October 25, 2008

Weingarten, what's going on???

Weingarten's Oct. 23rd statement on Bloomberg's third-term coup is posted here, but I refer you there at your own risk, because two lines will make you quite ill:
Weingarten 1:
"We deeply respect people on both sides of this issue."

Weingarten 2:
"Ultimately, we all share the same goal: to protect and enhance the quality of education in this City."

Just how deep is your respect, Randi, for these racketeers, unionbusters, profligate financial institutions, and real estate people restructuring and selling out our city? You respect them deeply? The Council members who caved on this issue? The BloomKlein non-educators who have run this system into the ground?

Don't you dare imply that these people have the same goals for our kids and our union as we do.

No thanks to you and your collaborative caucus members, we'll now have to suffer another miserable term under a billionaire's impoverished ethical standards. Which means we'll be working for a whole army of devious, manipulative and nasty corporate administrators trained up by his generals and installed in our schools until kingdom come.

Weingarten: If you do think we have the same goals as them, you're not the right president for our union.

Step down.

For everyone else:

You can sign this Petition against our imposter "Education mayor" running for a 3rd term.

October 21, 2008


Here's something that'll shake-ya up a bit.

Software engineer Bo Lipari, founder of New Yorkers for Verified Voting and an adviser to the NYS Board of Elections, wrote in one of his recent blog posts about the 2002 Help American Vote Act.

That piece of legislation not only deals with voting equipment, but requires "substantial changes to the way voter registration lists are managed, requiring that all states maintain a single statewide database, and that voter registration records by purged of incorrect records."

In response to a question from one of his readers, Lipari FOILed the state's voter registration database then designed some software to analyze the 12,010,045 voter records they sent him
(details here).

We may be living in a very blue state here in New York, but it seems a whole bunch of would-be voters will turning rage red when they won't get a chance to vote this time round. That's because, according to Lipari:
Depending on how database name matching is done, this can result in many legally registered voters being removed from the rolls or set to “Inactive” status, which means on Election Day their names will not be in the poll book, and they will not be able to vote.
Just how many New Yorkers will not be able to vote?

The Board has apparently moved 1,661,244 of these voter records off the "Active" lists and into "Purged" and "Inactive" ones. That's a 14% chunk of our fellow citizens who won't be pulling any levers down any time soon.

Lipari says he can't judge the validity of these changes, but he's wagering that a "significant number" of them are not. One of the patterns he's noticed is that here in NYC, the Board of Elections has made more than half a million people "Inactive" because they did not "
respond to a letter from the Board saying they intended to cancel their registration (NYSVOTER lists this reason as MAIL CHECK)." Lipari guarantees that "some percentage, likely very large, of these New York City voters are legally registered who never saw the Board’s letter. They’re going to show up on Election Day and be turned away from the polls."

The six counties that have done the most purging include our very own Westchester, rolling in at a very scary 21%.

Lipari says there's only one way to know for sure what's going on with your voter status:
Call your County Board of Elections and ask if you are registered to vote, if your status is “Active”, and if your name will appear in the poll books on Election Day. If it is not, there is still time, although not much, to correct the error.
To help you through this mess without schlepping over to the Board, you can start with the links over at his post: "Are you registered to vote? Really?" At least check out the Voter Registration Page, and see whether the state believes you are alive and legitimate (LOL).

PS:  If you want jump in on this, the ACLU wants you to as well. They've just sent around the email below, which contains a link to their letter of protest. You can sign onto it, if you want to. 
We are on the eve of one of the most historic elections of our time. And the last thing America needs right now is another election that leaves us uncertain of its legitimacy.

Unfortunately, there are enough shenanigans going on to raise serious concerns.

The biggest of them all:  Attorney Gen. Mukasey and the Dept. of Justice are walking away from their sacred responsibility to guarantee smooth and fair elections.

While the government is engaged in a highly-publicized attempt to raise the specter of voter fraud against groups who have been working hard to register poor and minority voters, DOJ is doing little — if anything — to deal with the problem — hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of registered voters who many turn up on Election Day just to be turned away.

I just asked the DOJ to take decisive action before Election Day to protect the right to vote for everyone. You can do the same here:

Election officials should concentrate their limit resources on expanding access to the ballot box and protecting voters. Demand that the DOJ act to protect voting rights.


October 13, 2008

A shout out to TAGNYC

Here's what this important advocacy group has to say to Weingarten and the Unity caucus, and boy, do I agree with it.

If you ever get a chance to hear some of these people speak — like at Klein's PEP sessions (sample video here) — you'll find out how articulate some teachers are and how committed they are to their profession and their colleagues.

TAG's 11 questions to Weingarten were posted on Ednotes in April of last year, and none have been answered, only exacerbated. You can read them in full over there, but in short, they had to do with:
1. Not educating the membership,
2. Fearing for the careers of senior teaches,
3. No attempt to rally,
4. Stalling til 2009,
5. Not railing against the 3020-a process,
6. Not talking about frivolous charges more publicly,
7. Not protesting the absurdity of turning senior teachers into ATRs,
8. Not protesting the willful destruction of careers by unethical people,
9. Weak UFT support at district offices,
10. Not advocating for students when their teachers are being hounded out of the system,
11. Not protecting competent teachers during the "tough Bloomberg-Klein times."
They're rallying again with other protesters:
ATR Urgent Campaign

Gather outside the UFT Delegate Assembly
Wed., Oct. 15, starting at 3:30

Please join us outside and stay for the D.A. if you can. We'll be there with press packets, petitions, fact sheets -- we need to get out the ATRs real story.

We're calling on the UFT to hold a rally in front of the Department of Education and demand all ATRs who want positions be placed before any new teachers are hired. We also need to advocate for teaching fellows who have been told they will be "terminated" if they are not placed in positions by December.
NYC Educator put up another flier that will be handed out at the DA called "The Real Facts about ATRs". I mean, how much more testimony do you need?

If anyone doesn't see BloomKlein's locomotive coming after you, better wake up. It's big, ugly, and very, very nasty.

October 9, 2008

One question

Would you use your own children as political small change?

Cindy McCain would. Press HERE.

and so would Sarah Palin. Press HERE.:

Dontcha just love those six-pack moms?

Bottom up!

Just to let you know before you get on with reading this that more of the same theme is going on over at Ednotes, particularly his Oct. 24th post.

I wish everyone would start talking this issue up. Cognizance leads to Change.

A comment I wrote over on the ICE blog ties in with AVoiceIn's Oct. 8th post at Chancellor's, so here's a bit of both.

AVoiceIn worries about Weingarten's re-alignment with some very dark forces in our city, Klein and Bloomberg:

"Like other union members, I’ve watched with some shock, distaste and frustration as Weingarten seemed to lose focus of what she was supposed to be doing. As teachers find themselves fighting against a depressing tide of abuse, blame, and discredit, Weingarten has seemed oddly quiet. . . . Well, call me crazy, but if you were the president of such a massive union, wouldn’t you then make it a point to turn the ant-union sentiment around? Wouldn’t that sort of be a part of what you were being paid to do?

That Weingarten has recently "seemed to lose focus" is certainly what it looks like.

The way I see it, she's gotten herself all caught up in some positions she'll never back off from, like calling for "collaboration" with administrators, accepting merit pay (by any other name blah-blah-blah...) and charter schools (they're not really charter schools if the union runs them), using test marks for evaluations (but shhhh, don't tell anyone), stifling oppositional voices in so many ways she could write a book on the subject, allowing non-differentiated staff development (because what the heck, it really doesn't matter how those teachers spend their time, they're getting paid, aren't they?), and making sure the threat of withholding labor remains anemic (that one really pisses me off).

Each one of these cuts at core union principles. But, here's where I'm taking this:

Forget top-down union management, that era's over. Fully certified rank-and-file members are going to have to get their gear on and go build union back up, inside each school and particularly where it's not happening at all. They'll have to educate, communicate, organize, and hold to contract for themselves. There is simply no other way.

That's because Weingarten hawks her leadership and her "brand" every time she gets a chance — at new teacher initiation conferences, opening delegate assemblies, and forays into the schools. It's clear she wants a good chunk of her union to be as inexperienced and maniputable as Klein does. She needs these new teachers to believe everything she says, writes, pushes for, or doesn't act on is the "best that union can buy." Recruits don't know the enormity of the givebacks or the politics. Only the vets do, and it's the vets she's been abandoning.

In answer to an anon. 11:57 pm over at the ICE blog: "Will people vote against them in the next election?"

It's hard to tell if Weingarten's already abdicated or just playing footsie under the table with the educrats we despise. But there's no way to wrest votes from her without tenured teachers doing the real work of labor unionism, taking on time-consuming tasks and toughening up union positions from within.

And if you aren't willing to do this work, even in a small way, you forfeit the right to moan. Weingarten's not listening anyway, and the activists can't do it without you.

I mean it: This work goes from the bottom up.

October 1, 2008

Get out your reading glasses

I think people should know more about the lawsuit in the works against the DoE and Joel Klein, personally and in his capacity as chancellor.

Everyone who reads this blog regularly will know why I’m writing about this, but I’m happy to repeat it:

Kleinworld’s assaults on teachers’ careers, due process, the contract and various civil codes have gone too far. Some people are stepping up to the plate.

On Aug. 8th, Joy Hochstadt filed a petition in State court seeking the overturn of 3020-a decision she received on the grounds that she was denied due process. In fact, the law itself may deny due process.

In the incompetence cases she has witnessed, Hochstadt can document an orchestrated and partially fabricated judicial procedure lasting more than a couple of years that has barred certain witnesses and denied prior observation reports.

Hearing records (those are the transcripts of the voice tapes) have been edited before being transmitted to the teachers. Too many people who have gone through the process, she says, remember things differently from what's in the final transcripts, and they have notes to contradict them. But the sheer volume of these documents makes it impossible to identify, much less rebut the changes in the short period allowed to respond, just 10 days. People have to match all their notes and all the Court's rulings with the thousands of pages of written record.

Hochstadt wants the judge to strike the entire law (3020-a), which means that there'd be no way to discipline a tenured teacher until the legislature sat down and drafted a new one. Teachers must be part of this re-drafting, to ensure fairness in the selection of arbitrators (the DoE and the respondent would each choose one, and these together would select a third) and that all parts of just cause get proved, not just the trivial specifications that the present law calls for. In other words, you’d have to prove:
— That the conduct was had to be shown to be disruptive or dangerous to the operation of schools;

— That the employee had been warned not to repeat the behavior (unless the offense was criminal, quasi-criminal or shocking to most people),

— That the entire faculty was treated equally for similar infractions,

— That the fine or other penalty was in line with other arbitrator-awards in similar circumstances,

— That the punishment was not too harsh for the infraction,

— That trivial subjective complaints could not be included,

Hochstadt would add three additional stipulations:
— That the school was in compliance with all regulations related to the charges (e.g., no incompetence charges could stem from observations in out-of-license or oversized classes),

— That the charges could only be proved by a standard of clear and convincing evidence, not just a preponderance of it, or that attorney-advocates had to go to Court if intervening rulings against the respondent were biased, and

— That before a U could be issued or a charge of incompetence be leveled, peer reviewers observations were made and made part of the record or file. Failing this, the 10 day statute of limitations in the law could be stricken, in which case it would be like any other arbitral award with 90 days to file.

To say this makes a whole lot of sense is an understatement, and I can’t for the life of me see why our union management hasn’t already taken steps to counteract this judicial aggression against the members — unless, Weingarten wants to make sure her collaboration in getting rid of teachers remains codified in law.

Here is more of Hochstadt’s thinking, in her own words:
Each proceeding requests something from the Court called “relief.” What I am asking for is to set aside or vacate the decision (the “arbitral award”) of the arbitrator.

I must make the legal case that the Court should do that based on what other Courts have said and done in similar circumstances for each fact I allege in my case. So far I have presented only alleged facts and a number of laws I believe were violated, but have not cited cases and rulings in other cases to prove my points. Relevant to the 3020-a charges are these questions:
Was 3020-a as enacted followed or violated?

Was the "Just Cause" standard as long used in employment decisions used appropriately?

Did the arbitrator show bias against me?

Was the arbitrator corrupt?

Did the arbitrator exceed her powers?

Did the arbitrator or counsel violate my rights to equal protection of the laws or due process vis-a-vis other teachers? As the actors are state employees, the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution protects me from denial of equal protection of law and denial of due process.
To answer these questions legally, I must use the facts I alleged in the petition to analyze how they would have been treated using the reasoning of the judicial decisions of other cases applying the law and the prior reasoning to my facts [editorial remark: don't be ashamed if you have to read that sentence again]. Therefore, I cite cases where the law was applied to similar facts in a way I'd like them to be applied to my facts. I also distinguish those facts from my facts (i.e., show how it is not a comparable situation) when another court reached a judgment on a point that goes contrary to the way I'd like the Court to view my own facts.

I expect to cite (i.e., give the name of the case and the place it can be found — Court, volume and page) for dozens, if not 100 or more cases in my memo of law to guide the Court as how the law should be applied. A trial Court must apply the law the way its own appellate and highest Court of Review has ruled. (It is optional but persuasive to apply the rulings of Courts in other appellate divisions or states.)

Also, when petitioners are pro se (without an attorney) the memorandum of law is optional. The court attorneys are supposed to do this for you. But arguing the law is just like a debate: each person must be versed in all the precedents and then best use those facts to persuade. Each pro se should research his case and write a first-rate memo of law to support his case if they hope to win. Each court has a library to use and librarians to help.

(Joy Hochstadt can be reached at her office, 300 Central Park West, New York, NY 10021. Tel. 212/580-9930. Email: joy.hochstadt.pc@gmail.com)

Don't you find this interesting? Pertinent? Thorough?

Even if you answered yes, it's time for a drink.