Would you trust a leadership who wants to sit out the mayoral race?
In 2009, the UFT failed to endorse a candidate. Bloomberg won a close race over Bill Thompson.
Unity wanted to sit that election out, and used a parliamentary trick to avoid even discussing a Thompson endorsement.
New Action endorsed Thompson and tried to bring the UFT on board. We endorsed early, even while another attractive candidate, Tony Avella, was still in the race. But Tony stood not much of a shot, and beating Bloomberg was our priority.
MORE did not exist. But it’s predecessors, ICE and TJC did. And they sat the election out. No endorsement.
Do MORE’s candidates know that their caucus will likely take no position in the mayor’s race?
2013? Unity has not tipped its hand. There will be a debate at the next DA. Good. Members worry that we might endorse Quinn in the primary, or that we might sit the primary out, letting Christine Quinn in by default.
New Action opposes a Quinn endorsement, but would consider John Liu, Bill DeBlasio, or Bill Thompson.
But MORE? MORE will not endorse a candidate. Do we really want to get Christine Quinn by default? If you care about the UFT’s candidate in this primary and election, you have to wonder about MORE.
I dunno. One?
My caucus, New Action, was formed by the merger of Teacher Action Caucus with New Directions. And they (I wasn’t a teacher back then) kept the New and the Action, so that it was obvious where New Action Caucus came from.
But MORE? MORE has more names than your average caucus. (Actually, is it a caucus or a coalition? They say caucus, but then what’s ICE?)
MORE came from GEM. And from TJC. And ICE supports MORE. Or are they part of MORE? And GEM, which is most of MORE (?) came from TJC and some other people and part of ICE. And one could assume that there are more letters in this MORE soup.
One thing the letters don’t do, they don’t fit together. There is no clue in MORE’s name about its relationships to any of the groups that helped create it.
A handful of professional oppositionists bounce from election to election, renaming themselves, picking a different focus, always thinking they have finally figured out what’s holding them back, how this time they can finally break through and create a movement that’s going to shake things up, overtake New Action, and take the union by storm.
But nothing will change. That cycle of poor election results and failure to win broad support isn’t due to a tactical error or picking the wrong issue or including the wrong letter in their new acronym.
New Action is an independent caucus.
We have an electoral agreement with Unity – we endorse their presidential candidate – Mulgrew. They cross endorse several of our exec board candidates. For high school exec board, we run 3, they run 4, and all are cross-endorsed.
On the basis of this electoral agreement, MORE’s bloggers claim we are not an independent caucus. MORE implies the same thing in its literature. And they are wrong. New Action has separate membership from Unity. We do not follow their discipline. We have our own Exec Board. We make our own decisions.
During the election, New Action differentiates itself from Unity. We raise positions on issues that we think are important, sometimes in agreement with, often opposed to Unity policy.
But there are three years between elections. What happens then? New Action‘s record is strong. We support the leadership on many issues. But we decide whether to do so or not. We oppose the leadership where they are wrong.
Go to Norm Scott’s blog. He has a picture of me speaking against raising pension contributions for future employees. That was the best speech at that DA (and no ICE people spoke, if I recall correctly). Against a Unity-endorsed position (that some good people mistakenly wither voted for or abstained on. They were dangling the return of the two days in August that Weingarten sold the DoE)
On the constitutional amendments last year – Mike Shulman and myself spoke – strongly – against them at the Exec Board. And then Shulman was the strongest speaker against at the DA. I remember some of the MORE comments were less than coherent. And New Action put out literature urging delegates to vote no.
On the Teacher Evaluation work… New Action has opposed this every step of the way… from supporting Mulgrew when he said Weingarten’s proposals would not work in NYC, to opposing him on RttT, and on the evaluation itself. Now, we weren’t silly enough to demonstrate against Mulgrew after the evaluation deal blew up (we just got a temporary reprieve) – but our record has been consistent. Our literature has frequently warned about what was coming. I should not write in detail about the Evaluation Committee, but MORE supporters on that committee know that I (and I think I am the only New Action person there) I have at each meeting both constructively contributed to the issue immediately in front of us, and made clear that we need to find a way out of this.
On embarrassing things in the field – New Action brought the massive extensions of probation of two years ago forward (DRs knew, but seem not to have been reporting). MORE bloggers were squawking about Galaxy flagging – but it was New Action that brought it to the leadership last Spring, and got the issue brought to PERB.
Do we always oppose the leadership? No. (I’m not writing “of course not” because ICE had people on the Exec Board once. Jerky behavior IS possible). There are many more issues where we agree than disagree, and the exec board minutes reflect that.
More Additional posts to follow
I’ll follow up with
- why the electoral arrangement is good for the members, good for Unity, good for New Action.
- There’s another sort of issue that we bring to the Exec Board – social issues, and they deserve a separate write-up.
- There’s the mechanics issue of how New Action handles individual issues on the UFT Exec Board (What do we do if we agree, disagree, amend, want to offer a resolution, etc)
- There’s the question of why MORE is campaigning like this – not sure I’ll bother going there.
The campaign is pretty much over 6 days from now. We’ll see how much I get written. No promises.
The smallfry and minnows were the teachers and students. And bigger than those, but still near the bottom: principals. Which makes former Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall definitely a “Middle Fish” What of the big fish? The national figures who promote this crud? And the sharks – the hedge fund guys and corporations who make profit off denying kids quality education?
Most of the thoughts I’ve had on the Atlanta testing scandal, others have already had them. I shall quote liberally:
Definitely read Fred Klonsky’s: The culture that created the Atlanta cheating scandal.
The title says most of it. He reprints his own talk on cheating from just this last February.
His brother Mike, at Small Talk: It’s Duncan’s Race To The Top that should have been indicted
Of course this scandal is really just a symptom of a much larger problem and Duncan bares as much responsibility for it than the 35 who were indicted. It’s his test-crazy Race To The Top, a continuation of No Child Left Behind that is behind the cheating wildfire.
Leonie Haimson at NYC Public School Parents: Cheating in Atlanta; but didn’t it happen here too?
the evidence suggests that the much the same has happened over the last ten years in NYC. The only difference is no effort or resources have been put by the city or the state into uncovering the phenomenon; in fact, quite the reverse.
Under Bloomberg and Klein, the numbers of staff members monitoring test taking has fallen, and the DOE stopped doing the sort of routine erasure and score swing rate analysis which the Board of Ed had done previously. (These methods suggested the anomalies in Atlanta).
In this very blog, Lynne Winderbaum wrote about myriad cheating scandals at Kennedy HS in the Bronx. But the investigations stopped short of any findings about principals and assistant principals (and superintendents, and chancellor). To be clear, there is an interest among all the test mongers NOT to investigate the cheating that results from their policies. Principals and Superintendents may look away, but Mayors and federal officials, testing companies and test-prep companies all have an interest in this testing/fake accountability culture. Cheating comes with the territory.
I read off a listserve an opinion that the middle fish getting in trouble (Hall and Rhee) are two people of color who have risen, and that the billionaires get off while they take the heat. Hmmm. I might buy that for Hall. Not for Rhee. No.
Final thought – the investigation. They caught some teachers. They offered immunity for testifying against principals. And they used principals against Hall. It’s like an episode of Law & Order. Could make a movie. (have you seen that new standardized test cheating drama?) Maybe not.
My proof-based geometry course is a proof-based geometry course. But I can still shake things up: Logic, Non-standard Theorems, Construction, Construction, Student-generated reference materials (for use on tests)
Were I to stick closely to my text (Jugensen/Brown/Jurgensen), most of my readers would recognize the course instantly as the more or less standard geometry course that’s been taught in the United States for a century. Of course the amount of proof has been substantially reduced from fifty years ago, but the idea, the sequence, they are the same. This is a course in proof, but also in reasoning. It is the only axiomatic system that most high school students explore.
And I hate teaching it. Ugh. So I “innovate” – though I suspect that all of my innovations are quite old, and have been done before.
1. Open with a unit on logic, and logic proofs. For those of you from NY State who recall the proofs in Course II, no, more, harder. Include extraneous statements. Teach more rules of replacement and rules of inference, and prove the rules before using them. Venn Diagrams and Euler Diagrams and truth tables. Consistency. And indirect proofs. This was a big unit.
2. Have students create their own glossaries/reference sheets. Allow/insist on constant revisions and updates. Allow/insist that the students bring their reference sheets to each quiz and test.
3. Construction. Fully one quarter of the class periods devoted to construction. Some standard construction. A lot of more creative stuff. We have a set of Michael Serra’s geometry books, and his opening chapter has been a nice resource.
4. Construction. Students must have the tools with them at all time. Quick constructions often become parts of ordinary non-construction lessons.
5. Oddball theorems. There are two types of deductive proof that students encounter.
The kind of deductive proof we more often associate with high school geometry presents a diagram with some given information and asks the student to prove another piece of information. What is being proven is usually already clearly true to the eye.
The other kind is to prove a theorem. The book does this for the students. Or I do it in class. And then we use the theorem. Sometimes the proof of a second version of the same theorem is offered as an exercise. And then, if this were the 1970s or earlier, we would ask the students to memorize these proofs, and recite them on a test.
But this is wrong! Proving theorems is at the core of what mathematicians do. The students need to be asked to prove theorems. But all the good ones are taken. So I will ask students to prove less-known, less-useful theorems. Practice doing the real thing.
(Getting to oddball theorems came out of discussions with math bloggers 2 – 4 years ago. Don’t remember exactly who, and exactly when, but the list of helpful suspects includes Ben-Blum Smith, Pat Bellew, f(Kate), PO’ed Teacher, and the Math Curmudgeon. I think Ben is the likeliest to have hosted this sort of discussion.)
the text goofs, big, and two freshmen are able to do what the book says cannot be done
I teach very little Geometry. It is my least favorite high school course*. But I am teaching Geometry this term. Two sections. Advanced freshmen, who took Algebra in the Fall.
I do lots of “reasoning” preparation before we get to points, lines, planes, postulates, and proof…
So here we are, in March, delayed start (delayed by choice), following our text (Jurgenson Brown Jurgenson) pretty closely, and the text goofs, big, and the kids have enough preparation that they do what the book implies cannot be done. Well, two of them do. But they’re 9th graders, right?
What the hell is the Parallel Postulate?
When I was in school, I thought it was “given a line and a point not on that line, there is exactly one line parallel to the given line passing through the given point.” According to our textbook, the postulate they offer is “given two parallel lines cut by a transversal, corresponding angles are congruent.” And then there’s Euclid. Strange guy. His version: ” If two lines are drawn which intersect a third in such a way that the sum of the inner angles on one side is less than two right angles, then the two lines inevitably must intersect each other on that side if extended far enough.”
Turns out, you can take your pick. Postulate one of these, and the others, plus a host more, can be proven as theorems. Sum of the angles of a triangle = 180. And I emphasized this. We can postulate one, and then prove the others, and we can choose which to postulate (ok, we’ll go with the book. But in theory…) Oh, and so we postulate that corresponding angles formed by a tranversal cutting parallel lines are congruent, and we prove as consequences a bunch of related stuff, including the 180 degrees in a triangle.
Next day… I write the converse on the board, and ask them to prove it (If corresponding angles are congruent, lines must be parallel). I’m going to let them frustrate, just a bit, and then tell them, yes, this is a theorem, not a postulate, but we’re not proving things this tricky yet. But I got two surprises.
1a. A student suggested proof by contradiction. Took our postulate. Used a theorem (if lines are parallel, same side interior angles are supplementary). Assumed same side interiors are supplementary, and that the lines do cross. The contradiction comes from the sum of the angles in the resulting triangle. Nice.
1b. A student (another) suggested a different proof by contradiction. He let the corresponding angles be congruent, but the lines not parallel. And then he added a parallel line to the picture (the angle between them is where the contradiction appears). None of the t’s were crossed or i’s dotted, but the direction was good.
2. Why did I not consult the book before altering my lesson??? The book lies. It should say “The converse of our version of the parallel postulate is a theorem. We do not have the tools to prove this theorem yet; we will prove it later, when we learn the special kind of proof that is required” But it says something else. It says that we have another postulate.
Ouch. I spent weeks readying my students for working in an axiomatic system. The game is to postulate as little as possible, but we have to postulate some things. We’d even studied, a bit, Bolyai, Lobachevsky, and the parallel postulate.
(We also did an extended logic unit, where they proved and proved, and even proved by contradiction, which is how I got two proofs)
Some freshmen liked my mathematical digressions, and wished out loud we could work on them instead of regular math. And we ended up with a one period/week math – hmm – not club, really class – where kids could pick their subject, and I would guide them. And instead of a half dozen kids, two dozen signed up, with a range of skills.
No one, on the first day, knew where to start. I told them that they would pick a topic, they would team up or decide to stay individual, I would provide resources, and they would work on that topic until they decided to stop. At that point they would have to submit something in writing to show me what they had done, and they would also make a short presentation to the class.
But it was meaningless until I got the gears moving.
So the first classes I taught them to count in base 4. Then to add. Subtract (ouch ouch!). Multiply. Then I used slightly watered down modular arithmetic to “clearly demonstrate how our rule for divisibility by 9 works” (that was a proof they watched, and semi-participated in). And then I nudged them. And if they could not find something that appealed, they could kill a few days on base 6, or base 8, or maybe extending base 4 beyond the decimal point….
And now we are a few weeks in, here’s what they are attacking:
- Predicate Logic (with quantifiers) Two groups of two, reading a text, and doing exercises. One will continue, one is ready to move on.
- Pascal’s triangle. One kid, playing with patterns.
- GCDs. A group of three playing with, understanding, applying Euclid’s Algorithm. They are done, and ready for something new.
- Modular arithmetic. A group of three trying to understand how to solve equations involving congruence classes Mod Z. They will present what they have, and then decide whether to continue, or to turn to something new.
- A group of four playing with base 6 arithmetic. They are using long division to transition to decimals. Not done yet.
- Three boys had their fancy caught by “derangements” – they are doing background work on permutations, building up to their desired goal. Not there yet.
- Prime number conjectures. One boy played with Goldbach and a few others. He is ready to present, then try something else.
- There is a girl trying another base (8?) on her own.
- There is a girl playing with Fibonacci and nature. It looks like she has made good use of more of a variety of resources .
Amazing? No. But very good. Walk in on any given Tuesday, and you’d see a small class (22) of freshmen, quietly, and without pressure, reading and discussing math that for them is novel. But I wish I saw more things like this…
What next? Presentations start April 9, as some students move on to new topics. I’ll look over their submissions. And I think we will try to arrange a trip to the Museum of the Mathematics when the weathers nicens.