Thursday, March 29, 2007

A mommy brag

Remember my older guy the one that I spoke about here. The one who had no confidence since he was screwed by the system?
Well I am happy and proud to say that his student advisor at his University asked him to run for Student Government President!!!
Small class size does not work. Give me a break.
But Kleinberg do know it works, since their children were not educated in the Public system. If they were I am sure the rest of the 1.1 million children would not be receiving the education that they are today.

A letter from Professors asking for small class size

Thank you to the following Professors that signed their names to this letter.

Dear Governor Spitzer and members of the State Legislature:

As professors of education, we are writing to strongly recommend that a significant portion of the additional funds that New York City public schools are due to receive be devoted to lowering class size in all grades. No teacher, no matter how skilled or well prepared, can be as effective in the large classes that exist in most of our city’s public schools. New York City classrooms are in fact larger than those in suburban and rural school districts across New York State. Yet, New York City students, are more likely to be English Language Learners and/or living in poverty and thus require more individual attention and help from their teachers than average students in the rest of the state. The systemic disadvantage of being placed in classes of 28 students or more cannot be overcome through even the most sophisticated teacher education and professional development.

Though schools in high-poverty neighborhoods need smaller classes than most other schools, every New York City public school should benefit from class sizes as small as those that currently exist throughout the rest of the state. The research on class size is quite convincing and demonstrates that students learn more in smaller (17 or less) and medium size classes (24 or less) than in larger classes (25 or more). Reducing class sizes is also correlated with a reduction in referral rates to special education.[1] As shown in the Chancellor’s District, the implementation of smaller classes is likely to lead, over time, to a much lower number of such referrals; which is, of course, a significant source of both cost savings, and substantially improved outcomes for students.

Smaller classes throughout the system and in all grades are also necessary to ensure the successful inclusion of children with disabilities into general education classrooms, which is, of course, a key point in IDEA. Finally, over time, smaller classes are likely to lead to higher quality teaching in two important ways: First, all teachers are more effective in smaller classes, no matter what their skill, teacher preparation, or experience level. In addition, class size reduction will likely lead to lower teacher attrition rates, which in New York City are twice as high as elsewhere in the state. Teachers consistently cite large class sizes as a key impediment to their effectiveness and student learning outcome studies back this up.

We believe strongly that more equitable outcomes depend on more equity in opportunity. There is no better way to achieve this goal, and improve teaching and learning in our public schools, than to invest a significant portion of these additional funds to lower class size.


Jacqueline Ancess, Ed.D., Co-Director, NCREST, Teachers College
Chuck Achilles, Ph.D., Seton Hall
Lee Ann Bell, Ed.D., Director, Barnard Education Program
David Bloomfield, Program Head, Educational Leadership, Brooklyn College, CUNY
Martin Blum, Assistant Dean, Hofstra University
Judith M. Burton, Professor and Director of Art and Art Education
James Corter, Associate Professor, Teachers College
Dr. Jeremy D. Finn, Professor of Education, State University of New York at Buffalo
Doris Fromberg, Ed.D., Director, Early Childhood Teacher Education, Hofstra University
William Gaudelli, Associate Professor, Teachers College
A. Lin Goodwin, Professor and Associate Dean, Teachers College
Barbara Hawkins, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Teachers College
Barbara Hruska, Assistant Professor, Teachers College
Judith Kaufman, Ph.D., Department Chair, Curriculum and Instruction, Hofstra University
Nancy Lesko, Professor, Teachers College
Maureen Miletta, Ed.D., Associate Professor, Hofstra University
Janet Miller, Professor, Teachers College
Celia Oyler, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Teachers College, Columbia University
Diane Ravitch, New York University
Susan Recchia, Associate Professor of Education, Teachers College
Luis O. Reyes, Ph.D., Visiting Fellow, Bronx Institute, Lehman College
Cathy Rikhye, Ed.D, Teachers College
Susan Reimer Sacks, Professor, Barnard College
Spencer Salend, Professor, SUNY New Paltz
Nancy Schniedewind, Professor, SUNY New Paltz
Jacqueline Shannon, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Brooklyn College
Alan Singer, Ph.D., Professor of Curriculum and Teaching, Hofstra University
Robin M. Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Special Education, SUNY New Paltz
Dr. Susan Goetz Zwirn, Graduate Director, Hofstra University

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Blame Game

Little Johnny can't read. His class size is 35. The parent's blame the teacher, the teacher blames the parent, the press blames the UFT.
Little Jane misses 28 days of school and guidance calls to inform parent. Parent asks why are you waiting until the number reaches 28, Guidance says well we don't do the numbers the DOE told us to call you. We are a large school after all.
EXCUSES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Are unacceptable.
I know that small class size is never going to be made a reality as Klein and Bloomberg don't see it as a viable solution. It is the only solution. 35 children in a class can not be broken down into small groups to help children lagging behind. These children are also not receiving any resource room help or reading help so they fall through the cracks.
The great excuse is we can't hire enough experienced teachers, but is alright to
get rid of the experienced teachers we already have.
We don't have enough room, but we don't add any more money to the capital budget for new space.
We can though, build some new high rises in a neighborhood where schools are already over capacity. If we can do that then maybe we should also make the developer responsible for building a new school instead of giving them tremendous tax breaks to build said building.
Lets all get on the same page and stop blaming each other and lets come up with a solution to make education work.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

No contract

Chancellor Klein does not have a contract. Read this and it shows you the sheer arrogance of this administration.
I have signed longer permission trip slips for my wee ones elementary school trips then the Chancellor's (or as I will now refer to as Mr. Klein), so called contract. He steers the ship of the largest education system in this country with no contract. Makes it kind of hard to hold him accountable for his actions when there is no wording in the letter, it is a letter after all.

Children Last

I had some free time today so I decided to sit down and get into the wording of the Fair Student Funding.
You can find your copy here I like to read agenda's before I scream about them. Makes it look like I am semi-informed and when someone questions me I don't look like a fool. You know like Klein and Bloomberg are. Excuse me for calling them fools, but, if the big clown shoe fits you should put it on.
So lets start:
1) The closet to the children should get to make key decisions about what will best help students succeed.

Oooh Ooohhh (raising hand and waving) would that be the parent? Would it, would it? Because who is closet to the child? Not the Principal. I can't see how a Principal in a school of say 2,000 students can know the need of every single child.

Is "transparent" the new it word?
I have been hearing this word bandied about a lot lately.
On the radio, on the news and now in this line
2) Our schools should be able to count on funds that are fair and transparent.

Well that is unless your child is a high performing school and then you will be penalized for your children being smart.
Or Johnnie is leaving the school so you are now $17,000 short so you must cut out the toilet paper purchase you had planned for next week.

3) New York City's current school funding is complex.

Not as complex as you are going to make this new "Fair Funding"
Klein and Bloomberg are businessmen.
New York City schools are not a business
and our Principals are not accountants, or will the have the funding to hire one.
This is a gigantic disaster in the making.

The next word after complex was unfair.
I agree this plan is UNFAIR.
Unfair that our Principals have only a month to come up with an outside support system.
Who has the time to do that when they have to crack the whip to make sure that the children achieve highly on the next test.

Lets skip a few pages because I am starting to get a gigantic migraine trying to read all this gobbly gook.

Expert consultants:
Not one, not one single expert consultant comes from New York.
One is from Canada. Canada? Are you bleeping kidding me?
I am not saying that Canada does not have a decent educational system but are you trying to tell me that in a city as large as this with some fine Instutions of Higher Learning that you could not get one single person that you could have asked to be an expert consultant?
I hope that I am wrong and that you only listed a few of your consultants.
Please someone tell me I am wrong.

Which brings me back to Alzarez and Marsal. Those fine folks that bankrupted a school system, (Saint Louis) and now that state had to take it over.
I hope the same does not happen here.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

What is new in the my world

I started to reply to the comments in my last post when I figured it was long and should have its own post so here we go.
Parents in my wee ones elementary school are running around in all a titter, scared have you about the Chancellor's new reforms. Why? The PTA put out an little pamphlet and handed it out at the parent teacher conferences saying you must read it. But I have a big mouth and said oh why is this so small and the reforms are so large? I got a blank stare.
Now the Parents will speak up because this impacts them and their school. It has to be monumental for them to speak because they know at all other times they are not heard. Now they are running scared but what they fail to grasp is that they need to be vocal all the time not once in a while. Because if they would just open up there mouths all the time the state of education would not be where it is today.

Which brings me to another story.
Last week. sometime before the snow, the Parent Coordinator was standing in front of the school. She was speaking to some parents, one I wanted to speak to because I have not seen her in a while. The Parent coordinator said that only 30 children have registered for kindergarten, and I say oh great one large class. She says to me like it is fact, oh that will never happen. I said sure, go tell that to someone that does not know the DOE forwards and backwards and this school never ever had a large kindergarten class. Why don't you go back inside and ask Ms. Stuffed Shirt about Mrs. Pissed Offs sons kindergarten class of 36. Whereas she turned away and walked into the school. I walked away muttering.

What to my wondering eyes do I see in this pamphlet (like I did not already know this) We might lose our seasoned teachers and class size will grow.
Parent coordinator must wonder how I knew this since she never sees me at a PTA meeting or in the school.
Umm maybe because I don't rely on people that are not going to give me the facts to give me the facts.

Have a wonderful day I am off to my real job which also lets me be snarky.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


to the parents who last night disrupted the Panel for Education meeting. A big applause from me. I just wish more parents would take your lead and not be afraid to let their voices be heard as well.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Parent's love charter schools

or so says today's Daily News Opine. Supposedly we love charter schools because we apply to them in droves. Yes parents do apply to charter schools.
The same parents that are desperate for their children to have some sort of decent education because they can not afford a private one. This goes back to unfair funding, shortage of teachers, large class sizes but you have read this here before. I hate to sound redundant.
It also has a lot to do with No Child Left Behind. Every child is left behind with this government mandate. As it is good in theory it stinks otherwise. Another reform without the money to back it.
I have seen the results of transfers from NCLB in our elementary school. The children are moved over, the are in need of services. The schools support team is already over taxed but they need to take in the 4 children, Georgie said so. So once again the children are short changed because now the resource room teacher has additional children in the room and the small class that she was supposed to have has now turned into just another classroom where the children are not getting the support they need.
Lets try to find an incentive to attract teachers into the system instead of making them run to the suburbs. Then the other chips will fall into place.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Three Card Monty with the children

The list of SURR schools decreased this year. That is good, but what is bad
4 that were formally on the list are now on the list again. That is such a big surprise. Obviously all that was done was close the school and reopen it with no thought on how to improve things.
That is like my mother calling me to tell me she is coming over to visit me and my house is a mess. I take all my dirty items and stow them in a closet
just so she can not see it. Viola house clean no mess looks like I am doing a fantastic job, when the rest of the habitants of my house know I am a fraud.

Community Education Councils struggle

to attract parents. Hmmmmm, I wonder can it be, that it is because they are just window dressing? People are disillusioned. It is the same old same old.
With our children once again being experimented on. If we (parents) thought for one moment that we can be taken seriously we would then be more than happy join your panels. In the meantime start telling us the truth. We don't know what we are doing so we decided that we will test your children to the point where they hate going to school but by then
maybe we will have it all figured out and make learning the experience it should be.
For goodness sake my 6 year old first grader yesterday mentioned the E-class to me. He said so and so only got one word wrong he is so smart. I only got 10 wrong. I am not making his up but I wish I was.
My child should be excited that he knew all the words not that they were going to be measured against other children. He said but so and so only knew a few words.
Why don't you go put that in your bleeping 80 million dollar computer and choke on it. One thing that computer is not going to be able to tell me is what type of stress this is putting on my 6 year old. After all it is just a machine the same as what you think my 6 year old is.

Hello, Mrs. Pissed Off

Hello, Is your mother at home?
me: no, she has her own home would you like her number? (This happens to me each and every time someone wants to speak to an adult, seems I have a child like voice, but that is my one and only child like quality.)
Oh Mrs. Pissed Off, this is Mr. Math teacher at overcrowded high school.
I am your middle sons teacher.
me: Yes, can I help you?
Math: Well it seems your son has been wearing a small cast and said that he sprained his wrist.
me: Yes, he did
Math: oh, Well I did not see a doctor's note so I thought he was fooling around.
me: are you kidding me? Has he been doing his work?
math: well, yes but you know I had to make sure that he indeed sprained his wrist because you know some kids make up excuses to get out of work.
me: So, lets see. You just told me he is doing his work but you had to make sure because SOME kids make up excuses. Has middle one been making up excuses?
Math: he has not handed in a few math homework assignments.
me: How many?
Math: 3 but, he wants to type his homework assignments and I don't allow that.
me: Can you not give the kid a break and let him until he can at least write legibly?
math: well if I let one...................
me: So lets get this correct. My child wants to do the work but you won't allow him to just type his assignments for a few days, because he does not have a doctor's note. How about you let me do the work for him this way it is done and handed in or would that not work either because it would not be in his handwriting? Because this is what we are getting at correct. That you would have no way of knowing if he is doing the work or not. Is that the gist of it.
Math: now calm down Mrs. Pissed Off.
me: why does everyone tell me to calm down?
I do appreciate the phone call it shows to me that you at least care for my child to make the phone call, most teachers would not.
math: well if I can have a doctor's note.
me: okay I will get right on that.

I hang up the phone go into middle child's room read him the riot act and tell him to get on the ball and do his damn math homework and I don't care if it looks like it was written by a lab rat and next time he had better come to me and tell me what the hell is going on, so I can get a freaking doctors note.

disclaimer: don't leave me any nasty comments because after all I am on the teachers side.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Out of the mouth of babes

I picked wee one up after school after him being out for a day with a stomach virus. He had a substitute. I asked him if was given the homework and he said no but that he wished he did not have a substitute because his work was to easy today and he needed to have Miss Lovely so he can have harder work.. Oh my, can it be a child that wants to be educated? Someone has to remind Mrs. Pissed Off to thank Miss Lovely for making the work to hard and making my child reach for the stars.
On another note he was reading to me and I had to give my 6 year old a big high five for knowing the words Constellation and Astronomy, and the true meanings of said words.

I am a Professional Parent

The day my first child was born I like every parent wanted what was best for him. Three years later my second child was born and of course I wanted what was best for him also.
I sent my children to public schools because I believe that the system can work if guided properly. It is not, and that is when I wanted my voice to be heard. For my children since they could not really speak for themselves.
I provide for my children in more ways than can be counted.
We are fortunate to live in the "Elite" District our children should receive an exemplar education, but Elite is in a just another word.
The DOE has asked parents to get involved with their children's education.
They ask us to chair the PTA, to be on the School Leadership Teams, attend CPAC etc. But they also want us to be quiet and not make to much noise.
If the system is broke it is up to us to let the DOE know what is wrong. They are not the people who are in the trenches. They are not "Educated"
as to what is happening on a daily basis. It is us the Parents and the teachers that know what is going on and as long as I breathe and have a child in the Public Education system, I will never be quiet.
I guess that is what makes me a Professional Parent.

Sit down and shut up Part 2

Here we go again with dismissing a parent's right to a voice. Regent's urge parents to tone down the rhetoric. As long as my child (or any child for that matter) is going to be educated by a system that is not working, I will not be quiet. What happened to putting the "Public" back into education.
Oh that is right, that is why Kleinberg hired a parent consultant so the rest of us can do what they have been telling children in the classroom. Sit down and shut up.
I guess all the borough meetings that Klein held were just for us to be informed but not have any input like always. Mr. Klein you are going to have to be running out of more of those "informational" meetings now. Parent's are going to show you the same respect you have shown us, Nil.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Personal account of why Small Class Size Works

My older guys middle school failed him terribly. He was a resource room child, who got lost in the system.
His resource room teacher could not teach math, she told us so.
He needed help in guess what?, Give up? Thats right Math.
His parent's would constantly be up at the school screaming for help for their child. We spoke with anyone who would listen. All except the Principal who never had time for a parent unless she liked them.
Every year in the middle of the school year we would get a report card that our child was failing and we needed to "come up to the school to discuss it". We would, and we would scream, but no one heard us.
His IEP was ignored, his parent's were ignored and our child at the end would pass, but barely. This went on and on and on his whole middle school education.
Fast forward to the Ninth grade same scenario us going up there fighting for our child and our child getting the shaft. He was held back that year.
We were livid. Especially when the Assistant Principal came up to us and told us that he loved our son as his own child and that he did everything he could for him. I feel sorry for his own children.

So Mr. & Mrs. Pissed Off had to put our child in a Private Summer school so he could make up all his classes. He loved it there and passed in the 90's. Even on those pesky regents.

The new school year started and he went to his regular new big High School (the one that middle one attends), he lasted two days when he begged to be taken out.
We brought him back to the Private School. We paid a fortune for our son to be educated but here is the greatness of this story. The largest class was 10 children if that. It was a small school, his graduating class was 30. My child went from not passing to being a master student.
From not understanding Math to be a math genius. Why? Because his teachers had time to sit with him and tutor him right there in the class.
There was no more fighting for our child. The teachers had time to actually sit with him in the classroom and help him. He loved school again.
In his Senior year he took Chemistry and was struggling. When his report card was mailed home I noticed that he went from a 95 in Science to a 65. I asked him what was going on? He replied that not to worry that the school already new he was struggling and took him out of the class of 10 and put him in the class of 5 so he could do better. All without me having to go up there and show some muscle.

When you walked into the school the Principals door was always open, for all parents not just the liked Parents. It was a wonderful experience and the one reason why our child is in the College of his choice.

I will fight for small class size until someone hears me, only because I personally know it works.

I wish

I wish that people that do not have a child educated in the New York
City Public school system would stop printing article praising our Mayor's control of the Schools. If the schools are vastly improved why don't you go over to Pissed Off Teachers blog and see her pretty pictures of her classroom ermmm I mean trailer. I also want to know when it has become acceptable to teach in a trailer, or a broom closet or behind the stage in the auditorium?
Do us all a favor and go visit one of those vastly improved schools and question a teacher or a student at random. Make the visit unannounced so no one is on there best behaviour. So you can see what we see.

Makes me remember that when my older son told me at the last minute that he needed a white shirt and black pants because the Mayor was visiting his school. I told him he needed to dress what he always dressed in and if his "Dragon Lady" Principal had a problem with it she could call me to voice her disdain.

If you don't have the actual facts the real facts not the cooked facts that the DOE feeds you then do what the Mayor tells us. SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!!

NYC Public School Parents

Go over and visit this blog and read the views of New York City Parents.
It was just started by Leonie Haimsom and Patrick Sullivan. Kudos to the both of you. It is off to a great start. Finally a voice for all of us.

Does a supercomputer equate to better learning

Once again Klein and Bloomberg show how out ignorant they are to the needs of NYC school children. This week it was announced that Project Arts would be cut from schools due to monetary needs in the budget. ( in other words no money) Today it was announced that $80 million dollars will be spend on a new supercomputer to track our children.
Not to teach our children, to lower class size, to tutor our children, to open a new school or hire new teachers but to track how poorly they are doing.
I like this reasoning, Parents eventually will have access to their own kids data. HELLO, isn't that called a report card?

I just wish that these two gentlemen, and I use the term in the most sarcastic of terms would stop trying to reinvent the wheel. Start reading the studies on what works in the classroom. A supercomputer at a cost of $80 million is a waste of our money.