Sunday, September 30, 2007

My niece

My 13 year old niece was assaulted at her Catholic School on Friday.
At recess, 2 girls threw her to the ground and kicked her in her stomach until other children pulled the girls off of her. There was a teacher on duty but apparrently she did not see anything. My niece did not report it because she was afraid, the girls told her that if she told anyone they would finish the job.
My niece went home and told her mother ( my sister in law) what happened.
My niece said she felt fine. Unfortunately my niece was not fine, as the night progressed she was in more and more pain. They brought her to the doctor.
She has 25 internal bruises, and is lucky that her spleen and liver were not damaged. The doctor's report states that my niece was assaulted.
My niece has been teased horribly since she has been in this school, it is her third year. My brother in law is Muslim.
My niece is terrified to go back to school. She already has had problems concentrating this year because of the harassment. She emailed the teacher and asked if the teacher can protect her because she is afraid. The teacher said she would talk to the girls. I think it is to late to just talk to the girls but that must just be the mother in me.

All Power to the Principals?

From the Queens Tribune

To The Editor:
As you are aware if you’ve been following the goings on at the Department of Education, there has recently been yet another reorganization. Remember when we were reorganized into Region 3? Now the regions are gone. Remember when we had a fully functioning District 26? That’s practically gone, replaced by a skeleton of its former self, with virtually no authority.
The new mantra is: All Power to the Principals! Yes, principals have been given unprecedented authority and are freed from the oversight and mentoring that used to be performed so ably by District 26 personnel. Later that oversight function was performed by Region 3. In return for this increased independence, if their school performs badly principals may be replaced, and if their school performs very badly the school can be closed. Do you think any District 26 principal will be fired for this reason? Do you think any District 26 school will be closed for this reason? I don’t think so. Moreover any such evaluation will take place only after three years. That’s half a child’s attendance years at an elementary school and all the years in a middle school.
Is this a good policy or a bad policy? Well, that may very well depend on your local principal. Let me describe one situation where it’s not working very well.
We like to think of all of our District 26 schools as great schools, but some have consistently performed at the highest possible level over a period of years. One such school has been called, “one of the best regarded schools in the city” by an independent school evaluation agency. It was for many years led by a principal who knew how to promote excellence and would settle for nothing less than top performance. The school consistently led the district and city in student performance and was even known to be a boon to its local real estate market as parents actively sought to purchase a house in its zone. It has the advantage of housing one of the district’s magnet/gifted programs and so should have been and was a top performer. The magnet kids seemed to inspire the school generally.
Soon after the first reorganization into regions, and fearsome of the changes about to be imposed, many local school administrators and principals chose to retire. Among them was the principal who had brought this school to the very top. Because of all the retirements experienced principals were in short supply and the replacement principal for his high profile school had relatively little experience in teaching, no experience in District 26, and no experience as a principal. She came to the school about two and a half years ago. I will describe only one thing she did that has left many parents wondering what is being done to their children.
Two years ago, before the new principal could have affect, the school’s fourth graders led the district and the city in their performance on the State math exam. In fact, they scored higher in average score than all but two schools in the entire state. The school was, as usual, at the top of its game. Common sense might have dictated that the new principal would have gone to her faculty and told them simply to continue their excellent work. But it was not to be.
Motivated, she said, by looking at some data showing a problem with the best students, the principal decided to change the math curriculum radically. There were two things wrong with this picture.
First, the principal is admittedly not well versed in data analysis. According to one of the school’s parents who is a well-published expert in data analysis, the principal got it wrong. There was no problem. There was only outstanding performance.
Second, the solution she imposed upon the school has turned out to be a disaster. The school, as a top performer, was exempt from the curriculum choices imposed upon most of the city schools, and the former principal continued with a traditional math text that had worked so well for the children. Entirely on her own, and with no notice even to the School Leadership Team, the new principal changed to the math curriculum specifically chosen for the benefit of the poorest performing schools in the city. It is a so-called “fuzzy” math curriculum that parents find foreign to their understanding of math. It compromises their ability to help their own children. It is a topsy-turvy world where the curriculum brought to the system for the benefit of the poorest performers has here been imposed on the highest achievers.
Well, the 2007 math test results are now out, the first since the curriculum was changed, and the results tell the sorry tale. The numbers are down dramatically. This school was outscored by six District 26 schools all of which continue to use traditional math books, and none of which has a magnet/gifted program. From scoring at the top of city schools, its average was outpaced by dozens of schools in the city and too many schools in the state to count. Moreover, although the principal said her concern was for the best students, it is they who have taken the biggest hit. The percentage of students achieving the highest level, four, was the lowest of all the years reported by the State Department of Education.
All power to the principals? Sure it’s a good thing? Did anyone ask the parents?
Melvyn Meer, Parent, Community Board 11,Community Board 11 Education Committee

Friday, September 28, 2007

School Leadership Teams

The Chancellor has revised the A655 regulations for School Leadership Teams. Why even bother having School Leadership Teams in a school?, lets just abolish them. Since that is what the new regulations mean.
The new regulations will make the S.L.T's another voiceless entity in our schools. Members (teachers and parents) will be able to speak about decision making policies, BUT Principals will now have the power to ignore what the other members have to say and do what they want as they see fit, no matter what the consequences may be.
The new regulations were supposed to be shared with Community Education Councils, but low and behold they were not.
The new regulations were posted during the summer when most people, parents and teachers alike, (hey maybe even the Dynamic Duo, Batman and Robin ummm I mean the Mayor and Chancellor).
CDEC's, President Councils, SLT's, PTA's, do not meet during the summer. It is a wonderful way to get a resolution passed "in the dark of the night."

Monday, September 24, 2007


At the beginning of the school year when my son showed me his new program, I asked him but hulk man why two gyms and no lunch? Go get lunch. He said Pissed Off Woman if I do that then my schedule will be screwed and I will get new teachers and I like my teachers. So I said okay hulk let it be, it is your last year anyway. He was also hoping that for once he would not be affected by equalization, but being that he is in a New York City high school, oh I am so tempted to write it the name that is, but to protect his privacy I won't. So last week he came home and told me I got equalized, I don't have to be at school until second period now. Even though he had to leave the house at 6:20 before he did every morning dutifully, which for him was a herculean task.
Well I was just reading Pissed Off (teacher) and turned to my husband and read this to him from her blog Abominations. As usual he shook his head, but my son piped up and said Pissed Off do know want to know why I was equalized? I said you know I do. He said he had 49 children in his math class, 49 sheesh. He said that his teacher has to take attendance off of two sheets. He loved his math teacher and now he has a different math teacher in a class of he is not sure because apparently some children are not aware they have been equalized and have not shown up yet.
I just want to ask this question of the Kleinberg administration, do you know how screwed up our schools are? Do you? When are you going to stop screwing around and start doing the right thing. Give our ATR teachers positions in a CLASSROOM already. Build new schools and not more multi-family dwellings.
If you build a multi-family dwelling and no school it compounds overcrowding in our schools. It is a no brainer even the non lawyer in me can figure that out.
The only thing you are doing is making our students abhor our schools making them turn off, not tune in. So know hulk man gets an extra hour of sleep in the morning but he is not crazy about it he rather leave the house an hour earlier to have the teachers he had at the beginning of the school year. Nice way to "engage the students". To bad you can't throw money at him, it might make it bearable.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Toxic Schools & Overcrowded Classes..oh my

Wow, so class size is down only 4,300 classes are overcrowded, hey lets celebrate. I bet the Mayor and the Chancellor congratulated each other with some champagne and cigars. Saying look at those suckers they will believe any web we spin and then hand us the Broad Prize. Aren't we just the greatest?

An overcrowded classroom is an overcrowded class room whether or not the numbers are down to4,300 hundred class rooms that number mean that there are still 4,300 classes packed to the rafters. Really what does that matter to Kleinberg? Not really since they truly don't understand the concept of small class size unless it is for one of their relatives. A person that does not send a child through the Public Education system does not understand what a Public Education consists of except that it is sucking up to much of the budget's monies.

Toxic Schools.

I have discussed this scenario before and knew then how well the toxins would be blown back into the school, and as long as this toxic loophole exists more schools will be built on toxic sites with no independent contractor testing the level of toxins in the building. Wouldn't be prudent now would it. To have someone actually enter the building with the premise of appeasing parent's concerns that the findings of the Information Technology High School (fitting name huh?) in Long Island City is safe for the population. We can't spend any extra money to do a test to make sure a building is not hazaradous to the people inside it. If I was a parent my child would be in a new school come tomorrow. Probably in that big overcrowded high school that could not fit just one more child in it. Oh wait yes it could we don't care about no stinkin' overcrowded classrooms.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Klein on Colbert

I watched Chancellor Klein on the Colbert report, the day after it aired and after it was all said and done, I just sat there and knew when Klein finished speaking that I was right all along. Things are never going to change. Why? Well because they just don't get it. Klein and Bloomberg just don't understand what it is to be a student, a teacher, a parent in the NYC Educational System. I always knew it but this just for me put the nail in the coffin. To see him say the words "engage the students" we must find a way to engage the students, and throwing money at them is the only way we can see doing it.
I guess that is how you and the Mayor might have made your children earn grades, but it not the way to engage the students.
I know how to do it. Lets put the children in trailers, trailers with no air conditioning in the warm months, and not heat in the cold months. Lets not let them have working toilets either while we are at it.
Lets pack them into classes of 60, since being stuck in classes of 36 is not working effectively.
Lets make sure our senior teachers are thrown out of the system all together, we need young teachers, unseasoned teachers, how about we just let the students teacher each other.
Lets make sure the schools are falling apart, and the paint is peeling off the walls.
Lets give our Principals ultimate control, let them make ALL the decisions, they don't need to listen to the staff, what do they know anyway?
Lets hire a Parent and call her the"Chief Mom", that will look like we care about parents and students.
Lets give them back districts but take the Superintendent's out of the district, and make sure that the staff is low so no one can answer the phones when those pesky parents have a question, and while we are at it lets also take secretary's out of the schools too. We can pay the students to answer the phones on their way to the bathroom. That is if they can find a working toilet, one with toilet paper and soap.
Lets also make the Union have a President that does not back up the teachers that they are supposed to protect. Let us fire all the ATR teachers, stop teachers from having a say on the SLT's, lets stick them all in a rubber room without any due process if they even dare to question any of our motives.
That is what you should do Joel and remember you have Mike Bloomberg on your side, boy are you lucky.

Friday, September 14, 2007

My middle guy

When you see this child, this hunking bulk of a child your first impression would be boy is he large. At the age of 16 (for a few more weeks) he is 6'6" and just as wide. You would also not know that underneath all of that hair and the bulk is a heart of gold. He was always large, he came out of me at 24 inches.
Wednesday after school he and his friends went to make a movie. They have been doing this for sometime now, and have put the movies on the Internet. I would share links but then you would see him and I don't want that.
After being out for a few hours, middle one called to say that they were in a park and their was a disoriented baby squirrel wandering around the the park, that his nose was all bloody and that he wanted my husband to come to the park and pick up the squirrel and take him to the vet. My husband tried to explain to my son that he needed to find a wildlife vet. But my middle one was adamant that the squirrel needed to be rescued. So off went my husband with an old fish tank, and some hay, and an old shoe box from wee one's sneakers, and went and picked up the squirrel. He put him in our garage with a light, some food and I swear if he had the time he would have sewn the baby squirrel a bed. On Thursday morning as I was leaving my house to go to work, in the garage was my middle guy looking in on the squirrel like a concerned daddy squirrel making sure that the squirrel was fine. He was talking to him as the squirrel was looking up at him. It warmed my heart. It made me see my little boy, the one as we were walking around the neighborhood would get upset if he saw a dead animal. He would stop and say a prayer. I used to tell my very Italian mother in law, and my grandmother that he was destined to be a Priest.
I forgot all about that part of my son until this squirrel incident.

I have a neighbor that rescues wildlife, so my husband asked her if she had the name of a vet that would take the squirrel, and of course she did. My husband left a message for her but also found that a local vet here also takes in wildlife, and off he went with the squirrel. Today my husband saw my neighbor and she said that yesterday she found a baby bird that fell out of its nest and she brought the baby bird to the vet that was nearby and when she got there, the baby squirrel was on the shoulder of the receptionist, and was doing well, but the vet said that the baby squirrel a girl, is having a hard time eating so he was going to bring her home and nurse her. I told my middle one and he is upset because he wanted to keep the squirrel as a pet and we told him no way, no how.
So this child who has been giving me a hard time choosing colleges, kept telling me he wanted to be an actor or a choreographer, yes that's right my children have my sarcastic, wry sense of humor, told me today that now he remembers that since he was little he wanted to be a vet, and this squirrel event made him remember. I am sure he will change his mind again.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Overriding the Cell Phone Ban

The City Council unanimously voted to override the Mayor and the Chancellor's ban on cell phones. It is about time. The ban on cell phones in this day in age is ridiculous at best. The Mayor says only parents want the children to have a cell phone in school. You know what Mayor Mike I wish for once you would think why we want our children to have cell phones with them.
How about you get off your high horse, or out of your limo and decide for a week to live like the little people. The voters.
Go try to make a phone call on a pay phone that is if you can find one. I am sure in Manhattan you can find a pay phone in the subway. Oh no you can't.
Go walk down any street in the outer borough's and try to find a pay phone in an emergency no less.
How about this scenario, nearby my sons high school there is a high level sexual predator. Why he gets to live so close to a school complex beats the hell out of me. But think about this, he sees some poor girl and he has his target on her, she now has to go run to try to find a pay phone and call someone to help her. I hope this situation never happens but it can.

Want another scenario?
Okay then here we go:
A year before September 11th, there was a fire in my children's middle school. The children evacuated and were assembled behind the school, it was around 10 in the morning. The children were told to just sit out there for the rest of the day until dismissal time, at that time not many children had cell phones but the ones that had a cell phone called their parents and the chain started and we went to pick up our children. The school did not notify us but our children did.

Cell phones are an important tool for communication between parents and their children period. Their should be absolutely NO DISCUSSION about this Mayor Mike.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Survey Results

Millions of dollars were spent on the survey to ask Teachers, Parents, and Students what they think of their school. Great theory in the mind, but as we all predicted the people who actually answered the surveys were low. Only 17% of parents on the High School level bothered to answer their survey. I wonder if like me they decided that the questions were to broad, or that Kleinberg were just doing this to say hey we care and lets us show you how, answer these questions and we help you, not answer these questions but we as parents, educators and students knew it was we will spin it in our favor and make it look like you love what we are doing.
Parents overwhelmingly say that class size is big issue in their minds, that they want lower class size. But once again Kleinberg do not understand this concept.
Once again they take aim and say that it is just the Union and a small group of parent's that want small class size. Sure, that is it only a small group of parents.
I am not sure about them, but maybe because it has been a issue near and dear to my heart for over 10 years, and I speak to parents, teachers and students, Joel do you know that group the students? They always say small classes would be wonderful, educational really.
But then our Chancellor rather fire seasoned teachers, all of them, instead of implement them into a classroom setting. The bottom line does not work here Mayor Mike. You can't nickel and dime and education.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The more things change.......the more they stay the same

The Mayor and the Chancellor of the largest school system in the nation want you to believe that all the changes they are making in our school system are doing wonders. That the new Children First, Fair Funding, hold harmless monies, new LSO's, PSO's, Empowerment schools,are all for the greater good. What the greater good is no one knows. Why? Well two days before school is to open, the rules are still changing. The bureaucracy has been made bigger, and if you thing that people were confused before well you have not seen anything yet folks. I thought that the whole thing about Mayoral control was to cut through the bureaucracy. Was it not? That the people who no one knew what they were doing over in Brooklyn would end.
To me it does not seem that way. New names were given to people in new positions that I believe were meant to make parents think that the DOE cares about you and your child. Accountability Office, Parent Engagement Office etc.
How about this new title Blow Smoke up Parent's butts?
New Superintendents are now going to be spending time overlooking 20 schools not in their own district. Why? To give pointers on how to succeed.
Why in the hell do they need to do that? Would the superintendent of that said district not know how to do that. Is that not why they were hired in the first place?

I say we start to lobby to end Mayoral control, because in my opinion the only thing that has happened since Mayoral control has taken effect is create a bigger mess and a weaker school system. But then again I guess that was the point after all. How else can we have more charters.