Friday, November 13, 2015

Your DOENut of the Week: The 'Nays' Have It!!!

I'm tempted to say that I'm sorry for not posting more and for not paying closer attention to Ed News as of late.

But then I go reading up on what I've been missing and I see something like this and I become immediately glad -happy, in fact- that I have diverted my attention elsewhere.

Education topics are 'nuts!!!

Take this piece, for instance. The title of it premises that our current mayor is letting accountability go by the wayside. That darn mayor and his darn failed policies. It interviews, as part of some good diligent reporting, a lady named Lori Podvesker. Related to Ms. Podvesky, it says;

“There’s no information for you to make your own assessments outside of visiting the schools in person,” said Lori Podvesker, a policy manager at INCLUDEnyc, a support agency for young people with disabilities, and whose son attends a District 75 school in Manhattan. “That’s so fundamentally wrong.”

Fundamentally wrong.

Man, that makes me sad. If only a policy maker existed in NY who could set this fundamentally wrong policy right again.

If only.

In only. If only. If only.

And then I reazlize! Lori Podvesker is a member of the Panel of Education (the PEP)!!

That's right!!!

She is one of the thirteen New Yorkers who sit on the panel and make (I'm trying to keep a straight face here) **policy** for New York City Schools. Specifically;

The thirteen member body designated as the Board of Education in section 2590-b of the Education Law shall be known as the Panel for Educational Policy. The Panel for Educational Policy is a part of the governance structure responsible for the City School District of the City of New York

You can see a full list of PEP members here. Ms. Podvesky's Twitter profile is shown below.

Twitter bios are so straight forward

She is (somewhat rightly) upset that there is little information viz accountability for D75 and D79 schools in the city. She is also a parent of a D75 child and that must be frustrating.

May I suggest Ms. Podvesky use her power as a member of the governing board of the NYCDOE and change all that? Her colleague on the PEP, Norman Fruchture (who, like her, is an education stakeholder and activist) has recently done so with over issue of school segregation. Perhaps Ms. Podvesky could follow suite? Just a thought.

In the meantime, I'd like to offer a bit of reflection: We are in some type of strange, crazy times when the persons who make policy for New York City's schools are out in the press taking issue with policy. Sometimes I feel like we are all critics, grown from the Duncan and the Bloomberg era. We have become experts on objecting to almost everything objectionable. This is the truth with Common Core and High Stakes Tests and our approach to poverty and solutions to public education.  Objecting -agitating- has become become part of our life and our life force. But when it begins to look as though our criticisms have become more powerful than our higher desire to actually make things better, I think a quick gut check is in order. The "nays' can't have this one. "No" may be part of the answer but "no" is most certainly not ~the~ answer. Just another thought.

Speaking of gut!! I'd also like to Ms. Podvesky a box of donuts as she is a recipient of one of my (somewhat coveted) DOTW awards. I hope she understand sit's all in good spirit (although she'll have to share it with Patrick Wall, the reporter of the piece His piece made no mention of her role as a PEP member. No worries Mr. Wall! Everyone slips and I'm still a big fan!)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Here's Why Trade Unionists MUST Vote For Jia Lee

Ednotes has a pretty good blog up about Jia Lee's Candidacy for UFT president on the MORE slate. 

I first became aware of Jia Lee at an ICE meeting over at the diner in 2014. During that time there was a bit of a row within MORE. A few folks, myself included, were kicking around the idea of leaving MORE for greener, or is that bluer, pastures. The meeting wasn't particularly tense, I mean, there was a lot of yelling going on but most of that wasn't directed at any one person at the diner. Not anyone in the room, that is. Many folks yelled at, you know, things in general; people in particular -and the general sorry state of affairs we were all in to be specific. 

Jia's presence at the meeting took me a bit off guard.  I knew her to be "the High Stakes Tests" person within MORE and while I respected her toughness and pronounced intelligence, I just never expected her to be sitting at a table of grumbling  trade unionists on a Friday night. Yet there she was, urging folks to remember the bigger picture -of everything that everyone in that room could accomplish with MORE. 

She didn't take anyone on in any sort of direct confrontation or anything. Instead, she put forth her points at the table, then stayed for the whole meeting, making it a point to say hello to each and every person who had expressed a temperamental thought during it -repeating her points about hanging tough the whole time, while reassuring and reminding folks that MORE's greatest time lie ahead (she was right).

That impressed me. It takes a toughness to calmly repeat yourself to upset unionsts. You don't have to talk loud or go all postal in order to be tough, you know. Toughness comes during those quick, fleeting moments when others expect you to back and you don't. I've never seen Jia raise her voice. Yet I've never known her to back down either. Not once. That's Trade Unionism 101: Do.Not.Back.Down.

Fact is, Jia is all about the fight. 

Writing about her Trade Unionists bona fides, Norm's post continues:
"Jia knows all about crazed administrators, having worked in a school under a Leadership Academy slug and even took on the job of chapter leader despite seeing previous CLs chopped or sent to the rubber room (a founder of ICE was the previous CL who was rubber-roomed). Jia had to spend so much time trying to defend her colleagues from being assaulted there was a danger of having her teaching affected. "

There is a bottom line here. Trade Unionists care about their working conditions, and little else beyond that scope. I identify myself as a proud trade unionist and I feel right at home helping Jia Lee take the presidency from Michael Mulgrew next Spring. I know that working conditions across the city will come to the front burner under her leadership. I know teachers will win back the respect and dignity we lost under the previous mayor (and have yet to fully gain back under this one) with her as president. I know my job will be easier with her in office and the experience of my students in my classroom (and tens of thousands of classrooms across the city) will be better because of it too. 

And I know these conditions will improve while all of the things that effect my students -all of those social justice things that do impact my working conditions- will be addressed and improved as well. 

I wanted to say that. I wanted to say that I'm not supporting her because she's with MORE or because she's been a Chapter Leader -or because she and her work have made life easier for my own third grade daughter (although it has). I'm behind her because she stands for the Trade Unionist agenda that I'm willing fight over. And that's all the difference.