnish Schools

A new look at Finnish Schools not the top world education many led to believe.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Jail time for Gov. Andrew Cuomo over Moreland Commission fiasco?

" The chickens are coming home to roost" in Albany as the probe continues into Gov. Andrew Cuomo's allegedly interference in the Moreland Commission before he disbanded it after nine months of existence.

Reports are surfacing, Gov. Cuomo continued to keep four staff members of the defunct commission on the government payroll at the tune of $418,000. He quickly reassigned them to other positions when the reports surfaced.

Remember this is the same governor who wanted to cap the salaries of superintendents of public schools back in 2011. Yet, his appointee to head the defunct Moreland Commision was earning $175,000 to keep tabs on a handful of commissioners that in nine months racked up $350,000 in expenses.

When the dust settles after the investigation if he doesn't resign before the probe on the Moreland Commission digs deeper, it may reveal that Andrew Cuomo has been among the most corrupted ever in the history of the state and one of the most unfriendly to public education.

Former Senator and Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada must be jumping for joy in his prison cell waiting for Andrew Cuomo possibly sentenced for his role in corruption as the Moreland Commission fiasco unfolds.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ogilvie new interim superintendent Buffalo Public Schools

"I am pretty much an open book, they know I'm inclusive." Donald Ogilvie, 7/9/14

Saying he wants to lead this district, " I think can make a difference," former superintendent of BOCES, Donald Ogilvie is thevnew interim superintendent of the Buffalo Schools.

He signed  a contract at the school board meeting tonight, but there were four abstentions by the  African-American women board members disagreed with the selection process though when questioned by reporters said "could have been done in a different way."

 He wants to work with all board members, calling it "bringing the temperature down," and feels empathy for anyone  who feels  not apart of the process.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Common Core media conspiracy

When we think about who owns the media in this country and controls the major political parties, the Common Core hoax becomes clearer. 

And it is how thousands of school districts in the nation got hoodwinked on a curriculum less rigorous than what many had in place before the Common Core Learning Standards stealthily popped out it seems from no where. 

"...Stealth is not a good strategy for pursuing fundamental, sustainable change to 100,000 schools educating 50 million other people's children. " 

Yet it is what the main media had engaged in a conspiracy to allow the corporate influence of the curriculum. 

This  allowed the switch to the Common Core one less rigorous than what many public schools had in place in the nation before the corporate and government complicity to stealthy change it,

"U.S. news outlets mentioned the term Common Core 453 times in 2009 and 1,729 times in 2010--the period during which the standards were first unveiled and during which more than half the states adopted them. Compared to later reporting, that critical early coverage appears pretty sleepy. "

"In 2011, the number of mentions increased to 2,313. In 2012, it more than tripled to 7,800--when the issue had already been settled in most states. Last year, in 2013, the media discovered the Common Core, with 26,401 mentions--or more than ten times the number of stories from 2009 and 2010 combined. " 

Yet, "in 1999, when fewer than 30,000 students were enrolled in voucher programs, there were more stories written about vouchers than were written about the Common Core in 2009, 2010, and 2011combined (when states enrolling more than 41 million students signed on). "

"The standards were rarely covered even as states prepared to alter instruction for tens of millions of students. Now, the media has been making up for lost time."

The information cited on this blog piece came from Rick Hess article March 2014 for Education Week "Did the press do its due diligence on the Common Core?"

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Professor Garrison to speak about education reform at Karpeles

Teachers encouraged to attend an upcoming evening seminar with acclaimed education professor Dr. Mark Garrison.

Dr. Garrison is a professor from D'Youville College who has become nationally recognized as an expert and critic on current issues and reforms in education.  He speaks about a wide range of topics that are impacting students, parents, teachers, and administrators in today's educational climate:  CCLS, Privatization, APPR, and Local Governance structures in education and in our democracy.  

We are privileged to have a scholar like Dr. Garrison as a local expert right here in Buffalo.  This event is completely free for all teachers, and is being conducted completely for free by Dr. Garrison.  It is being sponsored for all teachers by a handful of Buffalo teachers who know Dr. Garrison personally, have taken his education classes, or who had graduated from high school at the same time as him.  

It is the hope of all those involved with this evening that we can build up an audience that is passionate and inquisitive about the current issues.

Please mark your calendars for this great event, Tuesday, June 10th, from 4-6pm, at Karpeles Church at Jersey and Porter Avenue (Corner of Grover Cleveland HS -- behind Kleinhans).  Information submitted by Professor Patrick Foster, Global History at Lafayette High School.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Buffalo School Board endorsement…..

Buffalo School board endorsements

Buffalo Public Schools still searching for Deputy Superintendent amid a looming school board race

The Buffalo Public Schools updated its search for a deputy superintendent, the posting appearing on the website Education Week, TopSchoolJobs.

The position was filled in February, when Superintendent Pamela Brown appointed Dr. Mary Guinn after the Buffalo Board of Education ended its contract with the consulting firm Cross and Joftus last fall.  The firm had a contract for one year costing nearly half a million with Guinn making $290, 359, irking some members of the Buffalo Board of Education alleging it was more than what the superintendent of schools earned.

Previously, Guinn filled the position on a interim basis last March 2013, but at the time she didn't possess the certificate from the New York State Education Department in Albany that she obtained in February 2014, when Superintendent Brown appointed her again.

And the Buffalo News reported two years ago in the fall that the Say Yes to Education organization had contracted Cross and Joftus for $400,000 to develop a new organizational structure for the district, action plans for the superintendent's cabinet, a building based budgeting model to encourage "earned school autonomy" and a model to evaluate the work of the executive cabinet.

Hence it was Guinn's role to supervise the implementation of the new Central Office organization after she ended her temporary duties as the interim deputy superintendent.

Superintendent Brown has been criticized for hiring an executive staff viewed as top-heavy with Central Office administrators similar to her former predecessor James Williams.  In fact, she has done many similar things, yet Williams stayed on for six years, while Brown a female superintendent right or wrong; she has been held to a higher standard than her male counterparts, surviving attempts to oust her as soon as she was appointed.

Moreover, there is an election looming on May 6, three at-large school members will be elected from a slate of 14 candidates, there are two incumbents seeking office, attorney John Licata and Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold.  Florence Johnson who served for over 20 years is not running for reelection this year.

And it's hard to predicate the outcome of the race that five years ago two whites and one African-American won seats.  If it happens again, two whites and one black, the quorum on a nine-member school board critics of Brown sought will be in place to end her contract.

Yet, something is different about this at-large school board race that happened five years ago and another that didn't happen.

For one thing, big time money is pouring into the race from the unions, wealthy groups and individuals and outside organizations such as StudentsFirstNY, all vying to influence school board policy that governs 57 schools 12 in good standing.

Also, there are racial overtones in the race and a sector in the black community composed of the old-guard individuals and organizations  like George K. Arthur, Frank B. Mesiah,  and the NAACP that view the elections as a threat to the presence of blacks on a school board where they first served for the first time in the early sixties and after the City charter changed to an elected school board in the mid-seventies.

And a good example was the reelection of Mayor Byron Brown though he lost his popularity in the two terms he has been in office among blacks before elected again, African-Americans  came out to keep the Mayor in office for another third term.

Interestingly, Puerto Ricans and other Latinos have become energized too, and for the first time two Latino candidates Ralph Hernandez formerly on the school board and Sergio Rodriguez former Mayoral candidate are both in the at-large school board race this year.

Whether the deputy superintendent position is finally filled depends on this election, as well as, the tenure of Superintendent Brown in the district.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Judy Elliott, building based budgeting and more...

Judy Elliott, distinguished educator, commented "this is not a safe environment for people to speak their truths" in her presentation to the Buffalo Board of Education at the meeting on March 26.

Still too many schools continue on the State Ed list of failing schools, while more has to be done about the "focus " schools to prevent them from becoming "priority." Elliott told the School Board the district has enough of its own data to do something about improving the failing schools and don't need to wait upon State Ed for more data.

Interestingly,  other comments from the public on the Buffalo News School Zone blog concerned the new district policy of school based budgeting.

For example, "Re: Title I .. The expectation is that Title I funds will be bumped 2% in the Federal 2015 budget (per U.S. Dep't of Ed's website) .. NY's share should for next school year should remain flat, but still consistent with funds that have been recv'd each of the past 3 years. 
Yet, Dr. Brown's school -based budget program is cutting discretionary Title I funding by half, resulting in cuts in reading teachers, guidance counselors, etc. These people are essential and there is no logical explanation as to why this is happening--state funding doesn't affect Title I.. Sandra, I looked forward to the BN looking into this issue."

Here is another comment on the blog on this topic.
 "Along the lines of Title I funds... "building based budgeting" is hurting some of the neediest schools. It all sounds great, as though schools get to decide how to spend money, but it distances central office from any responsibility to provide services fairly."

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Distinguished Educator, Judy Elliott presentation to the Buffalo School Board

Dr. July Elliott:  Photo: Mike Desmond, WBFO News 
Dr. Judy  Elliott, the distinguished educator, Commissioner John B. King, Jr., appointed to the Buffalo Schools, the School Board hired July 2012, started as a part-time consultant, the same time as Dr. Pamela C. Brown the new Superintendent of the Buffalo Schools.

She presented a report to the School Board at a meeting on Wednesday, March 26. Elliott presents quarterly reports as part of her contract with the district.

Elliott, quiet as it is kept, has been mentioned as possible superintendent of the Buffalo Schools, though she left the area to pursue her career goals, some have asked why not?

Her appointment as distinguished educator generated controversy because the Buffalo School Board had to hire her whether they agreed to her appointment or not about 18 months ago.  She works  as a consultant from her home in Tampa, Florida after spending a tumultuous period as Chief Academic Officer in the L.A. Unified School System after a new superintendent allegedly wanted his own team and  disagreed with her advocacy of a controversial homework policy in the district. 

Her contract bought out in 2011, she has been moonlighting as an educational consultant in the nation's public schools, Buffalo Schools is one of these schools she works for around the country.  When appointed it was rumored, the distinguished educator was the first step in the State Education Department move to take over the Buffalo Schools, "something prefaced by the  proposed take-over legislation discussed back in 2009.  And it may happen if there is as she noted at the School Board meeting Wednesday night, …"the number of low-performing schools has not changed."

"Judy's here to help - be a source of support for the superintendent and the board," present recommendations to them and ultimately to us at the (State Education) Department on how to move things forward in Buffalo.  The only thing I'm interested in is improved student outcomes." Commissioner King (10/7/2012)
Tiffany Lankes blogged in the School Zone blog , Buffalo News, it was the second time in three months she had seen Elliott.  This information cited here mostly comes from her blogging at the March 26, Buffalo School Board meeting  

She described her role as a new one for the state education department and said it was "meant to be a technical resource and assistance."  Lankes blogged, Elliott provided, "…an overview of her role and the system she is using to assess progress."

Elliott said  there are  two key questions in doing this work: "Are you happy with your data and  is every classroom one you would put your own flesh and blood?"

She spoke about her collaboration with Superintendnent Pamela Brown to develop the new Common Core Formative Assessments and the audit on special education by the Great City Schools, working with the Educational Partnership Organizations and walking classrooms. And she has been working with the Chiefs of Leadership in Central Office more closely this year on student support plans.

Lankes blogged, Elliott, Elliott mentioned, "Student placement is a huge issue in this district, especially students with special needs, English Language Learners and those overage and under credited ."  She said, "some areas of concern are promotion and retention, student placement, service for suspended students, attendance taking, discipline data, general use of data to improve outcomes for students."

Elliot continues, "We are working on a better system for taking and tracking attendance. "(The Buffalo Schools  introduced the student information system Infinite Campus, the summer of 2012, but personnel have complained they were offered minimal staff development to understand how it worked from the clerks to the administrators. And the system is a problem because  teachers  have to document attendance period by period though last year home room attendance introduced).

She cited as "our big picture issues…support for students with special needs and those learning to speak English."

A  "Comment from Kim" on the blogged mentioned, "we were directed to change IEPs in the building to reflect whatever services we happened  to have available.  We told the state, Barb Trunzo. Nothing ever came of it." News blogger Lankes responded, "Kim, I'd like to hear more about this can you e-mail me,  so expect a story sometime about this issue if "Kim" follows through and e-mails Lankes.

Elliott recommendations included "…improving instruction for struggling students, increasing collaboration with principals and help them to understand policies and procedures.  School Board member, Carl Paladino responded, "It seems to me we spend an awful lot of money hiring consultants to train our principals."  To this, Superintendent Brown responded, "that with all of the new mandates and standards you don't always have expertise in the schools."

Eilliott adds, "we are spending a lot of money on professional development, but need to do a better job tracking or return on investment." 

Hmmm, does it include her work and reports about the Buffalo Schools?  How is the district return on investing in a distinguished educator?  How is it helping to move the failing schools she oversees, the Priority schools from the state list?  Some have questioned in a cash strapped school district facing a $50 million budge deficit why is a distinguished educator needed at nearly $200 hourly in addition to daily  paid expenses who principally  resides out of town?  That includes Dr. Mary Guinn and Company from Evans Newton Consultant group. 

Lankes blogged, "Elliott was taking about the retention issue and the need to track kids throughout the year to make sure they are not sliding.  Right now, the number of low-performing schools has not changed.  It behooves us as a district to go  in and look at our focus schools to make sure they don't slip into priority school status."

Superintendent Brown chimed in that district still"... waiting to hear from the state on whether any of our schools can come off the priority list."  While School Board member Paladino said, "it's nice to say we're making progress, but it's hard to see it."

Elliott sees as a problem, …"disconnect between Central Office and the schools, and that's typical in large urban districts.  If we want to show improvement, we need to listen to the people at the building level."  How?  In what way is Elliott proposing this listening should be done?  Isn't there suppose to be a "one-stop shop" mechanism Superintendent Brown proposed the different Chiefs of Leadership are suppose to do through their offices in Central Office to help the leaders in the school buildings?

At large School Board member Florence Johnson chimed in saying " I am amazed at how long it takes the state to get us data."  Elliott responded , she "…thinks you have the data you need to make decisions." And Elliott continued to respond to School Board member Johnson, "the last thing you want to do is wait for someone to give you a report to take action.  The challenges with students who are overaged and under credited  are well-documented in this district." 

 If so what is Elliott doing to contribute to the discussion to remedy the situation some ask? And she added, "you're held accountable for all of the kids who show up in your building.  You can calculate that right now."  And, "theres's lots of stuff in the district's power and authority that we could be doing."

Elliott commented, " if we're suppose to be taking attendance, we need to make sure we're doing it.  Principals have Apps on their telephone to help track which teachers are taking it."

A secondary staff member making a "Comment From Guest" said something very interesting why attendance is challenging to keep up with on the  new student information system Infinite Campus:

"...students come in at any point in the period (especially in chaotic schools). It becomes unreasonable for teachers, who need to be teaching, to keep updating Infinite Campus throughout the period. Especially when they need to be in the hallway during transitions and therefore can't do it between classes." 
Attendance is an issue. I have the same class all day but have to take attendance eight times.....its time consuming.
"When you have to stop teaching to log in and take it attendance it makes it hard. You have to stop what you are doing for at least five minutes eight times a day. Total of forty minutes lost on teaching"

Interesting Elliott quoted as saying, "this is not necessarily a safe environment for people to speak their truths." Hmmm, did she mean her own truths or district staff in general?

Elliott presented for about one hour at the meeting. Her reports are on the district website .

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Buffalo school board voted on turnaround plans for MLK and Bennett

Hot off the press, the Buffalo School Board tonight Buffalo News blogger, Tiffany Lankes, commented: 
"...narrowly approved turnaround plans for Bennett High School and Martin Luther King Multicultural Institute. At the same time, the board rejected a plan to merge the former Pinnacle Charter School with Harvey Austin School."

Buffalo Public Schools scandal brewing

Buffalo Public Schools trending downward a scandal brewing behind the appointments Superintendent Pamela C. Brown made to her leadership team in October.

Buffalo News reported yesterday two of her most senior top administrators and cabinet members aren't properly certified and don't hold the professional administrative experience to have been appointed to their  positions. How is Superintendent Brown moving the district forward with what appears as a leadership team made up of charlatans many of the comments in the News report allege?

Park District school board member Carl Paladino divulged the information in a memo gone viral and appearing in the Buffalo Rising news blog on the Internet. He named   it "Collusion and Conspiracy"
and has called for a criminal investigation.

Also, an official at the State Education Department, Albany when contacted chimed in to say:
"The failure of these two administrators, and of the district, to secure the proper certification means that the district could be held liable for any decisions made by Williams or Alexander on a daily basis, according to Education Department spokesman Tom Dunn." And “A district necessarily incurs liability in such situations,” he said.

What adds to the Shenanigans is the response of the Director of Human Resources now called "Chief of Talent Management" ironically, Darren Brown, appointed to his post by former interim Superintendent Amber Dixon.

Darren Brown, in the BN article said “I should have followed up on this.” 
"He also said that while the district could face liability issues until Williams and Alexander are properly certified, both administrators work in collaboration with the superintendent and other administrators who do possess the proper certification, so district exposure should be limited."

Incredible! The Buffalo Public Schools loss credibility not only because of this shoddy leadership team, but has a "Chief of Talent Management" who doesn't know how to do his own job primarily helping the superintendent appoint "talent" to her leadership team. 

Is this why the Buffalo Public Schools are failing? Some say too many at the top and in school buildings that don't know what they are doing and skimming top $$$ from a school district with a $50 million budget deficit !

Monday, March 10, 2014

Buffalo Teachers Federation sends memo today about Phil Rumore

Teachers today received a memo from Edie LeWin a Vice President of the Buffalo Teachers Federation regarding Phil's Health. 

The e-mail sent at 1:06 surprised teachers thinking the information and status of Mr. Rumore would had been divulged last Monday when the union president admitted to the Albany Medical Center. 

Instead, the ordeal of the health status of Rumore portrayed in the local media first before the union notified the teachers one week later only after the press reported the story.

LeWin wrote, "when he arrived in Albany, it became necessary for him to seek medical assistance.  He was admitted to the hospital on Sunday evening with four (4) broken or cracked ribs and fluid in his chest cavity."

She added, he didn't  want it publicized but the media became aware of it. He is doing well expected to be back later this week.

Yet, Rumore said in the Buffalo News story today "...although he is improving, he doesn’t know when he will be discharged from the hospital or if he will be able to fly home, given the extent of his injuries. And he was not able to walk until Friday.

LeWin, a retiree, Vice President of the BTF wrote she was in regular contact with Rumore seeks and rely on his guidance in all matters encouraged the teachers to continue contacting the office  with their concerns.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Mary Guinn rehired deputy superintendent

Dr. Mary E. Guinn, a former consultant with the Buffalo Schools rehired again as temporary deputy superintendent the Supetintendent Pamela Brown announced at a press conference Tuesday.

Guinn was appointed to the post last March for three months though she lacked the proper NYS certification in school administration. 

This time she has the credential NYS Education Department issued to her February 2014.

Although, Superintendent Brown criticized for appointing her she justified it 
citing Guinn's extensive professional experience as an administrator, as well as, her involvement in overseeing the reorganization of Central Office into an administrative structure led by a chief instead  of assistant superintendents.

And four assistant superintendents named  community superintendents under former Superintendent Williams are now a chief with an office and staff to work under a new one-stop-shop leadership apparatus to provide more support to the schools. 

Board member John Licata had asked the superintendent to provide the School Board feedback on the one-stop-shop at a previous meeting. 

While an  at-large School Board race is looming in the background, the nominating petition drive started in February about 11 candidates hoping to win a ballot to run for only three seats.

And whether the superintendent stays or goes will be a major impetus to the voter turn out in this election along with Dr. Barbara Nevergold both School Board member Carl Paladino has attempted to unsuccessfully remove. 

The fate of Guinn whether she stays beyond June also depends on the up coming at-large Buffalo School Board elections in May.

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