Responding to the ridicule of teachers and the teaching profession by politicians and self proclaimed "experts"!
"Where is Albert Shanker now that we need him?" - Walt Sautter

Friday, 28 September 2012

Cerf Says "Notion of School Privatization is Ridiculous" - Really??

A comment from a viewer: "I do not know if he actually can tell the difference between a lie and a truth. Remember, it was at this meeting that he said that it is a lie that he wants to privatize public education, and called the notion ridiculous - while just months before approving a K12Inc managed school?!"
Cerf's statement about no interest in school privatization brought to mind an article that I read a month ago. I have added it below. This article certainly contradicts his assertion. What do you think?? 
Op-Ed: A Call for Fairness in School Options
All our children deserve quality schools, and quality education within them
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By Junius Williams, Esq., August 1, 2012 in Opinion |4 Comments

In law school, we were taught to evaluate contracts, including leases, looking at the interests created and protected within the four corners of the document. Using this approach we can see which party has the most power by determining the dominant interests, despite public proclamations to the contrary. Through this lens and looking at a recently state superintendent approved long-term lease with an option to buy public school property granted to a charter school in Newark, we see the inequity of bargaining position that has been visited upon the taxpayers, parents and students in Newark. If one examines the interests advanced in this document, we see evidence of the belief held by many people in Newark that we have a two-tiered education system in Newark, one for charter schools and their private partners, and one for the general population of students.

So let us examine the lease with option to buy 18th Ave. School, between Newark Public Schools (NPS) and TEAM Academy. This lease-purchase arrangement was recently the subject of a Newark Advisory Board veto, but was overridden by District Superintendent Cami Anderson. The tenant is a nonprofit corporation, but not TEAM. Under the lease, the tenant has the option to assign (or transfer) its interest to any entity with which it is “affiliated.” This assignment is not subject to NPS or even state approval.
 Also, the tenant or its “assignee” has an option to purchase the building which can be exercised on or before July 1,2013 at a “market price” which will reflect the value of a beat-up, old building, built in the 19th century. A cheap sales price is therefore guaranteed.

But then the document makes reference to use by the tenant or it assignee of a federal program called the Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) to renovate the building after the option has been turned into a contract of sale on July 1, 2013. Upon a call to The National Education Foundation, I learned that New Jersey has been allocated $32 million under this program. But the state, which runs the Newark District, has processed $14 million for renovation for charter school use, but none for public school use. The $17 million remains uncommitted, but the Newark District under state supervision has not stepped forward, although eligible. The governor has frozen state bonds available for school construction. Why can’t the DOE ask the Economic Development Administration to sell and guarantee these interest-free bonds under this program for NPS to improve its general population schools, requesting the use of the Face Book money as the 10% match? This would enable the District to modernize 18th Avenue, issue short-term leases to TEAM or any other charter school with a right to reclaim possession upon sufficient notice. The city is growing and the taxpayers would then preserve a valuable asset for future use.

Under the lease, a private entity will enjoy the benefits of the appreciation in the value of 18th Avenue School, using the taxpayers’ money to fix it up, after it has been sold at a rock bottom price. The new private owner of the school can lease it back to NPS or even TEAM at top dollar, and depreciate and get other tax advantages if it is for-profit entity.

The injustice of this policy is also seen in rental revenue in four short-term leases, also approved by the state through Superintendent Anderson at the same time as the 18th Avenue lease-purchase agreement. NPS administrators revel in the projection of $500,000-$600,000 in rent from all five leases. Between the commencement of the lease and the date of sale, 18th Avenue School will be leased for $1.50 per square foot. The best-projected rental price for another school is $5.25 per square foot. However, business property in Newark is going for about $14 to $17 per square foot. The QZAB bonds have been available to the state for years. If Newark buildings were renovated and upgraded using the QZAB and/or state Abbott bond money, the district would be in a better bargaining position to rent unused schools at a higher price, and thus earn two or three times more rent. The sum of $500,000-600,000 is not very much money when the district has a shortfall of $36 million, caused in part by increased reliance upon charter schools.

Instead of a policy to empty the buildings of neighborhood schools, and enter into a lease-sale scheme that will turn public real estate over to private interests at bargain prices, the state should use all available funding, including QZAB, and Abbott construction bond proceeds to renovate and construct new schools for the general population, providing them with improvements such as science labs and electrical upgrades for high-speed internet, or complete rehabilitation in the case of schools like 18th Avenue. The state should use its resources equitably, rather than provide good deals only for charter schools and their partners. All our children deserve quality schools, and quality education within them.
More in Opinion »
Junius Williams, Esq. is the Director of the Abbott Leadership Institute.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Should Classroom Observations Be Like A Play Review

A Typical Observation Form Used in Teacher Evaluations

I don't see "Does the teacher know what he/she is talking about?"
This is one of the most important things about the lesson! Having everyone "engaged" in the "show" and not providing accurate information is meaningless!
As a matter of fact, it is worst than meaningless because it causes a student to believe the information is correct when it is actually wrong. The point of education in the first place is to convey accurate information to the next generation! 
This is what is wrong with allowing supervisors with little or no knowledge of the subject matter to observe and evaluate teachers.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

May I Suggest An Addendum to the Report?

Here are some ways they might have forgotten:

501. End teacher bashing and disparagement by politicians and the media.
502. Require NJDOE executives to have real teaching experience before they dictate policy from on high. (Not four years in a private school or no experience at all - Please read my Friday, December 9, 2011 piece - "It Takes One to Know One!" ).
503. Require NJDOE executives to come to schools and demonstrate how it is to be done (preferable inner city schools).
504. End the constant state testing. (Stop the flow of huge sums of money to EST)
505. Stop the constant educational scheming (T&E, QEA, NCLB, QSAC, etc. - Please read my Tuesday, February 14, 2012 piece "Cooked Up Schemes and Catchy Titles") and the funds required for their implementation. Let's use the money to actually educate children.
506. End administrative appointments based on cronyism and patronage.
507. Require all those who make classroom observation to have knowledge and experience teaching the subject they observe.( - Please read my Sunday, March 25, 2012 piece "The Power of Observation").
508. End the constant push to privatize public education.
509. Stop listening to the rants of the self appointed "education experts" (Michele Rhee, Cami Anderson, etc.)
510. Stop claiming that schools are riddled with "poor teachers".
511. Remove "poor" tenured teachers (and administrators) using the tenure laws that currently exist. (The cost could be very low if BOEs didn't always hired high priced law firms to pursue them. Please read my Feb 19, 2012 piece - "$100,000 Questions About Tenure").
512. Encourage respect for teachers and the teaching profession. (How can children respect and learn from teachers when they are continually disrespected by politicians and the media?)
513. Stop trying to squeeze in religion and religious beliefs into the school curriculum under the guise of valid scientific theory.
514. End the front page exposés of teachers "accused" of crimes. What ever happened to "innocence until proven guilty?
515. Start making pension payments instead of tax breaks for the rich.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

I saw this on FB ! Aint He Just Grand!

I saw this on FB saw this on FB and I copied the picture and some of the comments:

"There is alot of talk about him running for Governor of New Jersey?"
"Love my Cory."
"Love his quote...don't preach to me about your me by example."
"Love this guy."
"Did you listen to his speech last night at the convention. AWESOME!!"

Here's my comment:

"Is this the same Cory Booker who charged $10,000 for a commencement speech at The College of New Jersey?
Is this the same Cory Booker who sides with Cami Anderson about eliminating tenure?
Is this the same Cory Booker who supports the elimination seniority rights?
Is this the same Cory Booker who is buds with Joe D. (who kisses Christie's fat ass) and then collects his pension while he is still working the same job?"

It seems to me that either people are awfully gullible or poorly informed. Maybe both?  

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Which Party Despises Educators the Most?

Which party despises educators the most?
It's Hard to tell!
I guess the Democrats just hide it better!
Diane Ravitch's blog

Do Educators Have a Political Party?
August 24, 2012 //

Paul Thomas of Furman University says that educators have no political party, because no political party today supports educators.
The Republican party is downright hostile to public education and to teachers.
Romney’s education agenda calls for privatization.
It is the most radical rightwing document of any major political party in my memory (and I have a long memory).
Romney would be a disaster for American public education, for the schools that enroll almost 90% of the nation’s children.
His agenda is not conservative, because he wants to destroy a cherished part of our American tradition: free public education.
His agenda is radical.
But what of the Democrats?
Thomas nails down the Obama-Duncan routine of good cop-bad cop as well as the double-speak surrounding Race to the Top.
When the public sector unions and public education were getting a thrashing in Wisconsin in the spring of 2011, neither Obama nor Duncan showed up. Instead, they went to Miami to join with uber-privatizer Jeb Bush to celebrate a school that allegedly had been turned around by firing the staff (no reporter bothered to follow up and notice that the school in question was still on a list to be closed because it remained one of the state’s lowest performing schools even after the staff was fired).
Obama and Duncan repeatedly echo Republican themes about education, pushing charter schools, merit pay, firing teachers and principals as a “reform” strategy, etc.
It’s telling that when Romney announced his agenda, the Obama camp responded by saying, “we are doing that already, just look how much Governor Chris Christie likes our education program.” Pathetic.
I know that Obama gave a speech the other day saying all the things he should have been saying and doing for the past four years (but hasn’t). Is the change real or just more “reformer” rhetoric?
We will see. Actions speak louder than words.

"Where is Albert Shanker now that we need him?" - Walt Sautter