July 26, 2008

Duty calls

I guess I’m easily persuaded by synchronicity, so when I get a number of communications on the same topic in a period of a few hours, I feel I have to take them seriously.

First it was the email circulated by Bo Lipari, a software engineer who founded the organization New Yorkers for Verified Voting, which is working to get the state’s voting machines verifiable and auditable. He’s saying that there's no way the machines will be foolproof by November:
It’s become obvious that New York State’s new voting systems will not be able to complete New York State certification testing in time for the scheduled 2009 rollout ...
SysTest, the company contracted to test these machines, has apparently gotten bogged down by delays, and guess what. Those delays aren't just from the inaction and nonaction of the manufacturers, but from the state Board of Elections as well. Here are a couple of reasons for why those machines won't be ready:
— incomplete documentation from the vendors
— documentation discrepancies
— incomplete hardware/software deliveries
— the BOE hasn’t yet approved the SysTest’s “Voting System Specific Test Plans”
— the BOE has not responded to SysTest’s request for policy guidance relating to configuration files.
One could easily ask two questions: Why Is This Happening? and How Could It Be Happening in New York State?

I'm already pissed.

Next I get an email about David Earnhardt's new documentary on voter fraud: “Uncounted: the New Math of American Elections”:
. . . an explosive new documentary that shows how the election fraud that changed the outcome of the 2004 election . . . now looms as an unbridled threat to the outcome of the 2008 election. . . .
[It] examines in factual, logical, and yet startling terms how easy it is to change election outcomes and undermine election integrity across the U.S. Noted computer programmers, statisticians, journalists, and experienced election officials provide the irrefutable proof. . . .
UNCOUNTED is a wakeup call to all Americans. Beyond increasing the public’s awareness, the film inspires greater citizen involvement in fixing a broken electoral system. As we approach the decisive election of 2008, UNCOUNTED will change how you feel about the way votes are counted in America. Of course it didn’t help that The Chancellor did a piece this morning called "Nobody Cares." The fact remains, they do, and so do others.

But even without the coincidence of the emails and the blog appearing at the same time, there was the singularly horrific thought expressed by Greg Palast months ago that the 2008 election has already been stolen.

In an interview with BuzzFlash, Palast talked about how the big boys are working at their disenfranchisement projects, especially for people of color:
GP: [The lists to disenfranchise voters] are the purge lists. For 2004, we have the caging lists. And in 2008, we’re going to have what’s called the verification list. 
BF: Meaning the return of the Jim Crow laws, I assume? 
GP: When I say the 2008 race has already been stolen, about a million and a half voter registrations have been turned down. Even though there have been massive voter registration drives among Hispanics and African Americans, as the churches fill up the bucket, there’s a hole in the bucket where the registrations are being dumped . . . About 40% of the registrations are being rejected on the grounds that they don’t match citizenship files. Well, you know what? It ain’t the Soviet Union. We don’t have citizenship files in the United States. They don’t exist. They can’t exist under the law, which is the U.S. Constitution.
Palast has invited people to steal his new cartoon strip “Vote Theft for Idiots” and pass it around, and I'm pleased to oblige him. These are the first two lessons, and I hope the rest of them will come out before November rolls around. (If too fuzzy, they're clearer here and here.)

Black Box Voting (.org) has put out a tool kit for the elections called “Top 5 Things You can Do to Protect Election 2008”:
1. Get involved — I kinda like the way they tell you that first you have to figure out what type of person you are: hunter-gatherer, networker, empowerer, analyzer, or communicator. That makes a whole lot of sense 
2. Hook up with experienced groups — lists some great ones, and includes a section on Freedom of Information tips. 
3. Protect/defend against deceptive practices (last minute changes, consolidation issues, confusing ballots, deceptive phonecalls and fliers, etc.) 
4. Protect/defend voter lists (register people, help people get photo ID, look for racial profiling on voter registration cards, category switching, etc.) 
5. Voting machines: Protect/defend the vote counts — it mentions some horrible things under this category, like “99% of votes will be counted in secret on computers controlled by government insiders and vendors.”

I poll-watched in Pennsylvania in the last election and experienced some very last minute changes, like the polling place itself. There was also intimidation, against a first-time voter who didn't know how to handle it and against me personally, who was trying to contact the on-call lawyers on his behalf.

The Election Fraud Blog has compiled something called a Beginner’s Guide on this subject with the ominous subtitle “a Broken Democracy Crash Course.” Lots of links there also relating to this unfortunate time in the history of the country when our government disgusts us.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I have to leave blogging for now because there's a real chance of this coming true in November:

and I don’t want to feel that I didn’t do enough to keep it from happening.

July 18, 2008

The winds of change . . .

Sometimes you see a comment that needs its own stage.

These paragraphs were put up yesterday in response to the Ednotes post on the whiff of mayoral de-control in the air.

I'm sure the author didn't write it as a manifesto, but it's certainly on the way to being one.

I wanted to give that pendulum he speaks about in the first sentence just another little push, but before I do: the comments that have come in this morning are equally important. It's like viewing the burned remains of a ravaged profession.

Any student of history is familiar with the "pendulum" effect. That is to say when situations appear to have arrived at a point where the original projected expectations create a sufficient degree of social upset, unrest, and havoc, a counter balancing reaction is initiated, that generally speaking moves things in the opposite direction.

What else is the torturously long reign of "Chancellor" (by Special Waiver) Joel Klein, Esq. over the New York City Schools system, but a microcosm of the Bush years in Washington, DC.

From the very beginning of the Bush years Americans saw rights that were once taken for granted, slowly but surely weakened until those very rights did not even appear to exist any longer.

We witnessed the mindset of the Judges who were appointed and how gradually, over time, those in power became more and more confident that there was almost no affront to the American people that they could not inflict with complete impunity.

Even to the point of insulting the most basic precepts of American Justice, as we know them to be, so that it seemed these people in power might not even hesitate to defecate on the very sheets of parchment on which our American Constitution was inscribed by the Founding Fathers more than two centuries ago.

Is the above, not precisely what we have seen come to pass in New York City, at least as pertains to the mindset of those who have occupied the marbled Halls and walked with a swaggering gait, the echoing corridors of power in the Tweed Court House.

Let us never forget, and remain forever mindful, that this magnificent marbled edifice to rampant and unbridled corruption in all its most ugly forms and manifestations, located at 52 Chambers Street, was named after "Boss Tweed", one of the most nefarious political criminals in the history of this great City.

Just as the misguided policies emanating out of the White House for far too many years have finally visited sufficient pain and misery on the American people to bring this great Nation to its senses — so too can one detect the awakening stirrings of New Yorkers in reaction to having witnessed seeing their beloved Public Schools system taken over and run by a former Federal Prosecutor, from where else — that same Washington, DC alluded to earlier.

And to be more precise, that former Federal Prosecutor, who possesses not slightest or the most minimal Education Credentials to allow him to pretend he qualifies to be a Schools Chancellor, has indeed "run" our schools system - that is to say, he has run it into the ground.

But the great pendulum of History has already been set in motion.

And even as Americans will assure a new rebirth of our Democracy come November at ballot boxes all over this great Republic, from coast to coast and from sea to shining sea, so too will the good citizens of New York City make their voices heard also for the purpose of protecting that which is most dear to them. That is to say, their children.

A cabal of Wall Street types in silk suits, who would sooner give up their American Passports before they would enroll their own children in our City's public schools, are hardly the people who should be in charge of the Fate of more than one million school children who represent our most precious resource. For they are indeed the lifeblood of this thriving City and its greatest hope for the future.

In the US Military do we take a former Partner from "Bear Sterns" and make him a Four Star General, responsible for the lives of one hundred thousand brave men and women in Uniform.

Do we place former stock brokers in Air Control Towers and pray that they bring our planes down safely? Or perhaps you would like the next "triple by-pass" operation on your heart to be performed by a Wall Street Funds Manager or some former Federal Prosecutor.

How did we ever get to this point where someone decided that the best people to run the largest schools system in the nation were people who had little to zero experience in the field of Education.

The damage done to this great Nation by people in Washington ill equipped to lead a Nation much less a corner candy store, is also the same type of horrendous harm that has been visited on the New York City schools system by appointed hacks, stooges and lackeys that do not have a clue, much less any real experience or bona fide credentials to be trusted with the lives and futures of one million children.

We note the countless numbers of "disappeared" teachers who have been exiled to Mr. Joel Klein, Esq.'s vile "Rubber Room gulags", simply for having refused to march in "goose step" order to all his ill conceived policies originating from a lethal combination of abysmal ignorance about the field of Education and learning in general, and of course Mr. Klein's limitless degree of "Hubris".

But let us take heart and recognize that "Change" is indeed in the air. It will rise like a great wind and blow the old order out of the seats of power in our Nation's Capitol. Just as the winds of change will sweep people from the field of Education in New York's public schools system who have no business being there now or should ever have been placed in control of our schools in the first place.

If one is a Federal Prosecutor, then let him stay in the Court System and prosecute. And let those who have devoted their entire lifetimes to the noble field of Education, be allowed to run our public schools system in New York City.

One million school children deserve no less.

— David Pakter

July 15, 2008

When deception is gross

Talking about integrity (and how Weingarten doesn't have much), I wanted to say a few things about the DoE website and how it sells its stuff.

This picture caught my eye a few weeks ago on its teacher recruitment page:

It's arguably the least representative image of public education in the city of New York that I know of, and I am a music teacher. It certainly sets new parameters for the word chicanery.

For one thing, music is not really high on the list of subjects Joel Klein cares about. In his first year as chancellor, he told the middle schools to make more room for literacy and math and cut anything that would get in the way, like the arts, foreign languages, sports, library and guidance (see the NY Times on this). A couple of months ago he slashed funding for the arts (as reported in the Daily News), and The Sun reported recently just how few middle school and HS kids took classes in this group of subjects this past year. There's a consistency in this, albeit of the negative kind.

Then there is the inscrutable choice of focusing on violins, given that string ensembles are fairly arcane and pretty much a thing of the past. If inner city kids are to be given any kind of musical instruments to practice on at home, fragile wooden ones that are constantly in need of tuning are not an ideal choice. That’s why there are way more bands than orchestras these days. So, I can’t figure out what this picture is actually trying to “push.” Esotericism? Elitism? Excellence?

The other thing that puzzles me is why they’ve used a music class, of all things, on a site for teacher recruitment. I’ve applied for 22 music positions in the past year, and if I stood up on a chair and yelled through a megaphone the size of a Chinese gong, no one would ask me to come in for an interview. In a few cases I can document, neither the position or the school itself even existed.

In fact, putting up this picture of student violinists on its recruitment site is a tragic reminder of what the DoE is specifically NOT doing to further arts education in NYC public schools. It also demonstrates how content the department is to portray itself more through artifice than actuality.

The DoE enlisted two outside agencies, Appleseed and the Ad Council, to help with teacher recruitment, and two of the products of the campaign were lay-outs for full-page ads in the NY Times (June 29th and July 6th), their own website (here and here), and public placements such as the one on the left.

I’m not crazy about either one of them. The first ad claims that “The classrooms of New York City are wonderfully diverse.” In aggregate perhaps, but so many are not. An African-American girl is represented primarily by her right arm and the back of her head.

In the ad at the right, the lower-case “t” is very cool, but now is hardly the time to be cute with our language. There was half of an African-American boy in the ad when it appeared in the Times, but he’s been cropped right out of the image on the website, as you can see for yourself.

As for the message in the logo:

it says to me that “New York’s brightest” recruits are bound to be attracted by pictures of super-engaged white and Asian kids, so let’s not make too much of the African-American element in the student population. Or the Indian one. Or even the Latino one.

Even if you don’t have the same take as I do, very few schools in this city look like these ads.

The Ad Council claims it’s been “raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives for more than 65 years.” It certainly raised my awareness on what passes for truth at the DoE, and inspired me to write something about it on this blog.

In spite of the fact that they say they drum up pro bono volunteers to motivate action, I must say I get that same creepy feeling whenever I read propaganda like this:
The Ad Council relies largely on donations from corporations, foundations, and individuals to provide the funds that allow us to deliver our important campaign messages to millions of Americans.
I’m being sold a corporate line.

The DoE is listed as one of the Ad Council’s sponsors, and I have to assume that sponsorship includes payments. Unfortunately, neither its site, Appleseed’s, or the DoE site itself mentions anything about the cost of this campaign.

“Klein has the most extensive — and expensive — PR staff in city government, short of the Mayor,” says Leonie Haimson on the parents blog. Some of it must be housed at the Office of Communications & Media Relations, but it’s all a big secret because that page on the DoE website doesn’t actually say anything about it.

In short, I’m not against recruitment campaigns, I’m against subtle appeals to our prejudices.

I’m not against paying to get the job done, I’m against using the public purse for unspecified payments and no-bid contracts.

I’m not against governmental bureaucracy, I’m against non-transparent bureaucracy, which means it’s anyone’s guess who’s executing the corporate agendas that are reconfiguring public education in New York City.

The missing word

On the occasion of Weingarten's election to the presidency of the AFT, a referral to my post of a couple of weeks ago on how particularly unsuited she is to the job we want her to be doing.

And even if you don't have the time to go back there, did you get a look at the press release the AFT put out?

The missing word in all this is:

July 14, 2008

ATR links — Part II: Teacher reactions

This is the 2nd part of the compilation — what the blogs have to say — on ATR news over the past year.
For Part I, see here.
For Part III, see here.

July 20, 2007: Excessing (anon.)
Goes over the contractual stipulations on Excessing: Art.17B, rules 4-6, and 11. Also tallks about the Open Market and the instructions to the teacher about preparing a resume. Touches on all the issues that are problematic with the loss of seniority placement.

July 23, 2007: Calling All Teachers in Excess! (anon.)
Discusses “Denied a Transfer” on the UFT main site, and the following form. The union still had not called a meeting for ATRs or given any information on the numbers becoming ATRs in Sept 2007.
. . . If you've been excessed and want to be sent some information about how things are going for you, copy and paste the questions below into a new email, answer the ones that you want to answer, and send them to: excessed101@gmail.com. You don't have to give your real name if you don't want to. The data will be compiled and you can say whether you want to be sent updates on what we're finding out.
Your real name (optional) OR a pseudonym to prevent duplication: ________
When were you excessed? Month ________ Year _____
Seniority at the end of June 07: _________________
If you're a teacher, your subject: ______________
Otherwise, your title: _______
Used the Open Market yet? Y/N _____
No. of schools applied to: _______
No. of interviews you were granted: _____
No. of interviews you attended: ______
Has the DOE tried to place you yet (as stipulated in the contract)? Y/N ______
Any factors you think make your excessing not your fault (e.g., school closing): ________________________
Any factors you think make it unlikely you'll be placed in a permanent position (e.g., politics, race; optional, but probably very important): ________
Additional comments: ________________________________________
Do you want to be contacted with updates on the statistics? Y/N ______
If so, your email address: _____________________________

July 29, 2007: UFT To Members: Seniority is No Longer an Issue Because We Eviscerated It (Jeff Kaufman)
[A good discussion on seniority, and many interesting comments.]
EXTRACT: While layoffs, in this economy, seem unlikely (at least for teachers) seniority also plays an important part in most organized sectors in work assignment. The UFT, since its inception, jealously guarded seniority in work assignments including mounting a strike to protect it.
. . . The seniority transfer system became an institutional mechanism to protect this right and while never perfectly implemented it clearly allowed some protection for senior teachers. The DOE developed ways around the seniority transfer system such as not listing all vacancies or working deals with the Union when new schools opened but on the whole the system provided a safety valve based on non-discriminatory criteria for teachers, who needed to move to another school for any reason or no reason at all.
. . . Then along came our new contract and the eradication of seniority transfer and in its place the "open market." The "open market" couldn't fly in the face of historical and fundamental union values any more. It permits the wholesale discrimination against senior and other disliked teachers, Chapter Leaders or anyone else. No longer do teachers have a union-protected work assignment right on transfer.
. . . At the time that the contract was ratified Randi and her union-paid supporters heralded the loss of the seniority transfer system as a great victory for the union. "No longer would less senior teachers be bumped" and "now all vacancies would be listed" were some of the arguments they made.
. . . After a short time it became clear that not only was the "open market" a fraud but an underclass of absent teacher reservists would give the DOE what it wanted…unfettered discretion in teacher work assignments. Teachers could be moved around the system at the whim of administrators.

July 31, 2007: What Joel Klein Really Wants (Norm Scott, UA)
I would like to comment on something the Chancellor has pushed for and what he has actually done.

One of Klein's earliest and most continuously iterated goals has been to be able to put good experienced teachers where they are needed, in the more difficult schools. His two recent initiatives, the Open Market hiring system and the way teachers will soon be paid (directly from the principal's budget), have not only hobbled his cause, but have shown him to be duplicitous.

Experienced senior teachers who indeed want to work in tough schools for a variety of reasons (the commute, the level, the challenge) have just become expensive. It is attractive for a principal to avoid calling them in for an interview, let alone hiring them.

Young teachers who spend a year or two in a difficult school are already looking to transfer out, to what they think is a better school in another district or out of New York City altogether. There is no reason for a new teacher to settle into a school with a difficult environment or one they're not happy in when adequate skills and a low salary makes them highly marketable. They'll apply to the schools with good reputations, and by gosh, they'll get those jobs.

It used to be that job vacancies were frozen until excessed teachers were placed, but the Human Resources people are no longer allowed to do this. The vacancies will be filled with new and fairly newly instructors, some of whom do not yet have a Masters. And even before these young teachers get tenure and full certification, they too will get the chance to look for and take that job in a "better" school. This is not conjecture, I already know of many examples.

The Lead Teacher program puts a few experienced teachers in difficult schools - for a salary bonus, and for only half their time teaching. That's a failure for the city's kids no matter how they spin it, and since it's a form of merit pay, it's a failure for labor, too.
. . . There is not one item in the chancellor's agenda that will put good experienced teachers in full-time teaching programs in difficult schools and make them want to stay there.

The Chancellor is a fraud, the Mayor still backs him, and it looks as if Union leadership has a different agenda than what's in our best interest. I can't believe they thought these schemes would be of any use to the profession in the long run. It's something else, and they don't want us in on it.

August 2, 2007: Do You Hear Snoring? (
Basically a rant against the DoE new guide on how to write a resume for applying in the Open Market.

August 17, 2007: The Excessed and ATR's Want to Meet (Norm Scott, anon.)
There is still no response from the Union, it feels as if they take our dues and don’t really defend . No taxation without representation! A revision to this can be found in the comments (Anon., 4:23) to the next article below.

August 27, 2007: ATR's: What's Next? (Norm Scott)
Discusses the voluntary severance package that might be offered to ATRs. (It’s a year later and severance package not yet announced.) Much more information in the comments.

September 8, 2007: The UFT Leadership and Fuzzy Contracts (anon.)
The ambiguities in Art.17B, rules 4-6 and 11, and Art. 18A.

October 04, 2005: Summary of Memorandum of Agreement (Jeff Kaufman)
ICE on the ball 3 years ago. EXTRACT: Transfers and Excessing: Eliminates seniority transfers. Senior teachers will be required to be accepted by new principal in same way as other teachers. Final decision to hire is by principal. Excessed teachers can be placed as ATR (sub) in district or superintendency (region). (This provision is inartfully drawn and may be the subject of further disagreement) Provision permitting union input in staffing new or hard to staff schools has been eliminated except for creation of personnel committee. Teachers must be notified by June 15 if they are in danger of being excessed.

November 25, 2007: The lady doth protest, but for real? (
Questions the intent and skill of Weingarten. EXTRACT: If Weingarten were playing it straight with us, she’d have been standing up publicly to this chancellor all along and not waiting for us to call, nag, email, blog, or prod her, much less expose, parse, and debunk her public explanations and excuses every time he fires off another round of abuse. After all, this is the man who has pushed children, parents and staff off the board in the devilish game of monopoly he’s been playing with his corporate buddies at the expense of public education. If Weingarten were playing it straight with us, you'd feel her support in your bones.

December 19, 2007: The Zen of being an ATR (
When you’re an ATR, some of the burden is lifted when you detach from the job in a Zen kind of way. “Detachment is the perspective that allows us to enjoy the journey of life,” and other Zen sayings.

January 05, 2008: Why Aren't ATR's Placed First Before New Teachers Are Hired?(Chaz)
EXTRACT: In the real world most companies want older and experienced workers. These workers are the most dependable and mentor the younger and inexperienced workers. Further, the experienced worker is associated with good work habits, loyalty, and trusted by the company. However, in the New York City school system the older and experienced teacher is treated with disrespect and are encouraged to retire or resign.
Too bad our union does not go to court to stop this abuse. Instead Randi and gang just talk, and talk, and talk as the DOE marginalizes the experienced teacher.

January 5, 2008: A new scare in the air ... for ATRs (
Commentary on what was heard in a rubber room, that Weingarten may not be able to do much for ATRs.

January 13, 2008: Reductivism — did we ask for this? (
EXTRACT: As I see it, Weingarten thinks of the word “job” as “the state of being employed.”
. . . Weingarten is reductive: she diminishes and curtails our profession. There are any number of conditions that don't really work for us, like cafeteria duty, staff “development” (professionals don’t need to be “developed”— they need to confer, meet, read, and chew over educational issues and school methodologies), one-size-fits-all staff development, longer days, shorter summers, and meaningless procedures to rebut untruths in the files to exemplify her long record of this kind of diminishment.
But, the wording in the explanation of tenure given on the UFT's own website is vague enough to spell no good.

February 14, 2008: What Will Really Happen to the ATR's? (Chaz)
Discusses Fair Student Funding (FSF) and how it applies to ATRs.
EXTRACT: The UFT should have immediately filed a lawsuit to protect excessed teachers and ensure that no newbie teacher can be hired in their content specialty area until all excessed teachers are placed. Instead the UFT begged the DOE to reconsider and Kleinberg appeared to throw Randi a bone by delaying the implementation of FSF for a year. Big deal, what happens after that? Many principals look long-range and don't want to add more salary. Therefore, look for the ATR crises to worsen under FSF as Randi becomes the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president.
. . . Thanks Randi for protecting the classroom teacher. With friends like you we don't need enemies.

February 18, 2008: UFT Management: on Hold or Just Plain AWOL (
EXTRACT: UFT officials need to keep us informed. They can do it any number of ways, of course, but writing to us or telling us to come down to HQ for updates and Q & A sessions spring to mind immediately. Apart from the single meeting they called a couple of months ago, these people have been mute and we've been pretty much in the dark.
. . . Unless the UFT takes some new initiative in the next couple of weeks, no one really thinks this management has the will, or the clout, to forestall any future corpocrat belligerence.

March 31, 2008: Surviving Limbo: a Handbook for ATR Subs (
EXTRACT: You'd think that the union would have figured out a way by now to give all us excessed teachers who ended up in the Absent Teacher Reserves a little support. Information, I mean. Helpful hints on how to get through the day. . . . If the union is so gung-ho on staff development (and it really is), wouldn't it have been an excellent time to give us some? It's not as if any of us ATRs got any training in how to be a sub when we went to school. We didn't student sub like we student taught.
. . . The fact is union management hasn't bothered, and I'm not all that surprised.
. . . THE ATR HANDBOOK: in 5 parts.

April 02, 2008:I Accuse the Union of Eroding Teacher Rights (Chaz)
Outlines a 12-point plan to allow teachers to teach with respect and dignity. EXTRACT: Sixth, stop allowing the DOE to hire teachers from alternative certification programs (Teach for America & Teaching Fellows programs) as well as conducting an intergalactic job fair for foreign teachers while experienced teachers are relegated to be ATR's.
. . . Eleventh, all excessed teachers must be placed before a school district would be allowed to hire a newbie teacher in that subject area.
. . . Twelfth, make the Fair Student Formula (FSF) for the schools salary blind and does not give the lower salaried teacher an advantage as it does now.

April 12, 2008: Serving at the Principal's Pleasure (
EXTRACT: In this restructured and chaotic bureaucracy they call a Department of Education, there's a remarkable shift away from the kind of balance-of-power system described by Safire towards a de facto “sole authority." Principals and superintendents will have their way with us. They're not firing people outright all that much, but empowered by Klein’s minions and a union that refuses to draw a line in the sand, they are nevertheless managing to thin the ranks.
. . . With the contract under this chancellorship rendered meaningless in so many ways, we are now all serving, whether we like it or not, at the pleasure of the principal.

April 20, 2008: The Fox and the Scorpion (Chaz)
EXTRACT: Look at all the agreements the UFT have with the DOE that were either altered, changed, or reneged on.
*The fair student funding program that according to the UFT won't penalize older and highly-paid teachers. Guess again. The DOE is already looking to eliminate that agreement. Furthermore, in anticipation of the fair student funding changes, principals are already trying to hire lower-paid newbie or young teachers.
* The seniority transfer program. The UFT's spin mister Leo Casey in Edwize told everybody that more teachers can transfer because the principals can no longer hide the open positions in the schools. What Leo Casey failed to tell us is that only the younger and lower-paid teachers were being hired under the open market transfer program. The older and highly-paid teachers were being added to the ATR ranks.
* The reduction of ATR's and "rubber room" teachers. The UFT has assured it's ATR's and "rubber room" teachers that she is working on a deal to reduce their ranks in the Fall of 2007. The result? There have been no apparent reduction in either group.

April 29, 2008: Just Say No to ReOpening the Contract, Randi (James Eterno)
EXTRACT: Since it is not April 30, 2009, there is no valid reason why the UFT should consider new Contract negotiations at this time. No mutual agreement should mean no new negotiations.
. . . Furthermore, for the City to even ask for the issue of firing Absent Teacher Reserves to be raised again is a foolhardy move that could easily be considered bad faith. The fact finding panel who made the disastrous recommendations that formed the basis for the punitive 2005 Contract agreed with the UFT on the ATR issue. Here is the actual language: "Fourth, the City/DOE has recommended that an excessed teacher who does not find a new position within 18 months of being excessed be terminated from the system. We specifically reject this proposal." Specifically rejecting a proposal is pretty strong language from arbitrators who obviously favored most of management's giveback demands such as taking away our ability to grieve letters for file, forcing us back in the cafeteria and halls, lengthening the school day and school year, weakening due process, etc.
. . . Even after the Contract expires in 2009, there would be no reason to entertain the city proposal as the Taylor law would keep our existing Contract in place until we have a new one.
. . . Additionally, civil service law would have to be altered and I don't think other unions in New York State would be eager to see a change to allow ATRs to be fired as it would set a horrible precedent.

May 01, 2008: DOE Attacks Teacher Tenure after Causing the ATR Mess (Chaz)
EXTRACT: According to the newspapers the DOE wants to either reopen or add an addendum to the 2007 contract that will allow the DOE to fire ATR's who haven't found a classroom assignment within 12 months. Even Randi Weingarten will never go for this blatant attack on teacher tenure. I believe that a line in the sand has been drawn by the UFT and cannot be crossed and that line is teacher tenure.

May 06, 2008: It's National Teacher Appreciation Day . . . as for the ATR's Job Security Be Afraid, Very Afraid (Chaz)
I was particularly disturbed that in the April 29th New York Sun article that the UFT did negotiate with the DOE on the ATR issue and apparently on the table was an ATR time limit. Thankfully, the negotiations were stalemated and hopefully no further discussions on the ATR time limit will occur. Why did the UFT even consider reopening the contract that would allow Kleinberg a second bite at the apple? That really bothers me and makes me suspicious of the motives of our union leaders. I said this previously and I will say it again. The UFT needs to draw a line in the sand and make sure the DOE cannot step across it without severe consequences.

May 11, 2008: Picking Up Where I Left Off... (UA)
Information for ATRs culled from reports and correspondence (won’t lose their job, u-ratings, per session) and some links to a brouhaha over Tim Daly’s (TNTP) comments about ATRs discussed in a number of blogs:
May 1, 2008: A Manufactured Crisis and an Attempt at a Naked Political Power Play (Leo Casey)
EXTRACT: There is no interest on the part of the DoE in diminishing the pool of unassigned teachers, of finding assignments where good teachers left without an assignment through no fault of their own can return to their life’s work. Rather, there sole interest is to manufacture a crisis which they believe they could use to win the power to fire unassigned teachers.

May 2, 2008: ATRS: How Low Can the DOE Go? (Ron Isaac)
EXTRACT: With all the gory cuts to their instructional programs and school resources imposed by the DOE’s latest round of budget slashing and burning, why would a principal hire a senior teacher instead of two novices for the same price? Therefore the displaced ATRs, among the most experienced and visionary professionals in the system are shut out and shut down. The DOE takes that as evidence that they are inept and unmotivated parasites and should all be given the bums rush. Fire them all, whoops the DOE! That would save the city 81 million dollars. It would also collapse the livelihoods and take food off the table of hundreds of perfectly innocent teachers.

May 5, 2008: Stubborn Facts, Pliable Statistics and the Manufactured Crisis of Excessed Educators (Leo Casey)
Lays out the UFT position: “the “stubborn facts” are that [the DOE has] no interest in solving the problem so long as they believe that they can use it to win the power to fire educators without due process.

May 05, 2008: UFT Officers Agree Not to Reopen the Contract on ATR Issue (James Eterno)
EXTRACT: There is no job security clause in the current 2007-2009 Contract. Article 17F is no longer about job security but instead covers a voluntary buyout for ATRs. The UFT's claim that there is "rock-solid job security" does not hold up under careful scrutiny. To put it another way, would you rather have a clause in a Contract that says you have job security or have the UFT leadership tell you that you have job security?
. . . The next two whereas clauses in the new ATR resolution state that the Department of Education has consistently in bargaining tried to fire the ATRs but they are constantly rebuffed. This is true. The problem is the UFT created this problem by agreeing to patronage hiring and transfers, i.e. the open market. The 2005 Contract ended preferred placement for teachers who are excessed if a school is closed. It also stopped placement in a vacancy if someone is in excess because they were the junior person in a license within a school. The UFT agreed to insert the words "unless a principal denies placement" into the Contract to give principals a veto over any staffing decision. The UFT accepted the "imperial principal" concept for hiring and now they are surprised to find the DOE is pushing strongly to eliminate the last vestiges of the civil service style personnel system: who can be terminated. To put it another way, we gave away the hiring and transfer system so why would anyone be shocked that DOE wants complete control of the firing system too? (Weakened due process fits in here as well but that's another article.)

May 6, 2008: The New Teacher Project Responds (Leo Casey)
He posts the response of Tim Daly (who heads The New Teacher Project) to the blog he had written earlier the same day.

May 6, 2008: More Stubborn Facts: a Response To The New Teacher Project’s Tim Daly (Leo Casey)
EXTRACT: Why have the DoE and TNTP spent the last weeks trumpeting to all who will listen a cost that the author of its own analysis now concurs was misleading?

May 6, 2008: Mayor Mike's Kinfolk Issue a Report (NYC Educator)
Talks a lot about New Teacher Project and their nefarious mission to obfuscate statistics and do the Chancellor’s bidding.

May 7, 2008: Joel Klein Blames Idle Teachers for $4 Gas, Subprime Crisis (Eduwonkette)
Recommends a third party study to address the suspect anaylsis.

May 8, 2008: UFT: Tweed created job barriers for ATRs (Michael Spielman, UFT)
[On the New Teacher Project:] a nonprofit organization that has millions of dollars of contracts with the DOE, runs the city’s Teaching Fellows program and manages Hiring Internal Support Centers for the DOE.

May 8, 2008: The New Teacher Project (Norm Scott)
Slightly tangential, but lists all the people involved in running the NY Teaching Fellows program. Lots of outgoing bucks there.

May 11, 2008: Watch What They Do, Not What They Say… (Leo Casey)
He says that at least one school is posting an ATR position, which just shows to go you how topsy-turvy the world is for ATRs.

May 15, 2008: May D.A. Report (James Eterno)
EXTRACT: Randi said she would not negotiate on firing the ATR’s but she added that it is now a national issue because of Chicago and Klein protégée Michele Rhee who now is running Washington DC schools and trying to fire excessed teachers after schools close. Randi then talked about how Rhee headed the New Teacher Project so she dismissed their report that was recently released that said excessed teachers should be fired after a year.
. . . If I heard correctly, Randi also admitted that she wanted the ATR provision in the Contract because it would end bumping of junior teachers but she claimed she warned Klein that this would happen. She also said that the UFT argued that excessed teachers who want a job should all be hired before new teachers are allowed to be placed. We also heard once again about how the open market system (principals in charge of all hiring with no check on their authority) is wonderful. Bottom line: the Contract is closed. ATR’s can stay in the system as long as they want and not be fired without due process. Let’s move on.

May 16, 2008: The Principal, The Budget, The "Rubber Room", The ATRs, and the 2005 Contract (Chaz)
EXTRACT: The ATRs: The explosion of ATRs in the last couple of years can be laid at the doorstep of the DOE and their policy of encouraging Principals to hire lower-paid and inexperience teachers at the expense of the veteran teacher. The DOE policy of closing schools and excessing these teachers added to the ATR crisis. In fact, the DOE has a new teacher job fair before an ATR job fair is scheduled. The ATR problem has resulted in the UFT to file an age discrimination lawsuit since many of the ATRs are 50 years old or older.
. . . The UFT should stop negotiating with the Kleinberg administration and prepare strategies with the next administration for eliminating the "rubber room" and ATR issues. In addition, the reinstatement of the "Seniority Transfer System" and adjusting the "fair student funding" formula should be a top prority. Finally, I would prepare a hard-hitting media blitz on how the Kleinberg administration has put children last based upon class size , teacher turnover, overcrowded schools, and flat test scores and call it the DOE'S "Children Last Program."

May 17, 2008: ATRs and Other Expunged Teachers: Union-Busting to the Max (
It’s much more than big salaries that the DoE doesn’t want. “If we don't get to keep our senior voices and fighters, it'll be under Weingarten's watch that the union's been busted.”

May 31, 2008: The Open Market System - Are All the Vacancies Being Posted? (Chaz)
EXTRACT: The "Open Market Transfer System" was touted by the UFT spin mister Leo Casey in Edwize last year showing how well it worked in the first year of operation. Of course it was quite obvious that even using Leo's suspect statistics you can see that senior teachers had more trouble transferring than new teachers. In fact, according to Leo Casey's statistics there were 1,202 teachers who transferred with less than five years of experience in 2005 (there were only 31 teachers who transferred in this experience group under the old system) compared to only 163 senior teachers with twenty or more years of experience. Note, this is for 2006, before the "fair student funding" program and the school budget cuts which will further limit senior teachers from changing schools. I would like to see the 2007 statistics Leo, where are they? Did you forget to post them like you did last May? What is even more worrisome is that the UFT knew that senior teachers would have a tough time finding a new school and agreed to it anyway.

June 14, 2008:Senior ATRs and a Long, Hot Summer (
Faults in the Open Market online application system. EXTRACT: The way I see it, there’s only one way for a senior ATR to handle all this. Go online and apply to whatever. Then make yourself a gin-and-tonic, put your feet up, and relax. Nothing will happen with your application. You’ll be subbing back at your old school or somewhere else until you put in for retirement — or until KleinWorld devises another way to push you out of your job.

June 23, 2008: The Experienced Teacher — an Endangered Species (Chaz)
EXTRACT: Tweed's crusade against the experienced teacher is moving full steam ahead as it appears that more teachers will be retiring or resigning from the New York City Public School system than ever before.
. . . Tweed cannot be happier about how their recruitment over retention policy is succeeding beyond expectations. Teachers have to wait to November before they can even get an appointment for a pension consultation. Further, many talented and experienced teachers are now ATRs and many other experienced teachers find themselves in the "rubber room" for minor, frivolous, and false allegations.

July 6, 2008: ATR Links — Part I: What the Union Has to Say (UA)
This is a compilation of some of the many posts, comments, letters, and statements relating to the ATR debacle that have been published on the web in the past year. It's meant to be comprehensive, but not complete.
. . . The links in this first part point to the UFT’s website (www.uft.org), which has ATR info in Know Your Rights posts, Q & A's, bits from the NY Teacher, letters, and messages from Weingarten and other execs. The paragraphs below each link are extracted from the full articles.

July 11, 2008: Who's gonna pay for this year's ATRs? (UA)
DoE memorandum No. 33 FY09 in full showing how ATRs will be funded in the coming school year with some further clarifications in the comments. Interesting sentence in the memo: "Principals are reminded that excessing is not a permissible way to deal with unsatisfactory teachers."

July 11, 2008

Who's gonna pay for this year's ATRs?

Here is DoE memorandum No. 33, FY09, showing how ATRs will be funded in the coming school year. It is available on the DoE website.

Please note the bit in red. If anyone knows whether that is something new and original in DoE thinking, I'd love for you to let everyone know.


DATE: June 18, 2008


FROM: Susan Olds, Executive Budget Director

SUBJECT: ASA for Centrally Funded Excess Staff

For the 2008-2009 school year, Principals will continue to have autonomy when selecting staff to fill vacancies in schools. Consistent with this autonomy, principals will have responsibility for the staff who are in their buildings. For this reason, schools are expected to self-fund excess staff.

In extraordinary circumstances, ASA for Centrally Funded Excess Staff (ASA/ CFES) will be used to fund excess staff when schools meet the criteria described below, which have changed from the current year guidelines. Principals are reminded that excessing is not a permissible way to deal with unsatisfactory teachers [emphasis mine].

Guidelines for Receiving ASA for Centrally Funded Excess Staff Funds
Schools are eligible to receive ASA/CFES only if they meet both of the following thresholds:

Excess Reason Threshold
Schools will be eligible to receive ASA for Centrally Funded Excess Staff for a reduced number of reasons compared with the reasons that were available in Galaxy in school year 2007-2008. Schools will be considered for ASA for Centrally Funded Excess Staff funds only if one of the following excess reasons applies:
Grade Loss: School must experience loss of grade from prior year (this information will be confirmed by the ISC)
Grant Funding: Grant funding is ending or being reduced for reasons the school could not have anticipated;
Mandated IEP position no longer needed: Applies only to Ed Para;
Register Loss: School experiences a register loss of at least five percent when compared to the audited October 30, 2007 register.
Lead Teacher position no longer needed: School elects to discontinue services of lead teacher.

If none of these reasons apply, a school will be expected to fund excess staff using its own funds.

Financial Guidelines:
In addition to complying with the excess reasons stated above, schools will need to demonstrate an inability to self-fund excess staff in order to receive ASA for Centrally Funded Excess Staff. Each school's budget will be considered in its entirety when assessing a school's ability to self-fund. The following guidelines will be used in this assessment:

1. Financial Indicators

Per Pupil OTPS budget not to exceed: $286
Per Pupil Per Session budget not to exceed: $141
• Paid coverage (Per Diem and Prep) budget not to exceed 8 days unless past history
warrants more;
• The availability of excess staff in the school, whether centrally- or school-funded, will be considered as part of the school's resources for absence coverage; and
• F-status teachers only if the job cannot be done within license of excess teacher(s)
• Level of new funding received by the school in 2008-2009.

(Please see Addendum I for a list of allocation categories whose funds comprise the values in the first 3 bullet points above)

2. Scheduled vacancies must be inappropriate for proposed excess staff.

3. Non-teacher scheduled vacancies should support existing school programs only.

4. Any unscheduled balances will be reviewed to determine if they are appropriate to fund proposed excess staff, except that school budgets must also:

• Accommodate returns from leave and sabbatical;
• Accommodate Register Loss Set Aside.

5. Increases in the levels of support staff will be reviewed.

Staff Who Were Funded with ASA CFES in FY 08:

All staff who were funded with ASA CFES in FY 08, including those who were removed from school payrolls to serve in the Absence Teacher Reserve, must be re-evaluated for ASA CFES in school year 2008-2009. Schools will need to demonstrate compliance with the above guidelines before ASA Centrally Funded Excess Staff funds can be provided for these staff.

ASA for Centrally Funded Excess Staff is a loan to schools and is subject to repayment.

The impact of receiving ASA/CFES includes:

1. Schools with ASA/CFES funded staff will be restricted in the amount of ASA register growth they can receive.

2. Schools with ASA/CFES funded staff will still be required to fund the "register loss set aside" if applicable.

3. Schools with ASA/CFES funded staff will need to apply any mid-year adjustment increments to self-fund CFES staff.

4. Schools with ASA/CFES funded staff will be ineligible to participate in the Surplus Rollover Program unless the ASA/CFES is fully repaid.

5. Schools with ASA/CFES funded staff will have vacancies created throughout the school reviewed to determine whether ASA/CFES funded staff can be placed into these vacancies.

6. Schools with ASA/CFES funded staff will have all modifications reviewed to ensure that accruals that become available during the school year are applied to offset ASA/CFES funded staff costs whenever feasible. For example, accruals generated by staff retirement should be used whenever possible to offset ASA/CFES in lieu of other discretionary uses such as additional OTPS purchases. School budgets with ASA/CFES funds will be routinely reviewed to ensure accruals are applied to offset ASA/CFES whenever possible. Misapplication of accruals that could have been applied to reduce ASA/CRES may result in schools losing the privilege of automatic mod approval.

7. Teachers on schools Tables of Organization who are funded with ASA/CFES and who are not selected to fill a regular vacancy by the opening of school may be assigned as a full-time substitute in their school or another school in their district or superintendency, where the need for substitutes is greatest, until they are able to secure a regular position.

• Schools with ASA/CFES funded staff who are assigned as full-time substitutes in their school will have their per diem budgets reduced to help offset the cost these staff.

Please contact your ISC if you have questions regarding this SAM.

Addendum I. Allocation categories included in the calculation of financial criteria:

Allocation Categories
TL Children First Funding / HS
TL Council for Unity
TL Fair Student Funding /HS
TL Fair Student Funding Incremental /HS
TL FSF General Hold Harmless /HS
TL Instructional Programs /HS
TL Mid Year Hold Harmless
TL One-Time Allocations /HS
TL Purchased Svc Revenue School
TL School Operational Support

July 10, 2008

Career choices

Here’s a better 10-week program than TFA to give you a whole bunch of skills for your next real job.

(Picture from the website.)

The 2008 Patriot Corps

campaign branch of the

The 2008 Progressive Patriots Fund

Russ Feingold, Honorary Chair

“We're looking to hire energetic, personable activists that want to make a difference in the 2008 election cycle.”— Senator Russ Feingold

* Work 7 days a week, 12 hours a day
* Housing provided
* Gas costs reimbursed
* Guidance and support provided


“I learned so many valuable skills . . . After working for the Patriot Corps, I was offered a job with the Wisconsin AFL-CIO.

“[The] Patriot Corp program gave me invaluable tools in organizing and running campaigns that have helped me become a successful advocate for progressive candidates!”

“After successfully helping elect Jon Tester to the US Senate . . . I was hired by Democracy for America. I am now the Training Director and oversee one of the largest progressive campaign training organizations in the country.”

Seriously, folks. When I think of what best thing people can do with their lives, I keep coming back to:


July 9, 2008

Some see it in black and white

Note: Additional paragraphs added at the end after reading Norm's post this morning over at Ednotes.

I got an email yesterday that sent shivers up my spine, about a class action lawsuit filed in Washington a couple of weeks ago against the DC police.

The Partnership for Civil Justice wanted an injunction against a checkpoint program set up to “seal off neighborhoods” in the
predominantly African-American Trinidad section of the city.

You're pulling my leg, you say.

No, I’m not. The Washington Post describes it this way:
. . . the police stop and interrogate drivers about their activities and associations, requiring motorists to provide identification and a "legitimate" reason for driving on the public roadways, including giving the identity and phone numbers of friends and family. The lawsuit asserts that the roadblock program is an unconstitutional suspicionless seizure of persons traveling on public roadways in the District of Columbia. The lawsuit also challenges the District’s use of these mass civil rights violations to collect and aggregate data on the movements, activities and associations of law abiding residents and visitors to the District and seeks expungement of this information.

The checkpoints are an extraordinary expansion of police power to stop, seize and interrogate individuals without any probable cause or suspicion of illegal activity. They are also ineffective at stopping crime.

This country is going in the wrong direction really fast.

It's starting to be very obvious that when governments don’t have a clue how to turn things around nor the political will to even try, their answer is always one of two things: ROPE 'M OFF and circle the wagons, or ROPE 'M OFF and make a profit.

Checkpoints, gated communities, the fences around City Hall, blockades that kept protesters two blocks away from the last Republican convention are all examples of the first. That's when some people perceive other people as a threat and restrict access to places.

The other kind is like New Orleans after Katrina, when a newly created “authority” is set up that can use eminent domain to seize homes with a view to selling off the property to the fat cats. It’s also like Teach for America, which takes tax money to put teacher trainees into poorer neighborhoods and allow them to make guinea pigs of kids whose parents have been distinctly unempowered in big cities like New York. They come in waves, these trainees, TFAs don’t stay long in the job. Rotate!

I don’t like what I’m seeing, and what I’m seeing has to do with color. We’re going backwards.

Groups like the NY Collective of Radical Teachers (NYCoRE) and the Independent Commission on Public Education (ICOPE ) have been focusing on social issues like discrimination for years. Teacher activists like Sean Ahern don't brook any ignorance of the subject and do what they can to keep us informed. Contributing mostly to a restricted listerv, Ahern's been railing against the whitening of the teacher staff in NYC schools for years.

One of the things he put up this past week had to do with NYC’s hiring practices under mayoral control and the effect of the current certification process. He thinks these have resulted in a “a significantly lower number of teachers of color in the NYC schools” and constitute a reversal of the incremental increases seen in the past 30 years.

To make his point, he refers to a 2006 interview that Teachers Unite had with educator Sam Anderson:

TU: How have the demographics of New York City's public school population, among teachers and students, changed since you've been involved in education?

SA: Over the past 40 years New York City's public schools have gone from being comprised of predominantly white students to one that is now predominantly Black, Latino and Asian students. However, when we look at the racial breakdown of the teaching and administrative staff, they are still overwhelmingly white to the point that nearly 80% of the teachers are white. All we have to do is look at the Department of Education's own data. More specifically, when we look at the sixteen year record of the racial breakdown of new hires, we see the re-enforcement of white teacher dominance clearly built into the DOE's personnel structure.
Anderson claims it wasn’t easy to come by the data, but he got it and posted it, and it shows that today’s DoE new hires are “more skewed towards white teachers than 10 years ago.” He has things to say about how the racial makeup of the teacher population affects non-white students, this for example:
. . . It is the normalcy of racism that we are trying to neutralize as well as, therefore, the normalcy of internalizing self-hating racist ideas about ones self. Well-trained teachers of color working with children of color with a curriculum that also includes their culture, their people's contribution to the development of the world have proven that they can boost the intellectual quality of children of color . . .

The current Bloomberg-Klein approach to teacher recruitment is to hire "far and white." That is, go outside of New York City and emphasize recruiting white teachers over Black/Latino teachers. They have spent tens of millions of dollars making teaching in NYC schools a palatable and hip thing for white folks to do.

We know this to be the case by just looking at the stats of new hires during Bloomberg's reign: from 61% up to 65% for white new hires while Black new hires went from 20.1% down to 14.1%... while the student population increased to be well over 85% students of color! This can only be called negative affirmative action (or affirmative action for mainly white women...who constitute the bulk of new hires).
Anderson’s own plan for teacher recruitment makes a lot of sense to me. He wants the DoE to set up “a structure that encourages Black/Latino community folk to return to school and train them to become teachers.”

He's saying train them to become teachers, not transients.

In referring to Anderson’s article, Ahern suggests the UFT has been particularly silent on the “disappearing” of teachers of color. Many left when Bloomberg purged 3,000 uncertified members in 2003, much as Rhee is doing in Washington now. Ahern had written to Weingarten back in October 2004 asking her to negotiate “an affirmative action plan to increase the % of Black, Latino and Asian teachers into the new contract:
Figures from Eva Moskowitz's office (attached) document a 7.8% decline in the number of Black educators hired in August/September 2002. This is an abrupt and dramatic reversal of the pattern of previous years. I have not been able to obtain the breakdown of new hires for 2003 and 2004 but the dismissal of thousands of uncertified teachers, disproportionately educators of color in September 2003 suggests that a whitening/racial purge of the teaching ranks is proceeding apace under mayoral control.

I don't want to take a position at this point whether these teachers should or should not have been let go, but it is obvious that school after school are as we speak being filled up with teacher recruits who are also not certified — and sometimes won’t be for the full length of their teacher service. These recruits are predominantly white. To Weingarten, he urges fervently that:
As UFT President, NYSUT Vice President and leader of NYC's municipal workers you have the platform from which to challenge this corporate/Republican and white supremacist agenda that stretches from City Hall, to Albany, to the White House and weighs so heavily down upon teachers, students, their families and communities.
I go to most of the Delegate Assemblies, and I’m not hearing much of anything from her or anyone else at the union on this issue.

In another post, Ahern talks about an abstract of a paper put out by ACORN in 1996 called Secret Apartheid: a Report on Racial Discrimination against Black and Latino Parents and Children in the New York City Public Schools. The group reported evidence of “institutionalized racism” in the system, and says that it “is not concerned with why this discrimination exists . . . [but] the ways in which it closes off options for students.”

It's clear that kids have even fewer options these days than they did in 1996. What they have is more brutal cutbacks in services (vocational programs, the arts, special ed services, alternative schools, etc.), large classes, new mini-schools that offer few courses, and athletic fields on public land through no-bid contracts and without a review process.

Circle the wagons and make some money.

The last item in these Ahern posts points to an article by Andy Humm in the Gotham Gazette last January on an Urban Justice report that “documents how even in multicultural New York, we have a long, long way to go before race no longer matters.”

The Center wants to “go beyond protecting individuals who can prove they have been illegally discriminated against and move toward remedying systemic discrimination.”
Most people think that overt racism is a thing of the past or, at worst, an isolated problem — especially when an African American named Barack Obama could very well become the next president of the United States.

But evidence to the contrary persists. Just ask yourself who is homeless in New York, who the beggars are on the street and who does the lowest wage and hardest jobs from checking your groceries and emptying bedpans to cleaning your office.

To that list we can add a few questions of our own:
Who are the recruits they’re putting into our schools, and who are the ones they're letting get away?

The kids need some changes here, and in a very moral sense, so do we all.


Norm just wrote a blog entitled, rhetorically, "Is the NYC Parks Department racist?" This extract alone should get your blood running.

For the past two weekends the beachfront at Beach 25th Street in the Rockaways has had well over 500 people each day, and no lifeguard at all during the week. This beach is adjacent to one of the largest populations of people on the peninsula, exceeding 25,000 residents and yet there is only 1 lifeguard stand for miles of public waterfront all the way to Beach 74th.

This seems extremely unjust given the fact that areas on the far western end of the Peninsula like Neponsit, have more than 21 lifeguards; 7 stands, 100 yards apart for less than 2,000 residents in an area with no public boardwalk, parking by permit only, and no access to public transit. This would seem to be a “private beach” paid for with public resources that are required to serve seven miles of public waterfront.

And here's another rhetorical question: