Archives for the month of: November, 2014

It now turns out that the lead applicant for the new Rochester, NewYork, charter school has no degrees, or none that can be verified. He did not graduate from Rochester’s School Without Walls. He did not obtain a bachelor’s degree from online Western Governors University. He did not obtain a master’s or a doctorate from Concordia University.

But the charter school will open anyway. The head of the Board of Regents disclaims any responsibility. The review is conducted by the State Education Department, she says. Who runs the SED? Dr. Tisch selected the State Education Commissioner, Dr. John King, her classmate at Teachers College. Maybe he is responsible? But who is accountable? Anyone?

Dr. King is fast to hold teachers and principals accountable. Will anyone be held accountable for granting a charter and a guaranteed stream of public money to a young man with no experience or education credentials.

The Greater Works Charter School will open in September. As Dr. Tisch says, board members come and go. So do charter schools. No problem. The demolition of public education continues.

Arthur Goldstein, highly effective high school teacher in Queens, New York, posted the following on his blog NYC Educator. Since he says he found it on the Internet and its authorship is unattributed, I am shamelessly borrowing from his blog. If you open Arthur’s link, you will also get an illustration of a turkey teaching in the classroom to turtles.


Full disclosure–found on the internet, unattributed.



Ineffective: You don’t know how to cook a turkey. You serve a chicken instead. Half your family doesn’t show because they are unmotivated by your invitation, which was issued at the last minute via facebook. The other half turn on the football game and fall asleep. Your aunt tells your uncle where to stick the drumstick and a brawl erupts. Food is served on paper plates in front of the TV. You watch the game, and root for the Redskins.


Developing: You set the alarm, but don’t get up and the turkey is undercooked. 3 children are laughing while you say grace. 4 of your nephews refuse to watch the game with the rest of the family because you have failed to offer differentiated game choices. Conversation during dinner is marked by family members mumbling under their breath at your Aunt Rose, who confuses the Mayflower with the Titanic after her third Martini. Only the drunk guests thank you on the way out. Your team loses the game.


Effective: The turkey is heated to the right temperature. All the guests, whom you have invited by formal written correspondence, arrive on time with their assigned dish to pass. Your nephew sneaks near the desert dish, but quickly walks away when you mention that it is being saved until after dinner. You share a meal in which all family members speak respectfully in turn as they share their thoughts on the meaning of Thanksgiving. All foods served at the table can be traced historically to the time of the Pilgrims. You watch the game as a family, cheer in unison for your team. They win.


Highly Effective: The turkey, which has been growing free range in your back yard, comes in your house and jumps in the oven. The guests, who wrote to ask you please be invited to your house, show early with foods to fit all dietary and cultural needs. You watch the game on tape, but only as an video prompt for your family discussion of man’s inhumanity to man. Your family plays six degrees of Sir Francis Bacon and is thus able to resolve, once and for all, the issue of whether Oswald acted alone.

Originally posted November 28, 2013



Containing his discussion of the Founders’ rationale for separating church and state, Frank Brealin writes:

“There was a second reason why the Founders feared that bringing religion into politics would have a divisive effect on our young nation — the rise of political and religious opportunists, who would inflame political issues to further themselves. Religion would become both a theatrical performance and a political tool as charlatans hypocritically showboated their piety to manipulate the crowd for political gain.

“Religious hypocrites would disguise their lack of convictions by putting their finger in their mouth, holding it high in the air to determine which way the political wind was blowing, and telling their audience what it wanted to hear. These individuals well understood the art of inciting “enthusiasm” or hysteria toward some plan of action and labeling it “the Will of God.”

“The Founders would have blanched at a government official returning to constituents and pandering to their religious prejudices to gain a following or court popularity. Not that an official couldn’t take part in a religious service, but only as a private citizen and not as a member of government, lest people think that he were lending the power and prestige of his office to their church or religion….

“As experienced men of the world, the Founding Fathers also knew how some politicians or government agencies might use religion on an impressionable audience to seek power, votes, or advancement. Some of the Founders were also highly educated, even erudite, men, especially Thomas Jefferson, whose library contained a Who’s Who of great authors, one of whom was the French playwright Moliere, and one of whose plays was Tartuffe, the incarnation of religious hypocrisy.

“It is both an uproarious romp into the icy regions of a terrible inner emptiness devoid of conviction, as well as a manual for observing the bobbings and weavings of unctuous sanctimony raised to high art.

“In that great patrician school of Parisian sophistication, it was thought that the only way to effect moral reform was not by sermons, but by being laughed at, since few can survive the acid of ridicule. Many don’t mind being thought a scoundrel, but no one a fool! Castigat ridendo mores (“Comedy corrects manners”) was the essence of Moliere’s art that skewered human folly in its many guises.”

Frank Breslin, retired teacher of history and languages, explains here why the Founders of our nation insisted on separation of church and state.

He begins:

“We have a long tradition in America of the Separation of Church and State that prohibits government’s promotion of religion, on the one hand, and interference with its free exercise, on the other. In their refusal to establish a state church or to favor one religion over another, the Founding Fathers did not think that religion was bad, but that there was something amiss in human nature, a certain tendency, a will to power, a lust for domination, that always bore watching.

“It was a virus that lay dormant until its host came to power, whereupon that person or group of persons became suddenly rabid with a mania that sought to punish or persecute everyone not of their fold or persuasion. Paradoxically, the guise under which this malady manifested itself, as the history of Europe made only too plain, was that of religion.

“The Founders thought that religion, something good in itself, could be used for good or bad ends, and, unless preventive measures were taken, it could induce in the susceptible a form of madness so malignant and destructive as to destroy the very essence of religion itself. By persecuting whoever refused to accept their religion or whose lives were deemed as insufficiently righteous, those now in power imposed a religious tyranny so suffocating in its totalitarian grip, scope, and detail that one immediately thinks of barbed wire and concentration camps.

“”Nothing was ever made straight with the crooked timber of humanity,” was Immanuel Kant’s take on such would-be utopians in their spiritual Gulags. Even something as pure and noble as religious feeling, given the weak human vessels in which it was housed, could become tragically twisted, bringing into the world unspeakable horrors.”

The third and final installment in the National Council of Thanksgiving Quality (NCTQ) advisories offers helpful advice about how to continue rating your own Thanksgiving dinner (and that of your neighbors).


And don’t forget the Pledge:


Our Pledge (Talking Turkey):

At NCTQ, we will continue to publish reports that represent the terrible quality of your family’s Thanksgiving Dinner. We will continue to support and publish research on standards and best practices for Thanksgiving Dinner, and we will work to impose those standards on your family. We will use whatever research we can find or create to forward these goals. We will lobby politicians and corporate sponsors to achieve our ends. We seek to standardize all Thanksgiving Dinners, so all US families can be sure they are presenting the best Thanksgiving Dinner for their children. We will also create and support private corporations that will derive enormous profits from delivering a high-quality Thanksgiving Dinner to your family. We will not rest until every child has the high-quality Thanksgiving Dinner he or she deserves.

When you hear about NCTQ, think TURKEY!!



Do you want to know how to rate your Thanksgiving dinner?


The National Council on Thanksgiving Quality has established absolutely crucial standards that you can apply in your home to your own Thanksgiving dinner.


Here are some of the standards that make the difference between a highly effective Thanksgiving dinner and a horrible family experience that will bring shame to your household:


Thanksgiving Turkey should have at least a 73% degree of crispiness, with a slightly darker than golden finish on the skin.
• At least ¾ cups of juice should squeeze from each 2.3 pounds of cooked Thanksgiving Turkey.
• Lasagna should not be an ingredient in Thanksgiving Dinners.
• Stove Top Stuffing must be used, without sausage or oysters. Corn meal stuffing may be substituted, but it is not recommended, as corn meal stuffing is not as effective generally as a stuffing made from Stove Top.
• Yams must be fresh, but butter nut squash may be frozen.
• A table of effective food temperatures has been established and must be followed.


Do it right and you can Race to the Top of your neighborhood. Break the rules and you may be subject to a fine or seizure of your home and loss of employment.

This is a must-read on Thanksgiving Day.


Why settle for the mediocre Thanksgiving Day ceremonies when you can raise standards, every child can have a high-quality meal, and no child will be left behind?


You can begin by rating your own family’s Thanksgiving dinner.

Let us give thanks for family, friends, and the right to speak freely. There is so much potential for good in our country, and we must all do our best to allow that potential to become reality. We must never back down from those who are imperious, authoritarian, selfish, and greedy. We must push back against injustice, violence, intolerance, and war. We must seek a newer world, a better world. And we are free to do that. For which we must be thankful.

Let us be thankful. A hopeful thought from the reader who comments as NY Teacher:

“I understand your pessimism, but this too shall pass. The Obama/Duncan regime are closing up shop soon. Their policy attacks are simply not scalable nor will they withstand the legal challenges that are sure to follow. The teaching profession will survive this onslaught and one day Arne, RTT, CC, VAM, and the test-and-punish reform will be smoldering on the ash heap of failed and discredited ideas.”

As reported in today’s New York Times, Arne Duncan wants to set the standards for teachers’ colleges and use the power of the federal purse to evaluate them. It seems there is nothing that Arne Duncan is not competent to judge, other than the success or failure of his own initiatives. He has used Race to the Top funding to push test-based teacher evaluations (VAM), which have worked nowhere. He has used RTTT to impose Common Core standards, which are designed to align with tests that will fail most students. He has used RTTT to encourage states to privatize more public schools. Many districts now, spurred on by Duncan’ s rhetoric, are thinking of adopting the New Orleans model of an all-charter district, even though the Recovery School District rates 65th of 68 districts in Louisiana and most of the charter schools are graded as D or F schools by the state.


Duncan is a force for disruption and chaos in American education. Yes, of course, teachers’ colleges need higher admission standards, but judging them by the test scores of students taught by their graduates will discourage colleges from sending their graduates to distressed districts and serve as a warning to avoid special education and English language learners. As James E. Ryan, the dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education sagely warns, “It’s all too easy to create perverse incentives.”