Thursday, April 16, 2015

Eastchester NY Super Lays Guilt Trip on Parents

The latest numbers The Crack Team has gotten via the Journal News is that 155,000 students across New York State have opted out of the ELA exam. Many parents have been cajoled, bribed, pleaded with, and have had major guilt trips thrust upon them. No where as The Crack Team seen anything worse than those parents of the Greenvale Elementary School in Eastchester, NY.

Knowing of the strong surge of parents not wishing for their children to partake in such tests the Eastchester Schools Superintendent Dr Walter Moran III tried to lay on some Jewish guilt to the parents of Greenvale.

In a nutshell he warned parents that the New York State Education Department had notified him that because the amount of students taking the exams will fall below 95 percent that Greenvale's application to be a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence will be denied. Even though one would be hard pressed to find such a reason to disqualify Greenvale here. Having won this award in 2009 the parents of Greenvale are going boo-hoo-hoo.

This is akin to Dean Wormer punishing Delta House by not allowing them to have a float in Faber College's Homecoming Parade (About 39 seconds in).

Whilst examining the qualifications for being a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence The Crack Team was unable to find nary a word that a school with less than 95 percent participation will lose out. In fact The Crack Team came across this little known codicil (With apologies to Dean Wormer).
The performance of all tested students in the school in the most recent year tested in both reading (English language arts) and mathematics must be in the top 15 percent of all schools in the state when schools are ranked based on the performance of all tested students. 
Seems they base the performance only on tested students. So who is fibbing? Who is truly doing the guilt trip? The SED or Dr Walter Moran III?

Anyway the letter from Dr Walter Moran III is just below and to the parents of Greenvale, you deserve a blue ribbon, but a different type of blue ribbon as you can see up in the right hand corner.

Keep up the struggle!

Date: Wed, 15 Apr 2015 10:55:09 -0700
Subject: Greenvale Blue Ribbon Status - IMPORTANT UPDATE

Pasted below, and attached, please see important letter from Dr. Moran regarding the Blue Ribbon Award status for Greenvale.
April 15, 2015
Dear Greenvale Parents/Guardians,
I hope this letter finds you well and enjoying this beautiful spring day. 
This morning I was informed by a New York State Education Department official that the Greenvale School’s Blue Ribbon Award application will be disqualified as a result of our not meeting the participation threshold on the New York State exams at Greenvale School.  As you may know, New York State requires schools to have 95% of their students take the state assessments, and the number of test refusals we received this year placed us below that threshold. 
I am writing this letter to simply share information.  Ultimately, I respect parents’ rights to advocate for what they believe in, and make decisions that they determine are in their child’s best interests.  I also recognize that the National Blue Ribbon Award is a significant acknowledgement of the extraordinary work of our children, teachers, administrators, and families.  The National Blue Ribbon Award is a source of great pride for our school district and community because it recognizes that Greenvale Elementary School is among the best schools in the nation.  
We were advised by an official at the State Education Department that parents could still have their children participate in the English Language Arts assessments that are taking place this week.  Book 3 is set to be administered tomorrow and the three-day make-up window (April 17-21) is an option for students to complete Books 1 and 2.  If any parent whose child did not take the ELA assessment over the past two days should wish to reconsider, please contact Mrs. Casey.
Clearly, this is a parent’s decision.  As superintendent, I felt it my responsibility to share the information we have received from NYSED in a timely manner. 
Walter R. Moran III

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Errol Louis of the Daily News Is Not a Real Journalist

Poor Errol Louis. He just seems to keep on stepping in it and his bereft of any independent thought.

The shame he must bring on his hometown of New Rochelle.

When we last left Errol Louis on these pages we had noticed that he had become the "Kool-Aid Man." Now, after reading his column in today's Daily News we know that the supply of Kool Aid packets worldwide will decrease for some time.

This is becoming too easy to take his "arguments" apart but The Crack Team wish to have some fun tonight so we are having a go of it.

Errol starts off of course without any usual when he puts all the onus on the unions. This year, that number is expected to soar, thanks in part to an organized campaign by the state teachers union and its political allies to persuade parents to have their children opt out.

Political allies? Like whom? If he means the grass roots parents, REAL grassroots, not like his pals at Families for Excellent Schools, StudentsFirst, Educators4Excellence, and new kid on the block, High Achievement NY but advocates that started from a single person, a real life mommy, a smart person.

For instance New York State Allies for Public Education, Diane Ravitch, Stop Common Core in New York State, the plethora of personal blogs, and let's not forget the many, many Facebook pages in which so many are using their own time and their own monies to do a service for now monetary gain whatsoever. Why isn't "Journalist" Errol taking the time and speaking to these people? 

"Journalist" Errol prattles on; First and foremost, parents should guard against allowing their movement to get hijacked by the money and political clout of union officials, whose motivation and ultimate goals on this issue are very different from those of parents.

Actually NYSUT was late to the game, about a few years late. Yeah, parents should wonder what took them so long and why only now are they on the bandwagon but since they are we welcome them with open arms. But ultimately the goals are the same.

Heck, what about the millions of dollars that Governor Andy has pocketed for the benefit of 9 billionaires?

More bloviating from "Journalist" Errol;  a new law, passed by the Legislature and strongly backed by Gov. Cuomo, that makes test scores the basis of tougher evaluation standards intended to detect poorly performing teachers and steer them out of the classroom.

A new law yes. And also a bad law. Tougher evaluation standards? Has "Journalist" Errol seen what happened in Atlanta because of the reliance on the tests? Has "Journalist" Errol read the New York Times and their story of Eva? Michelle Rhee? The suicides? Can "Journalist" Errol explain the algorithm that is used to determine whether or not a teacher is effective? What about the outside evaluator? Who is paying this person? Who is training this person? Does this person know the intricacies of the teacher and the students he is to evaluate?

"Journalist" Errol digs himself deeper; “We have 20% right now. We’d be happy with zero, because it’s not a true indicator of what’s going on in the schools,” said Magee.
“Happy with zero” means the union would just as soon not have its members’ job security or prospects for promotion affected in any way by whether the students have actually learned reading, writing or math.

No. Not just on ridiculous tests created by a company that only is in it for a profit and pushed by politicians getting paid off. 

But "Journalist" Errol rails against bad cops. How would "Journalist" Errol make sure we get rid of bad cops? 

The blabbering goes on; the union’s strategy — backed by groups including the Working Families Party — is to cripple the evaluation system by encouraging so many kids to opt out that the tests won’t represent a reliable sample.

The kids are not making the decisions the parents are. And is "Journalist" Errol saying the parents are too stupid to think on their own, to make an informed decision? 

That’s not the same agenda as parents, who simply dislike the stress and lost classroom hours that inevitably come with prepping for a high-stakes standardized test.

"Journalist" Errol just contradicted himself. But the NYSUT and the educators of this state have the same agenda as the parents. The parents also know the tests are not the way to evaluate the teachers of THEIR children!

The blithering is ceaseless; Cuomo vowed to revamp teacher evaluation systems that he dismissed as “baloney” because nearly every teacher gets rated as effective...

So what will Governor Andy do next year if the same happens? 

Now, for a minutes it seems that "Journalist" Errol gets it; Magee’s response? “The truth is, there’s no epidemic of failing schools or bad teachers,” she said in a statement responding to Cuomo. “There is an epidemic of poverty and underfunding that Albany has failed to adequately address for decades.”

Let's look and compare in "Journalist" Errol's hometown of New Rochelle, NY. Former home of Bob Petrie, former head write of the "Alan Brady Show," and former home of Yankee legend Lou Gehrig. 

The North End of New Rochelle has some of the richest real estate in Westchester County.  Now let's compare it to the Washington Ave and 5th Ave areas of the city. Lots of poverty. Lots immigrants. Lots of ELL's.

The two middle schools, Albert Leonard and Isaac Young are not zoned. But at the north end Albert Leonard in which 376 students who are economically disadvantaged took the the ELA exam only 21% were proficient. So is it poverty, second language learners or teachers? Same teachers, same schools. 

IT'S POVERTY! And lack of English. And so much much more.

"Journalist" Errol ignorantly claims that people must...realize that high-stakes testing is, for better or worse, the norm in our complex modern society. Universities base admissions decisions on SAT and ACT scores; graduate schools do the same with LSATs, GREs, MCATs and more.

And virtually all Civil Service employees, be they firefighters, bus drivers or entry-level sanitation workers, must pass a high-stakes standardized test to get the job. The legal and medical professions famously require exams of punishing difficulty, as do architecture and aviation

Please, don't compare. These tests are not used to destroy someone's career. These tests are not out to trick you and they test questions make sense. 

Students have plenty of tests in school do know how to get ready for grown up tests. But they can worry about getting this practice in high school and college, not THIRD GRADE!!!

These tests are not about helping students are evaluating where a students in academically. The tests the way they are being used now is basically twofold. One, to jam teachers and the other is for Pearson to make s***loads of money. Nothing more, nothing less. 

The assessment of a student starts and ends at home. Want to know how and what your child is doing in school? Ask him or her. Ask their teacher. Discuss with your child what their school work is and what they are learning. Do the same with the teacher. Show up in school when you should. Speak to other parents. Go to PTA meetings, come to open school night, volunteer. Doing all these things will get you the lay of the land of your child's school and knowing what your child is doing in school. 

Wouldn't this be easier, get teachers back to educating our students full time, and be a heck of a lot less expensive? 

One wonders if "Journalist" Errol really has any journalistic chops or curiosity left in him and whether he fancies himself a journo-celeb nowadays or just a talking head.

One can wonder what "Journalist" Errol might be getting under the table to write such drivel.

One can also wonder if "Journalist" Errol puts his money where is mouth is and why he won't answer in regard to this tweet;

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Yesterday afternoon I received a robocall from Superintendent Dr Louis Wool of  the Harrison
Central School District instructing myself and of course others to go to the HCSD website to find out information about the effects of opting out. Nowhere in the message did Dr Wool say anything about whether one should or the consequences of opting out. His robocall was quite ambiguous. It only asked the listener to go to this page on the HCSD website (Strange now how The Crack Team has noticed there is no link on the front page of the website to the Testing FAQ as there was yesterday).

One would notice whilst perusing that page this;
 School district officials are bound by an oath of office to comply with all NYS regulations, including testing requirements. Neither the law nor the State commissioner's regulations provide any legal right or method for students to “opt-out “of the mandated assessments. New York State does not have a statutory opt-out provision and the State commissioner's regulations do not permit opting out except under specific exceptions, such as those involving students with disabilities.

Lots of scary words.  Yes, we understand that district officials are bound by oath (Is there really an oath?), but are parents.

So we got in touch with Lisa Rudley from (New York State Allies for Public Education) We asked her about these so called scare tactics and among the items she emailed The Crack Team is the  School Administrator's Guide Manual for the exams it says;
Except as noted below (Which is basically about ELL's-The Crack Team's added this), all public and charter school students in Grades 3–8 must take all State tests administered for their grade level.

See this bothers me. Stuff like this will have me having a coffee klatsch for Ted Cruz very soon. I am not anti-government and believe that government can do good, but come on! I am not as liberal or progressive as I used to be, I like to call myself a left of center libertarian, but if this state mandating my child and others continues I will donate to Ted Cruz!

But there is more!

According to this memo (Thanks to Lisa again!) Steven E Katz, the Director of Assessment for the SED which was sent to all superintendents  statewide;
 Tests are considered part of a “course of study” under a board’s authority and, as noted above, are included as part of the program requirements for students in Grades 3–8 under Sections 100.3 and 100.4 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.
How are tests a course of study? The "Board" has more authority over my kid than do I? 

Who is telling the truth here? The State or the parents who wish to opt out their children? Will the officers from the Harrison Police Department come to my house Tuesday morning to arrest me and my wife? Will my son be arrested or taken from us? What is a parent to do?

A parent should read this letter sent to the community of Saugerties NY by NYSAPE p3wning the argument of  Saugerties Central School District Superintendent Seth Turner as to why students must take the exam.

Isn't it time we as parents, community members, educators call Cuomo's bluff (In 2016) and Uncle Arne's bluff and just turn down the monies that we are being blackmailed with? Yea, it will be tough at first but the Legislature will soon grow a set.

Parents are the #1 source of a child's education. We know, along with local control of school districts, what is best for our children. Only we can decide, not a mean, angry man in Albany along with his donor buddies and lackies in the Legislature. This foolishness ends this year.

There is still time to opt out of the exams. Go over to NYSAPE, get the sample letter and email it post-haste to your child's principal! Only in numbers are we a force. Only in numbers do we weaken Governor Andy.

And don't forget to listen to me on the Bob Marrone Morning Show this Tuesday morning at 6:30AM EDT on WFAS-AM 1230 as I will discuss testing and opting out. You can call in at 914-693-5700.

Also listen for NYSAPE public service announcement on WCBS-AM 880 and WINS 1010.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Assemblyman David Buchwald Voted Yes on the Budget

On February 23 of this year I attended a meeting of of parents, board members, teachers and
administrators at Harrison High School in Westchester County. This meeting was not held just those of Harrison but for all throughout the Sound Shore and Central Westchester. The meeting was facilitated by Dra Louis Wool, Superintendent of the Harrison Central School District and several local politicians were there as guests.

Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Mount Kisco), State Senator George Latimer (D-Port Chester), and Assemblyman Steven Otis (D-Rye) were in attendance. I was quite impressed. In fact I am quite impressed with Senator Latimer who I have met and commiserated with on several occasions on the state of education in New York. Even better, I live in Senator Latimer's district as well as Assemblyman Buchwald's district. I felt as if Albany came to the masses that night and there was true concern among the three. Well among the two, for I knew Senator Latimer's positions well.

But I was even more impressed by Assemblyman Buchwald. I have had no interaction with him in the past only when he called me from the floor of the Assembly last year to explain to me why he was voting for the budget in which Eva was given everything but the kitchen sink. I disagreed with him but respected his candor and the fact that he called me back. And where he called me back from.

As reported by the Harrison Review on February 26, 2015 Assemblyman Buchwald shared to the crowd assembled in the Harrison High School cafeteria that evening that he had an issue with why there would be diminished evaluation weight on local school administrators and why so much emphasis on the evaluations of outside administrators who are unfamiliar with the community in teacher evaluation.

But more amazingly Buchwald said;
“None of these percentages seems to be based on an investigation of what’s actually best for our school districts.”

He heard how with in Harrison how we are suffering under the draconian cap and holding back of monies from Governor Andy. How the student population is rising and ten teachers are needed but we only have enough to hire one.

Assemblyman Buchwald was good enough to speak to a member of The Crack Team yesterday and shared why he voted yes on the budget. The jist of the theme that we got in our analysis of the Assemblyman's words that it would have been a lot worse.

The Assemblyman shared how the budget negotiations in this state are difficult because the governor holds that cards and with a Senate that is not on board with the Assembly compromise must be made.

He said that he did try to "push back, and was seeking the "best arrangement possible," and how he helped "push to let the Board of Regents" make the final determination in the new and draconian bill passed last week.

While we thank the Assemblyman for his candor and taking the time to speak we must fully disagree with him.

No matter how you slice the new evaluation system it is still 50% based on tests. This is not to help pedagogy or learning but only a way to best jam teachers.  The outside evaluator which the Assemblyman lauded is a problem waiting to happen much as we mocked it yesterday on these pages.

The Assemblyman told us that anything is possible. The evaluator can be another principal from a school within the district or even a neighboring school district. But stop, think, how can this work. Don't these administrators have schools to run themselves? Shouldn't someone doing an evaluation on a teacher know that teacher? Know the students that teacher is working with? What if it is a small school district with only three schools--Elementary, Middle, and High--would a elementary principal be best to evaluate a high school teacher and vice versa?  This is akin to asking a art critic who specializes in Modernism to evaluate the art of someone who was trained and paints in the mode of the Hudson River School.

Basing evaluation on junk science, Value Added Measurements, has been shown not to work and the +/- scale far exceeds what truly happens in the classroom. How can anyone using high stakes tests not consider the multitude of variables that occur in a child? How can a Governor who claims he is for the kids not see and do something about the multitude of children living in poverty across the state and not see how that can affect their learning? He can't, he is beholden to the hedge funders and his own hatred towards teachers.

Assemblyman Buchwald, I thought you were different. You could have done the noble thing and voted no. You knew it was going to pass but you had a chance to safe yourself. Getting back to your quote from above, know who knows best about what is actually best for school districts? The stakeholders of said school districts. Not Albany, not a governor with issues, not hedge funders, and certainly not politicians.

My advice, come and listen to the teachers and the parents. We are fed up. Come and talk to me informally. Come on WFAS next Tuesday morning with me.

On a personal note, I am still awaiting a response from the Assemblyman of emails I had sent on April 28 and May 12 of last year. Maybe he could see why teacher tenure and other protections are so important.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Pearson Future?

We here at SBSB are still analyzing the "victory" and smackdown we as teachers scored over
Governor Andy. Stay tuned on a post on how Assemblyman David Buchwald fibbed to a packed cafeteria of parents, teachers, and administrators in Harrison High School back in February and ideas on hide your address from the state ed department.

One thing The Crack Team has had on it's mind is this special "teacher evaluator" that is part of the new law. Yes, Governor Andy had wanted it to be 35 percent of a teacher's evaluation yet it was punted to the board of regents for final say.

Trial balloons have been floated that these special, independent evaluators can be teachers from the same school who are highly effective, principals from other school within the district or from neighboring districts or even retired principals. No one knows for sure and no one knows where the money will come from for such an endeavor.

One idea The Crack Team has been kicking around (Don't forget, The Crack Team can peer into the future) is that these so called evaluators were put into the bill not because Governor Andy does not trust local administrators but rather to line the pockets of campaign contributors who will be able to make big bucks (Because isn't that what it is really all  about??) from this legislation.

Think about it.Who stands to profit the most from having outside, independent evaluators come in to classroom and evaluate the teachers?

**Cough cough** Pearson? **Cough cough**

So The Crack Team got to thinking and wondered what would it be like if Pearson truly, and quite possibly, gets involved in the future?

We decided to convene a meeting of the social sciences committee of The Crack Team. Actually, it was just a bunch of us eating Chinese food and Carvel milk shakes, but that is neither here nor there. The committee wanted to see how Pearson would go about recruiting evaluators and what type of people would it employ. After the last spare rib and fortune cookie we came up with a working hypothesis.

The committee placed a faux ad on Craigslist which read;

Teacher Evaluators Needed (Midtown)

Pearson PLC is looking to hire new teacher evaluators starting in September 2015. The details of these evaluators is still being worked out in Albany but if you are looking to for part time or full time work this is the place for you!


A high school diploma
A working knowledge of English
A bubbly personality
The ability to follow directions
The ability to make checks in boxes
The ability to use a pencil
A working command of English
The willingness to travel throughout the 5 boroughs
The ability to read a subway map 

A background in education is not needed. You will be trained for 5 hours in identifying good pedagogy.
What would happen next? Believe it or not The Crack Team got some responses! Seriously, we can not make this sh** up! Let's read together (Names, phone numbers, and email addresses have been changed). 

Henry Blake<>

Apr 6 (1 day ago)

to abcdef-1234567.
Hello my name is Henry Blake I'm an experienced school auditor and I'm interested in helping you out if there is still availability. Please feel free to email me back or you can call or text me at 347-555-1212...thanks!


Steve Urkel>

Apr 6 (1 day ago)

to abcdef-1234567.
Hi, my name is Steve Urkel, i would love to be an evaluator, i am a college grad, my number is 900-555-1212.

Alfalfa Switzer <>

5:17 PM (6 hours ago)

to abcdef-1234567.

Alfalfa Switzer

888 888-8888

I am a youth baseball coach and a neighborhood cleaner. I also bike ride. I am a 55 year old divorced man who recently counted traffic for an engineer hired by the Dept. of Transportation.

This stuff just can't be made up. Don't be surprised if make believe becomes reality. 

Education is turning into McDonald's.

Monday, April 6, 2015


I did it today! It was not the first time. Last year I did it for the first time and I never felt so good and free about doing something.

Early this afternoon I emailed my son's principal and officially opted my son, and 8th grader in Harrison NY, out of the New York State ELA exam. Just as he was last year my son is again delighted to having been opted out. Sadly there is no opting him out of the math exam. He is taking Algebra I this year and instead he is taking (And there is nothing we can do) the Regents exam for Algebra I.

Last year my son reported back to me that there were about a dozen or so student who did not take the ELA exam in his school (Grades 6-8) and about double that for math. That is not enough.

In the middle school in Harrison there are about 900 students in the entire middle school. There needs to be 900 students not taking the exams this year. That many students opting out, as well as all the students in the 4 elementary school in Harrison will be just one link in the chain across the state of parents saying, "enough is enough," and deciding that they will not allow their children to be pawns and victims in Governor Andy's vendettas.

Each and every parent in Harrison has the power to stop testing in New York State and our schools back in the control of Dr Louis Wool and the board president, Abby Mendelsohn. We are the parents, families, guardians of our children and the decisions that most effect our children should be made on Union Ave and not on Albany. We can not sit by any longer and let a bought off governor decide what is best.

Does Governor Andy have what is best in mind for the students in Purchase? In West Harrison? Downtown? No. We trust our administrators, we trust our teachers, we trust ourselves, we can;t trust a politician who has received over $4.8 million from hedge fund managers.

As a parent or guardian you have every right to now allow your child, your most precious asset not to take the test. The madness must stop now. Don't wait to long. The ELA exam starts next week with the math exam the following week.

If you need guidance or advice on how to do this please check out these websites;



And don't forget to listen to me on WFAS-AM 120 tomorrow morning as we discuss opting out.

Monday, March 30, 2015

New Action, The Washington Generals of the UFT

For those watching us get screwed yet again in Albany and having Mulgrew crow that it is a victory for teachers, don't wave your angry fist at Unity for they are not alone in the enabling of mayors, governors, principals and testing corporations.

Don't forget the puppet opposition, the hand maidens, the Washington Generals of education labor unions, the New Action Caucus.

But first some background.

Many years ago there was real opposition to Unity (If I am incorrect about anything please let me know). There was [Teachers for a} Just Contract Caucus - tjc and New Action. Mark Schulman of New Action was a VP on the executive board. New Action was picking up steam [ losing steam -- that's why they did it] when Randi Weingarten made a deal with Schulman [in 2003 for the 2004 election]. She had told him that if New Action did not run anyone in opposition to Randi then New Action would be guaranteed the 6 high school seats  on the executive board. Unity didn't run for those seats --
this spurred people to form ICE - including defectors from new action like James Eterno. ICE and TJC combined to win all 6 seats, leaving New Action off the board for first time in a decade. In the next UFT election - 2007 -- Unity put 7 NA people on the Unity line so they could win.
in 2010 and 13 NA got 10 seats on the Unity line Yeah, they were bought off.

The heretic actions of New Action caused a rift and out of the rubble came ICE. New Action became nothing other than a "co-op" opposition to Unity, appearing to be another voice, yet voting and agreeing with Unity in lock step, just as the Washington Generals have been treated by the Harlem Globetrotters all these years.

But the difference between the Washington Generals and New Action is we all know the Generals are there to lose. New Action acts like it is the loyal opposition but in reality is nothing but a bunch of sock puppets.

I have had my disagreements with MORE in the past, but I will give MORE this. That when approached by New Action to work together MORE more or less told NA to take a hike and to come back when their symbiosis with Unity is renounced.

Hey, just look at the New Action blog. See any similarities in their stand and Unity's?

I can not in good conscience support any collaboration with New Action nor should anyone. If you are having a difficult time deciding, take a look at our work conditions, the contract we were subjected to, the state of education. We also have New Action to thank for this.

But you don't have to take just my word. Read Ednotes. Check out NYCEducator, here, here, and here. And Peridio Street School.

New Action is Unity. New Action is not to be trusted.