Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Sunday Funnies: Ed Notes Week in Review

The last two weeks have become a blur, so if you don't mind I'll use this blog on a rainy Sunday to review some of the political and personal events so I don't lose track of where I live. Or what century this is.

The school vacation was surprisingly busy. A number of teachers were still in town and were fairly active. The Independent Community of Educators (ICE) held a weekday meeting and did what ICE does best: drill down deep on the last in first out issue.

Film update
I spent parts of two days with two teachers and parent activist Lisa Donlan working on re-editing our "Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman" film, trying to incorporate valuable suggestions from the 60 people who saw a Feb. 17 preview at Blue Stockings bookstore. We did some more editing last Wednesday to get version 2.0 ready for yesterday's showing at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. The newly burned CD was just finished around 10 AM yesterday and rushed over in time for the 11AM event. And the almost one hour follow-up discussion with lots more ideas on how to make our message as clear as possible will lead to a 3.0 version. People who saw 1.0 and 2.0 unanimously agreed the film is getting sharper.

Sam Anderson of the CPE was on the panel yesterday and said so many important things that I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera to tape the QandA. When someone questioned the extent we should be demonizing the charter school movement Sam said they deserved to be demonized. He also made some great points about how Bloomberg's legal maneuverings to set up the privatization model. I've got to track him down and get his comments on tape. We don't want the movie to get longer than 50 minutes but these points are worth adding.

We've been getting emails from around the nation asking for copies. Middlebury College is showing WFS this Weds (Mar. 9) and wants to show our film on March 16 to about 200 people. Looks like a ROAD TRIP!

We are holding a raffle for those who are willing to host a school or house party for the ITBWFS - and the winner gets: Diane Ravitch Makes an Offer We Cannot Refuse as "...

Co-blogger M.A.B. joins Ed Notes "staff"
One of my colleagues in the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) who edits the GEM newsletter with me, in addition to assisting with the film, is a Teach for America alum. She did the live blogging from the TFA Summit on Feb. 12 – 4 separate posts during the day featured on Ed Notes. She followed up with a summation of her experiences and an analysis of TFA that is one of the best I have read (a must read published at Ed Notes on March 2).

So I made her an offer she could not refuse: join me in this venture so I can get to the gym and yoga more often. I figure her being 40 years younger, there might be a tad more energy. But more important, in the almost two years I've known M.A.B. I have been incredibly impressed with her wisdom, organizational ability, intelligence, commitment to teaching and the children, her views on education, on the union and best of all, we are both Bikram yoga fans. How often do I feel like a child in the presence of a real adult when I'm gently reminded, "focus Norm, focus?"

The announcement: Teach for America Summit Blogger to Co-Blog at Ed ...
CA.B.'s first blog post: Teach for America 20th Anniversary Alumni Summit: ...

Cathie Black in Williamsburg
On the first day after the vacation I headed up to my old hangouts in Williamsburg for a Town Hall meeting with Cathie Black. People came out in droves, with pro-union and anti-charter signs. There was palpable outrage from all quarters of the community over the inundation of the neighborhood by Moskowitz' fliers.

There was definitely a degree of organizing going on here. Principal Brian De Vale galvanized crowd with a spectacular statement directed right at Black. See the video: Must See Video: Brooklyn Principal Challenges Cath...

Interesting that I saw 3 reporters: Yoav Gonen of the Post, Lindsay Christ of NY1 and Anna Philips of Gotham but the only report I saw was from Christ. Oh, and of course me. Here's one piece I did.
Cathie Black District 14 Town Hall: No Sex, but Pl...

I have more great video to process from this event.

Ravitch on "Daily Show" and Cavanagh debates E4E on "Inside City Hall" on NY1.
On March 3 I went to the viewing party organized by Leonie Haimson with Ravitch as the guest and Al Shanker's widow was there too. We watched Julie's appearance from 10-10:30 on NY1 debating an E4E person on seniority and and she got raves. It was my birthday and my wife likes to keep these days reserved, so I had to negotiate just a bit to make the party. (See Goin' to a Party.) I reported with some analysis, Diane Ravitch and Julie Cavanagh Kick Butt. Stewart has been standing up and defending teachers. Accountable Talk has a link.  And Leonie has a good report: This week, the real reformers finally broke through!

More Meetings
Then on March 4 there were 2 meetings: ICE and NYCORE. So I split the baby and went to both. Not much I want to report on these due to some delicate matters being discussed. On Sunday, March 6 GEM had a meeting of the core group and again I am impressed by how many people are so pumped up they come out on a Sunday rainy afternoon. Since the meeting was internal, I'm keeping my mouth shut.

The Personals
I did not just do political stuff but actually had social interactions with non-ed people. On Feb. 18 I went so see a former 4th grade student perform his one man show about growing up in "Da Burg." I wrote about it here: What I Learned From a Former Student: Ernie Silva ...

The next eve we went into the city to meet some friends to see "Of Gods and Men" at the Sunshine but first we went looking for food. We found a Mexican place on 2nd Ave and they served Happy Hour drinks very cheap. So I had a giant Margarita, followed by a giant Mojito. Did I laugh my way through the ultra serious movie? Well, after the movie we found a dessert place on 10th Street where I got my regular eclair.

We got home at 12:30AM and had to head out the next day to meet a batch of young cousins who we celebrate all the birthdays with at one time. They are from both our sides of the family so it is a fun few hours. But first I had to stop in for a half hour at the theater lighting class I'm taking at the Rockaway Theatre Company. Before I knew it I was standing at the top of a 15 foot ladder wrestling with a light. After surviving that we went to East of 8th for brunch. Here we are after stuffing ourselves: The twenty-somethings and the sixty-somethings.

Yesterday I missed this Rockaway event:

Bloomberg Booed in Rockaway
Darn, the parade started just a block away from my house and I could have filmed the booing all the way but I was at the film showing. Leonie posted this at the NYC Parent blog. Here is an excerpt:

Video: Bloomberg booed and excoriated for his attack on teachers and kids

Mayor Bloomberg was roundly booed at the annual Queens St. Patrick’s Day parade on Saturday, for threatening to lay off of over 4,000 teachers and his attack on their seniority rights. Check out the video below and excerpts from the Daily News, NY Post and NY1:
Chants of "Save our Teachers" rang out from pockets of the green-clad crowd that lined Newport Ave. and Rockaway Beach Blvd. in Belle Harbor….
Anthony Hannon, 80:….“What he’s doing to our teachers and our Fire Department – it’s shameful. Who cares about bike lanes? He’s an idiot,” sputtered Hannon. ….
"The classrooms are already overcrowded and now he wants to lay off thousands of teachers?" asked Jeanne O'Leary, who has been teaching at nearby Public School 104 for 10 years.
Sondra Smith, 38, a special education teacher at Public School 114… has been teaching in the city school system for 15 years. Despite the mayor’s prediction that thousands of teachers could be laid off next academic year, she said she did not fear for her job. Heckling the mayor as he turned the corner onto Rockaway Beach Boulevard, Ms. Smith yelled,You’re against the teachers, and you’re against the kids.”
She was appalled that she has had to buy school supplies for her 30 students, complained that the classes were overcrowded, and thought that the mayor should embrace a city tax at sporting events to make up for any shortfalls in the school budget. There are so many things the mayor could be creatively thinking of to save teacher jobs and serve the kids, and he doesn’t because he doesn’t care,” she added.”

Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.

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