2013-06-14 / Columnists

School Scope

A Few Observations
Commentary By Norman Scott
By Norm Scott


Norman Scott Norman Scott I know there are non-educators who don’t even bother reading this column because it is so inside baseball. They tell me they have no idea what I am talking about. But then again I also have no idea what I am talking about.

Psssst! I’ve Got a Hot Evaluation System to Sell

If you are one of the 12 teachers who read my column, I don’t have to tell you that State Ed Commissioner John King has imposed a plan for evaluating teachers based on student test scores using a value-added measure which many have termed “junk science.” Both Bloomberg and Mulgrew are saying it is wonderful. It is not, but I don’t have the space (or the heart) to get into the details. The UFT official hordes are racing around the schools to sell the teachers on the wonderful deal that in effect ends tenure. Some of you might remember how Mulgrew bragged that he held the line when the DOE and UFT were an inch away from an agreement because Bloomberg blew it up because the UFT was getting a sunset provision and he wanted it to be permanent. Guess what? It is permanent under King’s plan. So much for the UFT standing up.

In fact, King has imposed a new contract on teachers which the UFT is not letting the members vote on. When they come calling ask them about the current language of the contract which says you will be rated either “S” or “U” and how come the new ratings are not a change in that contract and why they have allowed and even supported the right of the State Ed Commissioner to impose a new contract, especially when King is a charter school shill who supports every anti-teacher initiative? King, by the way, taught for maybe a year or two in a charter school. So much for an educator. And he sends his own kids to a Montessori school where the testing regimen he is imposing on everyone else is not operative.

Common Core

We can expect the testing to get heavier due to another national imposition on schools called the “common core” with all kinds of ridiculous rules on what and how to teach – really, why trust teachers to make ANY decisions? You know something weird is going on when Glenn Beck and the tea partiers and right wing Republicans are joining the left in opposing the Common Core. For the right, it is the Obama/Arne Duncan assault on local control over education. Like let’s teach that the South really won the Civil War (maybe they did) or that Darwin was really the serpent in the Garden of Eden. That has been used by CC supporters but the left is not having any of it, opposing the CC on the heavy testing and control exerted over schools where they would actually teach important stuff if they were allowed to.

Albany rally against testing as local group invoices Pearson for field tests

About 25,000 people rallied in Albany last Saturday to oppose the entire high stakes testing program. The local group that I am involved with, Change the Stakes (changethestakes.wordpress.com) has been urging parents to opt-out their kids from the field tests being used by the massive Pearson corporate machine to test questions using our kids as guinea pigs. CTS calculated that if kids and teachers were paid for their time, the bill would come to $37 million. On June 7th, a group of parents and teachers went to Pearson HQ to present them with an invoice which you can view on my blog: ednotesonline. blogspot.com/2013/06/repostedwith invoice-parents-present.html.

Rockaway Theatre Company stage rebuilding

In case you missed my piece on the RTC I want to give an additional plug. I spent part of last Saturday crawling under the stage at the Fort Tilden theater putting screws into the concrete floor. I won’t go into the ugly details other than to say I can now get work as a contortionist. I am going back tomorrow (if the Gateway Parks people give the work a passing grade) to help the always amazing Tony Homsey and his crew put down the plywood stage floor (volunteers are welcome), so the theater is ready for the gala July 19th reopening with “Rockaway Café: The Comeback.” There will be 10 benefit performances over three weekends to raise funds for repairing the theater. When the RTC is back, Rockaway is back.

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