2005-03-25 / Columnists

School Scope

NCLB In Your Face: No Child Left Unrecruited
By Norman Scott


Aimee Molloy writes in Salon magazine (March 21, 2005) “One day in the next two weeks, a uniformed colonel from the U.S. Army is expected to pay a visit to William Cala, the superintendent of the Fairport Central School District in Fairport, N.Y., east of Rochester. While Cala has not been told exactly what’s on the agenda, he knows why the colonel is coming: to try to talk some sense into him about how he’s handled the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act. It might seem strange that the Pentagon is sending an emissary to a school district, but it’s actually the law. “The provision, under Section 9528 of the law, requires districts that receive federal funding to share students’ names, addresses and phone numbers with military recruiters. This is where Cala, an outspoken critic of NCLB, has run into problems with the law — he doesn’t want to hand over student data to military recruiters without explicit permission from parents. ‘The Fairport Board of Education has a very long-standing policy that we don’t share student information with anybody, period,’ says Cala, who has run the Fairport schools for eight years. ‘We’re being forced to reverse this policy because the military says so, and we don’t think that’s fair or right.’”

Bill Cala is one of the fabulous people I met two years ago in Birmingham, AL at the organizing conference of ACT Now, a group dedicated to fighting the insanity of high stakes testing. I would actually come out of retirement if I could work with a superintendent like Bill, one of the truly enlightened educators in this country (and a damn funny guy too.) He certainly deserves a visit from at least a general.

Now Bill is facing the risk of having his schools lose their federal funding. “We have a 10 percent special education population,” Cala says, “and it’s our most costly program. A good portion of that is federal money, and we’d be in real trouble if we lost that.” His school district in the only one in the country to be declared in violation of Section 9528. But Bill claims he is not in violation. He has given the data requested but only if parents explicitly give their okay. But that is not good enough for the feds. Their policy is that all data must be given unless parents explicitly say NO! Bill says they must explicitly say YES! before he releases private information that could lead to pressure being put on students to join the military. A matter of semantics? Not. Malloy writes, “The Pentagon claims the law is intended simply to ensure that students get the chance to learn about joining the military, but critics believe that allowing recruiters access to student information is a privacy violation and a desperate attempt to encourage military recruiting at a time when the Defense Department is failing to meet recruiting goals. Some parents, and civil liberties advocates, have complained that recruiters have gone so far as to show up at students’ homes after school, uninvited. ‘This is not some innocuous advertising circular that you’re getting,’ says Donna Lieberman, the head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which is assisting Fairport in its battle with the government. ‘These are hard-hitting, hardball marketing tactics that are reasonably intended to intimidate people either to listen or to sign up.’”

Apparently, the military is having trouble meeting its recruiting needs. Hmmm! I wonder why. Can a draft be far behind? After all, there’s Syria and Iran to invade, and maybe Korea too. But I bet we will not see a draft soon. It took a generation after the Vietnam War to get college students to be conservative and patriotic. Risking a return to the good old days of the massive student demonstrations of the 60’s is not something the Bush administration can afford. Young people might start thinking about the implications of the plan to turn social security over to your favorite brokerage house. I received this article because I subscribe (it’s free) to Susan Ohanian’s great web site www.susanohanian.org. The Salon web site is http://www.salon. com/news/ feature/ 2005/03/21/ schools recruiters/ print.html.

Note: As we went to press, Bill sent out an email. “60 Minutes” just called. Hold on to your hats.

Principal tells class, “I don’t know why I pay your teacher.” Teacher quits.

I just received this email from a colleague who teaches in Brooklyn: “A teacher who used to teach at my school – a really smart, funny guy – he taught anthropology at the college level before coming back to New York and taking up teaching – resigned today. Just couldn’t stand it anymore. His principal came in to observe him teaching a math lesson. The kids were struggling to understand, and the principal said, aloud, in front of the children, ‘I don’t know why I pay your teacher.’ Up and quit. Amazing.” That teacher should be the poster boy for every teacher who feels like doing this – probably at least 3 times a day. Ah! Another sensitive principal. Perfect for the DOE model. Boy, wouldn’t it be great if everyone could do this for one day? Greg Lundahl, Chapter leader at Washington Irving HS, had the perfect comment: Sounds like a great motto against the administration. “We don’t know why we pay this Chancellor.”

Lemons for Sale at the DOE

The blurb above segues perfectly with Joel Klein’s recent diatribe to principals in his weekly update warning them not to “pass the lemons” on to other schools when they encounter teachers they do not deem capable. This has resulted in much mirth and merriment among people associated with the NYC school system as they count the number of administrative lemons that have been passed from Tweed to the Regions and from the Regions to the schools. Every sour administrator with a sugar daddy managed to find a position somewhere in the vast administrative tree at the DOE – almost all at six figure salaries. Yes Joel, you are running a veritable mass production lemon factory.

De-Evolution Continued

Now we hear that science centers, especially in the south are so worried at offending their religious constituents they are refusing to show IMAX films that even mention evolution or the Big Bang or any other scientific theories that might contradict the bible. I think it is time to declare the study of genetics taboo and DNA illegal. After all, when the DNA of a chimp and a human is 95% compatible, it’s time for the de-evolutionists to say, “Houston, we have a problem.”

The Associated Press reports from Topeka Kansas, “Eighty years after the Scopes Monkey Trial, State Board of Education members plan to hear arguments over whether they should add information on a form of creationism to Kansas’ science standards.” Toto, I have a feeling we’re not making sense in Kansas anymore.

Hey Q, this is not about you, the MS 198 Principal is pretty bad too

PS 43 Principal John Quattrocchi can breathe a sigh of relief. Angela Logan, the acting principal of MS 198 is now vying for the title as the most hated principal in Rockaway. A group of staff members write: “Her criticisms of staff members continue to be insulting and degrading. She frequently reminds her teachers ‘you are lucky to have a job, and by the time I’m done with you, I’ll have you fired.’ When questioned about what she said, she conveniently denies ever saying it. She spends her entire day (when not at a meeting) trying to find anything that would help give a veteran teacher a U-rating. Often her negative observation reports, and other ‘gotcha’ accusations are pure fiction. What an imagination!” UFT President Randi Weingarten sent her staff to MS 198 to start an investigation. On March 14, regional Superintendent Dr. Cashin visited the school. Another office was made available for Logan on the 4th floor, so some order to the building could be restored. “Now everyone will hear her yelling on two floors,” say our correspondents.

In a personal note to Logan they say: “Angela, remember what that expression is about ‘being careful whom you meet on the way up’, because ‘you will have to face us on your way down’. Of course, we don’t mind if you work your way up from the 4th floor to the roof.”

Wave editor Howard Schwach is also covering this story in his “From the Editors Desk” column this week. He reported on the story a year ago and if you want some delightful reading check The Wave archives http://www. rockawave.com/News/2004/0206/Columnists/007.html. I’ll use just one quote from Schwach that shows the complicity of the region nincompoops: “A long-time teacher who was given instructions to fill 90 feet of bulletin board complained to Local Instructional Superintendent Michelle Lloyd-Bey that she could not possibly fill that much space. She was reportedly told, ‘If Mrs. Logan tells you to fill every bulletin board in the school, you’ll do it.’ Oy Bey! Michelle. One day, when they take the characters running the DOE out with their coats over their heads, we can just hear the refrain – I vus just following orders.

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