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Our Chancellor

July 19, 2019 am31 9:48 am

If you were reading the newspapers this spring, you read a lot of horrible things about our chancellor, RIchard Carranza. It was a constant drumbeat. He hired friends. He demoted white women. He flip-flopped on math. He is responsible for schools doing poorly. He is anti-white. And there are teachers joining the chorus. Amazing, Joel Klein was never treated so harshly.

What’s going on? This is a reaction to Carranza’s proposals on diversity, and the introduction of implicit bias training. This is about race.

I didn’t love the implicit bias training, but it was ok. It certainly was not the horrible anti-white caricature portrayed on the blogs.

The diversity initiatives? Man, there are guys who teach “separate but equal is inherently unequal” about the South, but are cool with segregated schools up here. Not cool. Don’t like the Chancellor’s plans (and some of them aren’t the Chancellor’s)? Where’s yours?

Instead of attacking Brown v Board, the critics attack the chancellor’s mistakes – and many of them are real mistakes. But it’s in the context of going after him on race.

Let me end this note with something I put on a listserve this spring:

I have no interest in defending this Chancellor in general. However, there are two specific exceptions:
1. when Bloomberg supporters criticize him, especially for problems that were caused or exacerbated by Bloomberg/Klein – in those cases the critics need to be called out for hypocrisy, and I do call them out
2. Criticism of implicit bias training. This is strange place for me – I’m not a big fan of this training, but I recognize that the current public critique, clearly from the Post and more politely from others, is hostile to public education and even more so to integration, and I feel a strong need to differentiate myself from those critiques, especially when I criticize the chancellor..
The loudest critics of the chancellor today are those attacking implicit bias training. I do not stand with them. When I criticize him (as I have done over the last year for Regent’s grading policies, class size, keeping too many lawyers, poor communication with schools, empowering lousy principals, etc, etc) I make clear that I am not adding my voice to those who criticized him on race.


Life without Alarms

June 29, 2019 pm30 2:11 pm
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Thursday morning. Friday morning. Saturday morning. Scores of thousands of New York City teachers have enjoyed them, waking and opening their eyes, without being jolted awake by an alarm.

The only sour note? Knowing that, come September, sleep will again daily crash to a halt with the jarring ring, clang, chirp or loud nuisance song that we set for our alarms.

But does it have to?

(Worst alarm ever?  A very loud mosquito buzz.)

Five years ago, on sabbatical, my early class was 10 AM. There was no need for an alarm. Peace!

(you are generally eligible for a full-year sabbatical in the New York City Department of Education after 14 years of service. They are absolutely wonderful. If you are getting close, start looking into it.)

So I stopped setting an alarm. And something interesting happened. I liked getting up at 6:30. Solving the morning Kenkens. Making coffee. Reading a bit. And know what?  Every morning I got up between 6:10 and 6:40. No alarm. My body did just did it.

Sometimes I needed to wake earlier (for a meeting, or an event, or a morning meet-up for a hike). I experimented. My body got me up at the right time.

Did I make exceptions?  A couple of times, for flights. I might have set 5 alarms all year. And, by the way, I usually woke up before the alarm sounded, and successfully disarmed it.

All good things come to an end, as did my sabbatical. September came, but the alarm stayed off. I was fine.

Now, I can be late places, but that is because I dawdle. I don’t oversleep.

Would this work for you? Maybe, maybe not. I have some advantage (man, of a certain age, I do wake up more frequently than you do). But how can you know for sure, unless you try?

Set yourself a wake-up time. Remind yourself of it before you go to sleep. Don’t set an alarm. And see what happens. Repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Until you trust yourself.

I haven’t routinely set an alarm since June 2013. I can’t tell you how amazing that is.

Problem Solving: Last school day – jury service?

June 27, 2019 am30 6:17 am

Solution! – I requested a postponement to December 23.

UFT Elections – Retirees

April 26, 2019 am30 11:33 am

I might follow this post with a little analysis.

I’ve delayed reporting the retiree numbers, because I have problems with the historic numbers. Retiree votes are constitutionally capped. The cap used to be 18,000. Now it’s more. My variety of sources include:

  • Capped numbers (official and unofficial)
  • Raw numbers (official and unofficial)
  • Back-calculated numbers

The totals I am reporting are inconsistently calculated. I don’t know if there’s any sense using them to compare year to year, except as percentages between caucuses. If anyone can help me puzzle this out, I would work with you.

Anyway, imperfect as they are, here are my numbers.

UFT Elections – Functionals

April 23, 2019 am30 10:28 am

“Functional” as a division requires some explanation. I’ll get some of it right, but I find it complicated. Functional Chapters are organized across schools, by members’ function – or job. Guidance Counselors, Paraprofessionals, Secretaries, Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Nurses, etc.

Are non-DoE chapters “functional chapters”? I don’t know. I do know that when I say “our contract” I am excluding functional chapters – there are separate contracts for other titles.

In any case, since “functional” actually covers a range of titles and locations, lumped together, the votes there are more of a composite, giving guesswork a larger role in analysis.

These numbers look different from the teacher divisions. The total number of votes has not consistently declined. Unity’s totals have not consistently declined. There’s a significant unexplained blip from 2007 to 2010 in raw opposition vote.

UFT Elections – Middle Schools and Elementary Schools

April 21, 2019 pm30 7:19 pm

New Action for over a decade won the High School Division in UFT elections. Since 2000 that has changed, with ICE/TJC winning once, New Action winning in coalition with Unity, then in coalition with MORE, and this election Unity winning the seats outright (though running with two independents).

No other division has been in play – except for the Middle Schools. New Action won them once, long ago. But after the last election some thought it might be possible to put the Middle Schools into play.

Elementary schools have been a Unity stronghold. No one expected anything different this time.

I don’t have actual results, but backed into the numbers by looking at minimum vote by caucus by division in Exec Board At Large voting, In other words, I am confident that the following numbers are at least partially wrong, but definitely close. With that caveat, the results in these two divisions:

UFT Elections – Totals

April 20, 2019 pm30 1:00 pm

It was a bad election for the UFT. Vote totals were down across the board. My caucus, New Action, did particularly poorly

Unity did sweep the seats. But the group that has a monopoly on power has a growing inability to turn out votes, even after turning a popular chapter leader of a huge school, and a prominent Bernie Sanders supporter, with following.

Anyway, here’s the numbers for this time (back-estimated based on minimum vote on Exec Board At-Large, by Division by Slate) and the numbers for the previous five elections.

I’m holding historic retiree numbers until I have a better way of handling the weighting/non-weighting/change in weighting.