Tuesday, May 19, 2015

DR Alison Coviello of PS 154 Bronx Has a Case of Truthiness

Finally had a chance to read the decision today and what is most shocking is that the arbitrator found no basis of me being set up to fail in spite of The Email from DR Alison Coviello; Principal and Ed.d at PS 154 in the Bronx in regard to the advice given to her by NYCDOE consultant Michael Agona.

Now that the hearing is over and the verdict in it is time we show to what extent DR Alison Coviello; Principal and Ed.d at PS 154 in the Bronx will go through to misremember facts and share the world with her version of truthiness.

In a 3020-a hearing in March of 2014 concerning a different teacher from PS 154 DR Alison Coviello; Principal and Ed.d at PS 154 was asked if she knew Michael Agona. Here is her testimony(CLICK TO ENLARGE):

No clue of Michael Agona. She feigns some knowledge that he is the U rating guy but in general pleads ignorance. Now remember, this testimony was given in March 2014. The Email was written on August 24, 2012, 18 months before DR Alison Coviello; Principal and Ed.d at PS 154 in the Bronx gave the above sworn testimony.

In my hearing, back in December, BFF AP Jessica Cruz when asked about The Email and knowledge of Michael Agona testified thusly (CLICK TO ENLARGE);

Now onto the testimony of DR Alison Coviello; Principal and Ed.d at PS 154 in the Bronx!

Some highlights.

When asked, "Okay and do you agree with me that you description for CCLR more explicit as a
result of consultation with the DOE employee by the name of Michael Laguna [phonetic]?" Coviello responds;
After talking through with him the types of support that would be beneficial it seemed like it was my duty to kind of think through the possibility that even though we want all teachers to improve after the support we give them that the  reality is that may not happen. And so I needed to be diligent in both giving Mr. Zucker a fair, specificand explicit description of what I was expecting.

So Michael Agona was there to help me? Even though according to his job description he helps principals discipline unsatisfactory teachers (Item #9)?

Or when asked about the first time she and Agona spoke and what they spoke about Coviello replies;
I don't know his exact job title...I believe he reached out to me... I mean I can't recall specifics, but talked through how to support teachers who might struggle, and to support them in a really robust

Robust? What am I? A salad dressing?

But in hindsight I am willing to give Coviello the benefit of the doubt that Agona called her. In the interrogatories my lawyer Bryan Glass and I obtained from Agona he came to the Labor Support Unit, run by that all around great person, Naeemah Lamont, each August to get his marching orders for the year. Someone, and I bet I know who ***COUGH COUGH*** DR Alison Coviello; Principal and Ed.d at PS 154 in the Bronx ***COUGH COUGH*** gave my name to Lamont. Even though Coviello under sworn testimony said Agona asked her who needs "guidance," and she gave him my name, as well as others.

But when asked about The Email to which her BFF AP testified to was true, every word of it Coviello responded that it was not the email she had sent. When asked if the document Coviello has had the substance of The Email Coviello repilied; "I would have to check,"  and when asked if she has that so-called he mail she replied that she "is not sure if she has that email."

 When asked "Well let me ask, do you know if in fact you sent something in some form?" Coviello's reply was;
She was asked if she could produce it. She never did.

But here comes the best part. When asked, "And did you have any in-person meetings or phone calls with Mr. Agona during the school year about Mr. Zucker?" Coviello replied;
Not to my knowledge.

Coviello said just the one time during the summer even though in the interrogatories from Agona which he answered under oath Agona said that he...
...spoke to Coviello several times during the 2012-13 school year in person and over the phone.
Oopsy! Seems as if some people have not gotten their stories straight!

Funny, I could swear that Coviello has said that she "never lies." One can assume that she only meant that statement when she is not under oath given sworn testimony.

Monday, May 18, 2015

BREAKING NEWS!! My 3020-a Decision Arrived

The decision is in!

I kept my job.

I have a 4 month suspension.

I have yet to read the decision. Will read it by tomorrow.

Details to follow.

Court date in Manhattan Supreme Court this Wednesday morning.

Thank you to all those that have supported me throughout this long and arduous process.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

There Is No Way, No How That This Story About the NYCDOE Can Be Made Up. Where is the Logic?

There is just no way this story can be made up. First some background. 

On September 3, 2013 I entered my school on time at 8:10 AM  thinking that I was about to begin my 11th year there. I knew it was to be a long day. Going through PD, the usual getting to know you stuff and the fact that I had dreaded being there at the very least until 3:25 PM if not the year.

It was already a crappy day. My wife needed the car so I got a ride in from a colleague and to make matters worse I had left my wallet on my bedside table. I wasn't too concerned for my carpool colleague had said he would spot me some money at lunch time.

At about 10:15 AM about 15 minutes before a break from the PD I was summoned to come to the main office. There waiting for me was a process server to serve me my 3020-a papers along with 2 of the biggest school safety officers I had ever seen. I had to immediately leave the school.

Unfortunately my stuff was still in the library. I needed to retrieve my stuff. The school safety officers escorted me not just to the library but into the library where all my colleagues had to witness my humiliation and embarrassment.

I collected my stuff and left with feeling even more shame that I had when I had walked in. Through the halls and out the doors the shadow of the two big school safety officers had never left me.

I was supposed to report to 49-51 Chambers St which is the intake location of those that have been rubberized. However, there was one issue. In the meshugas that was ensconcing me I had forgot to ask super special permission to the two big school safety officers to allow me to talk to my colleague and get that money he was to spot me. There was also no way to get hold of him for he does not possess the 21st century technology of a cell phone.

The way I was treated along with the shame and humiliation I felt I didn't dare call the school to ask to speak to him. Being how I was just treated I felt that that they would not let me speak to my ride if I called nor would they get him the message in a timely manner. What was I to do?

With $2 to my name there was no way I could have gotten on the train to go downtown. So I bounded over to the McDonald's across the street and ordered a coffee, and much more coffee. Luckily someone I knew worked there and I was afforded a bottomless cup of McD's best Colombian blend. Along with my trusty book that I had the hours went very quick waiting until 3:25 came so I can meet my colleague in the parking lot of the projects.

Now it gets weird.

Several paychecks later I am short $250 because that day was counted as an unauthorized absence. How could it be an absence if I had been there for 2 1/2 hours?

I immediately called the Bronx UFT and filed a payroll grievance. I was told it can take several months for the hearing and I had nothing to do but time. So I waited. And waited.

About a year ago I had my payroll grievance meeting. The person from the Bronx UFT told me before the meeting that the best she can argue for is to be paid for the hours I was in the building and working. Fine. I understood.

In the hearing both sides of the story were given. I gave mine, they theirs. They did not dispute that I was in the building for 150 minutes! It ended I was told to wait for a decision.

And boy did I wait. Through the rest of the spring, through the summer, through the beginning of this school year when I finally decided to call the payroll person at the Bronx UFT. She told me that the person we argued before (I forget his name) awarded me the pay for the 150 minutes I was at the school. OK, I was good with that and was told that he would be a few paychecks before I got the money.

I then waited, and waited, and waited, and waited some more.

In March I received a letter in the mail from the grievance department at UFT HQ informing me since no decision had been made I get to go to expedited arbitration on May 5--yesterday.

The gentleman from the UFT I spoke with told me that my pay for the 150 minutes came to $76.12 but would I be willing to settle for less. I told him no. He informed me to forget getting the $250 back and I agreed with him. But I was curious as to why the DOE is going through all this trouble for $76.12 when this was to be a hearing which would not set any precedents.

When I arrived yesterday at the American Arbitration Association at 120 Broadway in Manhattan my rep told me the DOE still refuses to settle and we had no choice but to go forward to collect my $76.12.

In the conference room was the arbitrator, my rep along with another from the UFT and a lawyer from the DOE. My rep gave a statement and cited the contract. The DOE lawyer cited that since I did not continue on to my next assignment I can not get paid for the entire day. The one question I was asked by the DOE lawyer was why I did not call to ask for money to get downtown. Yes, in my humiliation I was thinking straight. Besides, what would allow me to think of my school would be so benevolent towards me after what had just happened?

I still can't believe that the DOE would spend all this money to keep from coughing up $76.12! How much did that lawyer cost? What was the DOE's share of the arbitration? How much time away from serious matters did the lawyer have to spend? Transportation? Taking time away from a real arbitration case that needed to be heard?

The DOE has a budget of $23.8 billion. The $76.12 is a mere fart in the wind to the DOE. This is an agency that wastes millions upon millions of dollars a year and they can't put a crowbar in their wallets and give me what I earned? I was at the point laughing it was so pathetic and even told the UFT rep I would accept 1 ticket to see The Who at the Nassau Coliseum in two weeks.

I will know what happens 10 school days from yesterday and if I win I have to wait 8-11 weeksto receive my $76.12.

And we all wonder why.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Senator George Latimer Gets It

We here at SBSB have met with Senator George Latimer several times. We can honestly and proudly believe that not only is the good senator a friend of The Crack Team but families and educators statewide as well.

Senator Latimer gets it. He gets how frustrated the parents are. He gets how frustrated the teachers are. He gets how frustrated this state is. We believe he understands that the the Opt-Out movement was not a protest but rather a rebellion.

Watch these two videos. One, was on the Senate floor before the budget vote and the other is an interview he did in Albany on Time-Warner Cable News.

A couple of takeaways on his budget speech:

Senator Latimer compares the rolling out of constant new evaluations and testing and what not to New Coke

Says we are down this path becuase of the power of the all mighty $$$$.

Tax caps and unfunded mandates have hurt.

Believes the perception that public education is failing is faulty.

We need to fix where the problems are and poverty is the main culprit.

Anyway see for yourself.

From the video with TWC one thing that really hit home is how the senator again hit the nail on the head with poverty but knows that poverty is just not limited to urban areas. There are rural parts of this state that are just as poverty stricken as the inner city. The Crack Team has asked in the past where are the hedge fund managers pushing charters in rural New York?

Click here for the TWC interview.

We as teachers, as parents, as communities need to start building and cultivating strong personal bonds with state legislators such as Senator Latimer. Senator Latimer truly stands on the right side of history (Unlike others who talk a big game then wimp out) in this educational farce being put upon us by clowns in Albany.

Senator Latimer is running for re-election in 2016. Rest assured The Crack Team will be supporting and voting for him.

Come 2018, we hope Senator Latimer will consider running for Governor.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Governor Andy Says It Just Doesn't Matter!!

So Governor Crazy (Andy) came out last week and shared his thoughts on the opt out conflagration that was thrust upon his education policies that occurred in New York State the last two weeks.

In essence what we got from Governor Andy's mouth was that the math and ELA tests that children across this state take so we can collect data and help the students was, "It just doesn't matter." Well, not really.

He did say that the the tests, "Don't count against the children." But what he didn't say and continues to believe is that the tests count against the teachers across New York.

We thank Governor Andy for letting us all see that his slip is showing and wonder of another time when someone came out and said, "It just doesn't matter," and if there are any parallels.

What came to the mind of The Crack Team was 1979's hit summer camp movie "Meatballs" starring Bill Murray. In a scene before the camp faces the children of the one percent from Camp Mohawk Murray's character John Tripp, implores the camp that they can beat Mohawk in the Olympics and that nothing matters. We here at SBSB believe that this scene was the impetus for Governor Andy's decree which he first presented to his hedge fund buddies.

Scene: Governor Andy back from his trip to Cuba meets with Chancellor Tisch, his hedge fund buddies, Lt Governor Hochul, and Senator Skelos in his Mount Kisco home. First Girlfriend Sandra Lee is in the kitchen baking brownies. All are dejected that the parents of New York have thus fare beaten this motley crew of parents and educators to beat back the tests.  

Eva Moskowitz runs into the meeting in a panic.

Eva: Hey, gang, come on. Look it, just 'cause we're losing, doesn't mean it's all over.

Tisch: Cut the crap, Eva. I mean, the parents have beaten us in the court of public opinion the last 12 months, they're gonna beat us again. 

Governor Andy: That's just the attitude we don't need, Meryl. Sure. The parents have beaten us Sure, they're terrific moms and dads. They've got the best integrity that money can buy. Hell, every Tweet they're sending over here to us does not have their own public relations person. Not PR, public relations. But it doesn't matter. Do you know that every parent has an tweet, FB post and blog posts every 48 hours, to ensure that their message gets across? Do you know that they use the least sophisticated social media methods from the Finland, Singapore, and the newest education power, Trinidad and Tobago? But it doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter!
And even... And even if we win, if we win! Even if we win, even if we somehow think so far over our heads that our noses bleed for a week to ten days, even if God in heaven above comes down and points his hand at our side of the education debate, even if every man, woman, and child held hands together and for some reason prayed for us to win, it just wouldn't matter, because all the really good-looking girls would still never go out with me, 'cause they got all the money and they are not donating it to me!
It just doesn't matter
if the students of New York State take standardized tests!
It just doesn't matter. It just does for the teachers!

Thank you Govenor Andy for putting your foot so far in your mouth that there is no way to remove it.

Governor Andy said today he is running in 2018 and thinks he can win. Do the math.

In 2014 Cuomo received 2,069,480 votes. His opponents received 1,749,606 votes including my write in vote for Babaooey. He won by only 319,874 votes. Do the math.

With, I would say about 225,000 students opting out of math and ELA and let's use the math and say each kid has about 1.5 parents that comes to; 337,500 votes against Andy in 2018. Of course we know that most of these kids are siblings and the parents who opted out probably didn't vote for Andy in 2014, but... It is now a runaway train against Andy. All these people have friends, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. And we know Andy will screw up more between now and 2018 and hopefully get indicted before that.

So basically it is bye-bye Governor Andy in 2018.

Time to be an Amway salesman.

And don't forget to listen to me on WFAS tomorrow morning, April 28, at 6:30 AM. Find it at 1230 on your AM dial or listen on You can also download the WFAS app. The call in # is 914-693-5700.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Jonathan Weinstein at High Achievement New York Exposed

After we posted our exposure of Jonathan Weinstein and his buddies at High Achievement New York word came into the SBSB newsroom that Jon is married to a NYCDOE teacher. We shan't say where, other than it is the Upper West Side in District 3, and we shan't say which grade and/or subject only that its special ed. in an ICT elementary class in a magnet school.

This school only has 4 percent of its students as ELL's and 18 percent with special needs. And get this. Only 8 percent of the students get a free lunch. Impressive numbers, huh?

And as one might imagine the test scores, for both general ed and special ed, are very impressive.

We do however applaud all the teachers, the staff, the parents, the community, and the principal on having such great outcomes. Of course one can ascertain that the low amount of ELL's, special ed., and students on free lunch have something to do with this.

Oh, lest we forget to mention the copious amounts of fundraising done by the parents of the school. Hey, we here at SBSB have no problem with it and believe that it is great. But does this not show the difference between the haves (This school sold its tickets for the fundraiser for $70 per person including dinner and open bar) and the have nots. Maybe the have nots can have their fundraisers and Jimbo's Hamburger Palace?

Win two round trip tickets on Jet Blue . Enjoy a 2 night stay in a luxury Oceanfront One bedroom Suite, including daily buffet breakfast for two at the Gansevoort Turks + Caicos. A sleek boutique property unlike any other on the island, Gansevoort Turks + Caicos marries Caribbean cool with urban chic in a way that only New York’ s hippest hotel mainstay can. Indulgence takes the front seat at this completely modern beachfront retreat where every room boasts stunning ocean views. Ride to the airport feeling good in a car from  Go Green Ride. $3,004
Be "On the Floor" with the Knicks! Two premium tickets to a game of your choice (list of 12 to choose from) during the 2014-15 season. These tickets go for $1000 through ticket brokers!! Before or after the game enjoy dinner for 2 at Lugo Caffe ($150 gift certificate), right by The Garden. Lugo Caffé captures the convivial charm of the Italian café culture. Lugo Caffé is the perfect place for socializing and sharing authentic Italian food and drink... and getting ready for the game.
(Just an aside, want real Italian food? Go to Dom and Vinnie's on Saw Mill River Rd in Yonkers. Great food, great atmosphere, great prices. Tell them Frank Sinatra Jr sent you and get a glass of wine on the house.)

These are just a few examples from the hundreds being sold and auctioned of that night last year.

Disgusting. Not that a school can do this. Rather no one can understand why there is such disparity in achievement between schools in NYC. Shouldn't a journalist such as Jon Weinstein once was know to collect all the facts before making assumptions? 

Do the teachers at this school know the background of HANY and that their colleague's husband is doing the best he can to separate them from their direct deposit? Heck, Jon is doing everything he can to destroy the career of his wife. But it won't matter. She'll get pregnant and never return back to the school.

Even more astonishing is that Jon's mommy was a school board member and then president of the school board at a swank school district on Long Island. Jon could have turned out like Jon Stewart or Matt Damon, both of who have parents that are educators. But he decided to sell his soul for the money coming from Bill Gates.

Does Jon Weinstein believe his wife would be the same teacher if she was in the South Bronx, Bed-Stuy, or Brownsville? Does he not think things would be different?

Why does Jon not lead the fight against poverty, lack of medical and dental attention, hunger, mental illness, destroyed families, abuse, alcohol and drug abuse in the South Bronx and other such areas?

Simple, there is no power and glamor involved. It ain't sexy. And it's not what poor little rich boys from Long Island and graduated from Cornell are supposed to do.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Truth About High Achievement New York

For those that have not been paying attention of late there is a new faux education advocacy group in town.

OK maybe not new but we here just found out about them last week just before the ELA exams began. This group, High Achievement New York, is one of those so-called, "Hey we are here for the kids and the families of NYC and we are just regular people and are down with everyone else," groups.

HANY has even being playing radio spots on WCBS-AM and WINS coercing and lying to those that do not have enough information that testing really is not a major disruption and...well you know what? Let's look at the script together;
I’m  Pat Sprinkle, and I am a  New York public school teacher. If your son or daughter is in the 3rd through  8th grade,  I  want  you to know this month’s state assessments are crucial for their future. Almost two - thirds of our students graduate from high school without being ready for college or a career.  These tests are designed to fix that  – they’re a check - up to make sure all our kids are getting the  problem - solving and critical thinking skills need ed to succeed . It’s a great investment for your children  – the rules guarantee they’ll spend less than 1% of the their time on  the tests each year. Let’s give all  our students a chance at a better life. Because they deserve it.
Where to start? We can start with the fact that Pat Sprinkle is a loyal, card carrying member, of Educators 4 Excellence.

These tests do not measure problem solving nor critical thinking skills. These tests are only measure how confused and stressed out our students get.

Maybe 1 percent of students time each year is spent on taking the tests, but how much time is spent each year preparing for the tests?

But what bothers us most is while the voice over at the end of the radio spot tells the listener that the spots were paid for by HANY nowhere do we hear a voice over that HANY is majorly financed by the Gates Foundation, the same financiers that breech birthed E4E.

Yes to a lay person it might seem cynical to imply that Gates monies are pulling the strings. We can give the benefit of the doubt and say that Gates donated to a true grass roots organization. We can. We shan't.

The Crack Team did a WhoIs search of HANY's url (Web address) and came up with bupkus. The information the WhoIs came up with showed many a layer hiding the true owners of the web address. Why?

We then googled the telephone # we found on the HANY blog, 212-681-1380 and found out that that is the main number for Mercury LLC a public affairs/lobbying firm in Manhattan.  Heck, Mercury LLC is the public affairs firm for Campbell Brown's Partnership for Educational Justice! Mercury is also a registered lobbyist in NYC.

It gets deeper.

When The Crack Team spoke with someone at Mercury LLC (More on this in a bit) we shared the address of the blog. Immediately this person read the blog. When The Crack Team checked on the blog's stat counter and the ISP comes from another public relations firm Porter Novelli which is part of the Omnicron Group.

When The Crack Team spoke with VP of Mercury LLC  Jon Weinstein the first question we asked him was who paid for the poll that is listed on HANY's blog that New Yorkers across the state are in favor of high stakes testing. Jon told The Crack Team that MercuryLLC "commissioned the survey." This is akin to McDonald's commissioning a poll to find out which fast food restaurant has better tasting burgers, McD's or Burger King only to find out McD's is the better tasting burger.

We thank Jon for his honesty but for some reason asked that the remind of question be written out in an email and he will respond. He did. But first the questions The Crack Team sent;

1. Is it possible to get a copy of the survey that is being touted by HANY?  

2. HANY appears to be coming off as a "grass roots" organization. Why hasn't HANY shared information that the Gates Foundation is it's main funder in the radio spots or the fact Mercury LLC is the force behind HANY?  

3. How many of the coalition members know that the Gates Foundation is your main funder?  

4. Is there any official relationship between HANY/Mercury and StudentsFirst, Educators 4 Excellence and Campbell Brown?  

5. When 212-630-1630 is googled why does Campbell Brown's "Partnership for Educational Justice" appear in the listings?  

6. Have any of the people who did the voice overs for the radio spots receive compensation and if so how much?  

7. Who other than the Gates Foundation has funded HANY? 

8. Has Mercury LLC done any lobbying in Albany, NYC, or Washington on behalf of Gates, StudentsFirst, DFER, PEJ, Campbell Brown, E4E, and other such organizations?

Jon replied promptly; 

High Achievement New York provides New York parents, teachers, business and community leaders with an organized platform to support the Common Core standards, which are essential for preparing our children for college and 21st century careers. 

We are transparent about where our funding comes from and who our coalition members are.

Our funders are listed in this press release, posted on our website:

Coalition members can be found listed at the bottom of each press release on this page:

We are proud of the work we are doing to make sure that all of New York’s children are advancing together and learning the critical thinking and reasoning skills they need for success.

Finally, no one in our radio ads was compensated for offering their viewpoints. We appreciate your interest in High Achievement New York.

Jon didn't really answer the question did he? We emailed him back several times and he has yet to respond to what we asked him. As a former reporter for NY1 surely Jon didn't like BS and obfuscation when it was done to him.

Is it just possible that part of reason thousands of students statewide have opted out is that we are sick and tired of astro-turf groups telling us parents how our kids should be educated? Interfering with our local school boards, our teachers, our politicians? 

Time to go away HANY and all the astro-turf groups out there. Leave our children's education be. WE THE PARENTS AND THE COMMUNITES know what is best. You don't.