Reports of 18,000 NYC Teachers Are Released

City Teacher Data Reports Are Released – SchoolBook.

The study involves almost 18,000 teachers in all 5 boroughs of NYC. To put in in a few words: There was no evident relationship found between teacher “quality” and student achievement. Bad teachers (according to the tests results) were teaching in both high achievement and failing schools. Similarly, good teachers, graded in a similar manner, taught everywhere as well.  The tests used a value added system where previous years data was used as a cumulative baseline to determine the progress. There was a correcting factor for race, poverty, etc.

The margin of error of the ratings is so wide that in any serious scientific research, the data would be discarded as useless and un-supporting of the theory to be proven. Some teachers were evaluated with as few as 10 students. Some teachers only taught the students the subject for a portion of the year. Only 35% of the math and 53% of English findings met confidence limits (that is what percentile means in this case). Nonetheless the teachers’ names have been publicized with tag of value now.

The data is so inundated with randomness that it is essentially useless except for the most biased researcher.

Regardless of such lack of reliability, the report has been made public after the teachers union exhausted all its legal avenues to prevent the disclosure. Despite of the warnings of the Chancellor of Schools of NYC that the results should be taken with a grain of salt, there is no doubt that this will have a devastating effect on teachers, on their morale, and on the inclination of current college students to pursue a career in education. It is also evident that the data will be used to justify further privatization of public education.

Pointing to the latter is the fact that the push to release the individual rankings began in August 2010, when New York City education officials contacted the reporters who most closely cover the city’s public schools and encouraged them to submit Freedom of Information Act requests for the teachers’ rankings.

Of the activities that I contemplated in late 2009 for my post-retirement years, one was to teach chemistry in NYC where the need for math and science teachers is always high, notably outside of Manhattan. The work would involve teaching and at the same time following a fast-track certification process through New York University. With a son living in Manhattan, spending a few days of the week in NYC was not a problem.

With the current rumblings, there is no way I would set a foot in a classroom in NYC or anywhere for that matter.

Nonetheless the NYT writes in Teacher Quality Widely Diffused, NYC Ratings Indicate – NYTimes.com  today (page 2) that:  “However, the teacher data reports tended to be highly correlated to the schools’ grades. Last year, 79 percent of high-performing math teachers worked in “A” or “B” schools, according to the Education Department. But there was no relationship between a school’s demographics and its number of high- or low-performing teachers: 26 percent of math teachers serving the poorest of students had high scores, as did 27 percent of teachers of the wealthiest.”

But how were the A’s and B’s determined? Were they determined through the same standardized tests included in the published data? In such a case it is obvious that there would be a correlation of teacher quality and grades because the A’ and B’ were the data used to evaluate the teachers in the first place. It is like if I tell you that X equals Y because Y equals X; I have not proven anything – independently of X and Y.

Or were the A’s and B’s determined through other means, say, the regular final examinations at the end of the academic years, when the exams are not standardized?

The entire enterprise of education reform has such an increasing stench of sham that I can not help but to be more and more suspicious of hidden designs and its ultimate consequences.

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Freedom of the Press: U.S. Plummets to # 47 in the World in 2011

Press Freedom Index 2011-2012 – Reporters Without Borders.

During the course of the repression of the Occupy movement in many American cities, police forces made a conscious attempt to restrict press coverage of events. As a result, in the Press Freedom ranking done annually by RWB, the United States moved from position 20 in 2010 to position 47 at the end of 2011.

But don’t blame the average cop on the streets. The fault here resides with the political authorities who set policy, sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly. NYC mayor Bloomberg is a typical example. When a political leader set the rules of engagement clearly and concisely, law enforcement follows those rules. But ambiguous leadership sends confusing signals to the men on the ground and then instincts take over.

Press Freedom Index: Occupy Wall Street Journalist Arrests Cost U.S. Dearly In Latest Survey.

One link in this article – meet with journalists – points out at the cumbersome process for getting press credentials from the NYPD. The reporter describes it as Kafkaesque – a sort of senseless catch-22 maze.  We also read of some newspapers self-censoring with both the N.Y. Post and Daily News praising the NYPD treatment of the Occupy protesters while their own reporters were arrested and mistreated.

When we have a press freedom ranking lower than Namibia, El Salvador, and Mali, and then we add NDAA section 1021, and SOPA/PIPA, it all  indicates that that there is an ever increasing disregard for the Bill of  Rights among some of the power elite.

Frommer’s Bashes Port Authority of NY and NJ

Newark Airport Terminal B – The 10 Worst Airport Terminals Slideshow at Frommer’s.

” All three major New York City airports are on this list, in large part because they’re run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a hideously mismanaged money sink that does a poor job of responding to air travelers’ needs.”

That is Frommer’s speaking – the famous travel guide – not me.

Of the 3, Newark is the worst. Of course the two complicit governments, NY and NJ, have a lot to answer for.

30,000 OWS Protesters in NYC Yesterday,

November 17: Historic Day of Action for the 99% | OccupyWallSt.org.

Despite some missteps in tactics – like the static occupation of a park – the movement represents the loudest expression of some of the problems we face in America.

Some concrete demands are in order though, such as the overruling of that toxic decision of the U.S. Supreme Court “Citizens United VS FEC”. The OWS movement would be well served if it started, right at this point, a push toward an amendment to the constitution of the United States restricting donations to individuals, defining individuals as living beings, and establishing some limit to political contributions.

I believe such a call would resonate widely and no time is too soon to start because passing such an amendment is a long process.

For the people of the United States, I can not think of a more significant reform than dismissing that fateful Supreme Court decision.

500 Wall Street protesters arrested at Brooklyn Bridge

Police: Hundreds of Wall Street protesters arrested at Brooklyn Bridge – CNN.com.

This was a peaceful demonstration and the actions of the NYPD are not much different from the first stages in the protests in Tunis or Cairo. The remarks of mayor Bloomberg two weeks ago “People can protest here because this is New York” were hollow words.

The question is when will the NYPD use lethal violence against the protesters?

As it appears in the photo, it is the higher officers of the NYPD again taking the lead in the repression. Rank and file of the NYPD, also younger, may be more sympathetic toward the protesters.

Shame on the Bloomberg administration for allowing this to happen. This repression will only feed the anger.

BBC photos of the confrontation of the bridge:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15140800