Archives for category: Farina, Carmen

I invited Leonie Haimson, executive director of ClassSizeMatters, to write about the unfortunate decision by the New York City Department of Education to close P.S. 25 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. It is one of the most successful schools in the city. It is under enrolled, but the authorities could easily change that by advertising its success or placing additional programs in the building. If and when the school closes, the empty building would then be available for Eva Moskowitz’s charter chain, and the children in the area would no longer have a zoned public school. Did Mayor DeBlasio forget that he campaigned on the promise to support public schools against the voracious expansion of charter schools?


Leonie writes:

On Tuesday, a lawsuit was filed to block the closing of PS 25 Eubie Blake, a small school in the Bed Stuy section of Brooklyn, which by all accounts is a school that is excelling and exceeding expectations, especially given the high-needs students it serves.

Last month, the Panel for Educational Policy voted to approve the closure of ten city schools, most of them struggling schools on the Renewal list.  Lost in the media shuffle was the fact that one of these schools, PS 25, wasn’t a low-performing school; far from it.

According to the DOE’s School Performance Dashboard, (according to Chancellor Farina, the “the most advanced tool of its kind,” PS 25 has the fourth highest positive impact of any public elementary school in the city and the second best in the entire borough of Brooklyn, when the need level of its incoming students is taken into account.


According to this metric, the positive impact of PS 25 also exceeds that of any charter school in the city, except for Success Academy Bronx 2, given the fact that most of its students are economically disadvantaged, have disabilities and/or are homeless.

The test scores from PS 25 on the state exams show a sharp upward trajectory, with its students now exceeding the city average in both ELA and math.


In fact, controlling for background and need, the students at PS 25 now outperform similar students by 21 percentage points in both subjects.

Now for those who say test scores aren’t everything, the school also excels according to all other methods the DOE uses to evaluate schools.  It exceeds or meets standards in “Effective School Leadership”, “Trust”, “Collaborative Teachers”, “Rigorous Instruction”, “Strong Family-Community Ties” and “Supportive Environment,” according to the school’s Quality Review as well as parent and teacher surveys.


The fact that the DOE is closing a school which is delivering such great results for its students should not have been ignored.

Also unreported by any media outlet were two other salient facts: if PS 25 is closed, the entire city-owned building will be left to a charter school – Success Academy Bed Stuy 3, the first time this has happened in NYC, to my knowledge.

Also ignored was that the Community Education Council District 16 never voted to close this zoned school. State law requires that before this can occur, the CEC must authorize this, as any changes in zoning lines can only happen with their approval. The is one of the main responsibilities of CECs and some would argue their sole veto power over the unilateral and often arbitrary decision-making of the Mayor and the Chancellor.

So why does the Chancellor say PS 25 should be closed?  Chancellor Farina argues that the school is under-enrolled.  Yet at least five other schools have smaller enrollments than PS 25 and are not being closed.  Moreover, DOE has never publicized the fact that this school outperforms nearly every other school in the city.  If they had celebrated this school’s accomplishments, surely more parents would apply.  The sad reality is that many public schools in D16 have lost enrollment because of the supersaturation of charter schools in the district –  a drain on space, funding and resources which will only worsen if this school is closed.

According to the DOE’s controversial school capacity formula, PS 25’s “underenrollment” also means there is sufficient space in the building for its small class sizes of 10 to 18 – which provide ideal learning environments and are likely a major reason for its students’ success.  The DOE could also place another preK or a 3K class in the building if they wanted its enrollment to grow.

Currently, PS 25 parents are being shown a list of other schools to apply to, most outside the district and a few schools within — but none will have the same small classes and positive impact on learning, and none of them will their children have the right to attend.

Given how difficult many of these families’ lives are already, with nearly one quarter of the students homeless, this will be yet another terrible disruption, though in this case, wholly preventable. One can only hope the DOE changes course and withdraws the proposal to close PS 25 immediately.

Below is the press release about the lawsuit, which describes a 2009 legal precedent when then-Chancellor Joel Klein withdrew a proposal to close three zoned schools in Harlem and Brooklyn after being sued.  He then signed an agreement that the DOE would never do this again without a vote of the CECs.  The legal complaint to block PS 25’s closure with more data about the school and facts about the law is posted here.


For Immediate Release: Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Contact: Leonie Haimson, 917-435-9329;



Lawsuit filed to stop the closure of PS 25, the 4th best public elementary school in NYC according to the DOE


Today a lawsuit was filed in the Brooklyn State Supreme Court against the proposed closure of P.S. 25 Eubie Blake in District 16, Brooklyn, a zoned neighborhood school, which Chancellor Carmen Farina and the Board of Education are attempting to close without the prior approval of the Community Education Council.

Last month, on February 28, the Panel on Educational Policy voted to close the school which will require students to seek enrollment in other schools, with no assurance of admission.  Not only is it a violation of NY State Education law 2590-e to close the only zoned school in the neighborhood without the district CEC’s prior approval, but P.S. 25 is also the fourth best public elementary school in NYC in the estimation of the Department of Education, and the second best in the borough of Brooklyn, when the need level of its students is taken into account.

According to the DOE’s School Performance Dashboard, which according to Chancellor Fariña is ““the most advanced tool of its kind,” the positive impact of P.S. 25 is greater than all but three of the city’s 661 public elementary schools, and its closure would leave the entire city-owned building to Success Academy Bed Stuy 3, a charter school. [1]

Achievement levels of P.S. 25 students have steadily climbed over the last three years, and the school now exceeds the city average in state test scores, despite the fact that a large percentage of students are homeless, economically disadvantaged, and/or have disabilities. According to DOE’s figures, the school’s students outperform similar students by 21 percentage points in ELA and math.  The achievement of the more than thirty percent of students with disabilities is also exceptionally high.

The school also meets or exceeds standards in all the following areas:  Effective School Leadership, Trust, Collaborative Teachers, Rigorous Instruction, Strong Family-Community Ties, and Supportive Environment.

Plaintiff Crystal Williams, a parent of two children at P.S. 25, said: “The school has seen a big improvement in recent years.  The teachers are excellent.  They give students close support, and my kids are learning.  The teachers take their time in part because they have small classes, and I don’t believe my children would be provided with the same quality of education at whatever other schools they are forced to attend.”

“PS 25 should be honored and replicated, not closed,” said Mark Cannizzaro, President of the Council for School Supervisors and Administrators, the principals’ union. “The school has been on a clear, upward trajectory: Dedicated school leaders and teachers have helped boost English and math test scores ever higher compared to the district and the city as a whole. All the while, PS 25 has made great strides in addressing students’ social and emotional needs, and has offered them a vibrant curriculum with art, music, library skills, coding and STEM classes. We continue to oppose this decision. The students, families and educators of PS 25 deserve better.”

Said Shakema Armstead, a plaintiff who has a third grader at PS 25, “My son, who has an I.E.P, loves the school.  It gives him and other students with a sense of community and stability that allow them to thrive.  There is no reason for them to be thrown into another school where they would have to re-adjust to an entirely new environment, especially as P.S. 25 is doing so well.”

There is a precedent for this lawsuit. In 2009, a lawsuit was filed against Chancellor Joel Klein on behalf of parents at three neighborhood zoned schools, in Harlem and Ocean Hill-Brownsville area, to prevent the closure of these schools without a vote of the relevant CECs.  The lawsuit was joined by Randi Weingarten, then President of the UFT, and NYC Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum. Within weeks, Chancellor Klein withdrew the closure proposals.[2]  He subsequently signed the following settlement agreement:

The [plaintiffs and the DOE] agree with regard to the three schools identified in the Complaint and any other traditional public school that, for those grades that are within the province of school attendance zones, [the DOE] will not close, phase-out, remove, alter or engage in conduct designed to effect the closure of any such school in a way that deprives residents of the right to send a qualifying child to his or her zoned traditional school, without either (1) obtaining, pursuant to 2590-e(11) of the Education Law, the approval of the relevant Community Education Council as to such change or (2) timely replacing such school with another zoned school within the same attendance zone.

In this case, DOE has no plans to create another zoned school for these children, and yet no vote of Community Education Council 16 has occurred.  The DOE claims that the school is being closed because it is under-enrolled, but this ignores several important factors:  Parents have not been told of the exceedingly high quality of the school according to the DOE’s own metrics, and if they had been informed of this, more of them would likely enroll their children in the school.  The DOE could also install another preK or a 3K program in the school.   The availability of space has also allowed for very small classes, which in turn have provided PS 25 students with an exceptional opportunity to learn.

Said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters, “It would be tragic if the second best elementary school in Brooklyn were closed.  PS 25 has very small classes of 10 to 18 students, which are ideal for such high-poverty students.  Given how the DOE refuses to align the school capacity formula with smaller classes, that alone makes the school appear underutilized.  It would be extremely disruptive if this closure occurs, especially for the large number of homeless children at PS 25, because the school is a sanctuary of stability in their lives. Instead of closing PS 25, the DOE should celebrate, emulate and expand it—and give more NYC children the same chance to succeed.”

A copy of the lawsuit is posted here:




The Pearson teacher certification exam called EdTPA is e trembly controversial. Many teacher educators believe that it seeks to standardize teacher preparation and reduces the autonomy of those who know future teachers best: those who taught them.


Laura Chapman, retired arts educator and crack researcher, here explains the origins of EdTPA.



“Pearson is the target of criticism of the edPTA, but the real culprit is that should be given attention is the lead developer, and it is NOT Pearson.


“The lead developer for edPTA was The Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE).


“Stanford University owns the intellectual property rights and trademark for edTPA. SCALE is responsible for all edTPA development including candidate handbooks, scoring rubrics, and the scoring training design, curriculum and materials (including benchmarks). SCALE also develops and vets edPTA support materials in the Resource Library and through the National Academy.”


“Stanford University has an agreement with Evaluation Systems, a unit of Pearson, licensing Pearson to administer and distribute edTPA.


“So, if you have complaints about edTPA, the target should not just be Pearson, but SCALE at Stanford University, where the edPTA was first envisioned as comparable to tests given in the professions of law and medicine indicating “readiness” to practice as a professional.


“SCALE as a big fan of so-called performance assessments. The SCALE website lists these “partners.”


1. American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. AACTE “coordinates overall project management and communication and provides implementation support to participating institutions of higher education (IHEs) through a website, resource library, and an online community.


2. Center for Collaborative Education (CCE) provides technical assistance and professional development to schools, districts, and state boards of education. CEE and SCALE are working with the Innovation Lab Network (ILN) of twelve states “taking action to identify, test, and implement student-centered approaches to learning that will transform our public education system.” The CCSSO (see below) facilitates this work, organized around “shared principles, known as the six critical attributes” for innovation: including: Fostering world-class knowledge, skills; Student agency; Performance-based learning: Anytime/anywhere opportunities: Providing comprehensive systems of learner support. In other words, anytime/anywhere online learning.


3. Council of the Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and SCALE have partnered on the National Quality Assessment Project and the Teacher Performance Assessment Consortium. The CCSSO played a major role in launching the Common Core State Standards. It receives generous funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


4. Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC) and SCALE work on College and Career Readiness research and tools for high school/college alignment especially state-of-the-art, criterion-based, standards-referenced methods of course and document analysis.


5. Envision Schools/Envision Learning Partners, a charter management company in the San Francisco Bay Area, operates four Arts and Technology High Schools. SCALE helped to design, develop, and promote their College Success (Digital) Portfolio System with performance outcomes, scoring rubrics, and tasks in ELA, mathematics, science inquiry and science literacy, history-social science, foreign language, and the arts.


6. Evaluation Systems, a Group of Pearson, is the operational partner for edTPA. Evaluation Systems provides the infrastructure and technical platform to collect, score, and deliver edTPA results to teacher candidates and preparation programs.At last report, 18,000 teachers took the test. Each paid a minimum of $300. It is unknown what Stanford and/or SCALE may receive for this use of their intellectual property.


7. Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC). SCALE has created “a rigorous jurying process for LDC curriculum modules” for the Common Core; a standard, accurate process for reviewing modules and “providing teachers with actionable feedback for revision; training in this process in support of “calibration around the quality of teacher work.”


8. Measured Progress is a not-for-profit testing company with statewide assessment contracts in over half of the states. For the past decade and a half, Measured Progress has operated alternate assessment programs for students with moderate to severe learning disabilities, in more states than any other company. It operates a Common Core Assessment Program and conducts R& D work with SCALE on scoring performance assessments.


9. Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT) This is a consortium of 32 pre-service teacher preparation programs that contribute annually to ongoing improvements in an “alternative” for the state-mandated performance assessment needed to qualify for a preliminary teaching credential.


10. ShowEvidence works with SCALE on refining the practice of submitting and rating artifacts to support student and teacher assessment and evaluation.


11. Silicon Valley Math Initiative works with SCALE on student performance assessment projects in mathematics in Ohio and New York City. They have also worked with SCALE to design and develop performance outcomes, scoring rubrics, scoring protocols, and performance assessment tasks.


12. Teachscape has a contract with SCALE to develop and field test a tier II teacher licensing system in Ohio. Teachscape served as the management lead for the Gates-funded Measuring Effective Teachers project of which SCALE is a partner. (The MET Project, nothing to brag about, is critically examined here


13. Westat collaborates with SCALE on The Common Assignment Study, a three-year effort to promote a common methodology for teaching the college and career readiness standards in Colorado and Kentucky, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Participating teachers develop and teach two units, incorporating common performance tasks for students.


14. WestEd and SCALE are providing professional development in multiple states to build educator assessment literacy, especially performance tasks to support instruction for college and career readiness and success. This includes project includes work to “train the trainers” for professional development.


“I have edited these descriptions of partnerships for length.


“It is clear that SCALE is functioning as an R&D lab and promoter of the Common Core, College and Career agenda along with modular curricula and assessments for so-called personalized learning.


“SCALE is very much a promoter of the Gates version of “reform,” and the focus on Pearson’s highly questionable edPTA should not leave SCALE and Stanford off the hook.”

While the state of New York is scrambling to respond to the outraged parents who opted out of state tests last year, New York City is threatening teachers who dare to speak about opting out.


Last spring, 20% of the state’s eligible students opted out (about a quarter million students), but the numbers were much lower in New York City. Some attribute this to the fear of losing funding. Whatever the reason, less than 2% of students in New York City refused the tests.


The city wants to keep the numbers low.


According to the New York Times:


At a forum in December, Anita Skop, the superintendent of District 15 in Brooklyn, which had the highest rate of test refusals in the city last year, said that for an educator to encourage opting out was a political act and that public employees were barred from using their positions to make political statements.
On March 7, the teachers at Public School 234 in TriBeCa, where only two students opted out last year, emailed the school’s parents a broadside against the tests. The email said the exams hurt “every single class of students across the school” because of the resources they consumed.


But 10 days later, when dozens of parents showed up for a PTA meeting where they expected to hear more about the tests, the teachers were nowhere to be seen. The school’s principal explained that “it didn’t feel safe” for them to speak, adding that their union had informed them that their email could be considered insubordination. The principal, Lisa Ripperger, introduced an official from the Education Department who was there to “help oversee our meeting.”


Several principals said they had been told by either the schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, or their superintendents that they and their teachers should not encourage opting out. There were no specific consequences mentioned, but the warnings were enough to deter some educators.


Devora Kaye, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, said that teachers were free to express themselves on matters of public concern as private citizens, but not as representatives of the department, and that if they crossed that line they could be disciplined. Asked what the disciplinary measures might be, Ms. Kaye said they were determined case by case.


“I don’t think that the teachers’ putting themselves in the middle of it is a good idea,” Ms. Fariña said in an interview.



Carmen Farina, Chancellor of the New York City public schools, here describes her plans to improve the public schools in a district with 1.1 million students. She wrote this post in response to my request to outline her priorities. The last three Chancellors in Néw York City were non-educators. Many educators were delighted when Mayor Bill de Blasio selected an experienced educator to run the system. It is also welcome to hear the chancellor talk of collaboration, not competition.

“Toward a More Perfect School System

“September has always been my favorite month. I love it because it’s a time of possibilities, when every child can be reached and every parent can be engaged in their child’s education. This September has added meaning for me: it’s my 50th as a New York City public school educator. I’ve seen many changes over the past five decades and I am pleased that one thing hasn’t changed: our most important work still happens in the classroom, with teachers and administrators who are committed to doing whatever it takes to help all our of students realize their dreams.

“I am proud of the strides we have made over the past 20 months, restoring dignity and respect to the craft of teaching and school leadership. We continue to focus our attention on teacher recruitment and retention, providing mentoring and other supports so that our teachers feel valued and continue to grow professionally; every student deserves to learn from an excellent, engaged teacher. We have successfully moved from a system of competition to one of collaboration. Our educators have embraced the new spirit of cooperation that informs all of our work. This summer alone, thousands of teachers, principals, and superintendents attended professional development sessions on topics ranging from STEM and information technology to building a leadership pipeline and creating a college-going culture in schools. This year, we also created a new, streamlined school support structure under the direction of strong, experienced superintendents. The approach, which marries accountability and support with innovation, aims to provide all of our schools with the tools help they need to improve instruction, operations, and student services.

“Now, we are building on that progress. This fall, every four-year-old in the City will have access to free, full-day, high-quality pre-kindergarten. It’s extremely satisfying to know that our youngest learners will have an additional year of rich academic experiences. We are targeting extra supports to our Renewal Schools and we will have 130 new Community Schools, with wrap-around services that meet the whole needs of all of our students. As a former English Language Learner, I am also proud of the 40 new Dual Language Programs we are opening. A multi-lingual, multi-cultural education is crucial for our students, and our nation, to compete in the global economy.

“Finally, we have renewed our commitment to parent engagement, which we know plays a critical role in student achievement. With a new, strong leader overseeing family and community engagement, we will deepen the connection between schools and communities. The 40 minutes schools set aside each week to involve families in their schools will ensure that the entire community puts the interests of students front and center.

“We realize that challenges remain and we won’t rest until all of our students graduate from high school fully prepared to pursue the future they imagine for themselves. This September, I am excited to take up that challenge once more, and I am optimistic because I know that all of our brilliant educators share my mission to create a more perfect school system.”

Fariña is New York City Schools Chancellor.

Over the past few days, the New York Post (owned by Rupert Murdoch, who hates public schools and loves charter schools) has been flogging a scandal. The Post published a story by a young woman who said she got a high school diploma from a New York City public high school when she should have been failed. She hated school, she skipped classes, she should never have been allowed to graduate. Then the Post “discovered” that many students were graduating by taking “credit recovery” online classes, where they could make up for a failed course in a few weeks. In other words, the soaring graduation rates of which the Bloomberg administration boasted, are fake.

But the Post didn’t want to blame Bloomberg, whom they regularly hailed for expanding charters and cracking down on the public schools. They wanted to blame Mayor Bill de Blasio, whom they frequently ridicule as a hapless fool, and his schools chancellor, Carmen Farina.

Here is the sordid story, told by Perdidostreetschool blogger. The story is told by Harris Lirtzman, former Director of Risk Management for the New York City Retirement Systems in the NYC Comptroller’s Office from 1996-2002 and former Deputy State Comptroller for Administration from 2003-2007. Lirtzman was an untenured teacher in the Bronx from 2009-2012 and was pressured to pass unqualified students to boost the high school graduation rate to at least 70%. That was the target.

Credit recovery became widely accepted during the Bloomberg era as a way to raise graduation rates. The New York Post applauded Bloomberg’s reforms, especially charter schools, but they ignored the use of credit recovery to inflate the graduation rate. Many critics–such as Leonie Haimson–complained about credit recovery, but they were ignored by the Department of Education and the media. In 2011, she testified about credit recovery and other means of playing with data to make the graduation rate go higher. The New York Post didn’t report her testimony or show any subsequent interest in credit recovery. What the Post–or the New York Times– should do now is an in-depth investigation of credit recovery. When is it valid, when is it not? How many students rely on simple online courses to make up for semester-long or year-long courses that they failed? Which firms are profiting by supplying this quick fix? Some might justify credit recovery by saying that it is better for the student to have a high school diploma that was obtained through credit recovery than to be a dropout. If so, let’s have that discussion.

After a lengthy investigation, NYC Chancellor Carmen Farina fired the principal of John Dewey High School for faking graduation rates.

Teachers at the school had complained about the principal for years. They had also reported the fakery.

The Bloomberg administration had selected the principal Kathleen Elvin to lead the “turnaround” of 33 schools but the courts blocked the closures. She then became principal of John Dewey, where teachers frequently complained about her harsh methods.

Geoffrey Decker of NY Chalkbeat writes:

“When Kathleen Elvin took over troubled John Dewey High School in March 2012, she had a mandate to turn it around. And by at least one measure, she pulled off the job in barely two years.

“But Dewey’s soaring graduation rates, which increased 13 points under Elvin, were bolstered by an illicit credit recovery program, a city investigation has found. A long-awaited report on the probe, released Wednesday by the city’s Office of Special Investigations, concluded that Elvin supervised the set-up, in which students received credits toward graduation with no instruction from teachers.”

One of the boasts of the Bloomberg-era “reformers” was the city’s rising graduation rates. To what extent was that due to similar tactics?

Campbell’s Law rules again. When test scores or graduation rates become the basis for rewards and punishments, people go to extraordinary and sometimes unethical lengths to reach the target.

At a hearing in Albany, NYC Chancellor Carmen Farina disagreed bluntly with Governor Cuomo ‘s proposal to base 50% of teacher evaluations on student test scores and 35% on the judgement of independent evaluators, people from outside the school.

“I think 50 percent based on tests is too much,” Ms. Fariña told state legislators at a budget hearing on Tuesday, in comments that were echoed by representatives of other large school districts. “We need a human touch any time we evaluate anyone for anything.”

She also objective to the “independent evaluators.”

“Ms. Fariña said that teachers needed to be observed over time, watched for things like whether they engaged with parents or gave special attention to students who needed extra help, and that “flybys” could not replace that.”

And she added:

“There’s so many other things,” Fariña said. “I was a teacher for more than 20 years and if I was only measured in test scores, that would only have been a little bit of my work…..”

“I absolutely believe that holding teachers accountable only on test scores and outside evaluators is not a good idea,” Fariña said in response to questions about Cuomo’s plan.

Cuomo told the Buffalo News that:

“The test is really the only easy answer because it is objective numerical data and it was the same test with the same demographic,” Cuomo told a group of reporters and editors from The Buffalo News on Tuesday.”

The difference between Farina and Cuomo is that she has been a teacher, a principal, a superintendent, and now Chancellor. She is a veteran educator who knows teaching and learning. Cuomo has no experience in education but insists that he knows how teachers should be evaluated.

It is clear that he is over his head. He doesn’t know that most teachers don’t teach tested subjects. How does he propose to evaluate teachers of the arts, physical education, foreign languages, teachers of K-2, and high school teachers. It is a shame that he is unfamiliar with the extensive research on test-based accountability and VAM.

Mayor Bill de Blasio was elected as a progressive candidate. Much of his support came from critics of the Bloomberg-Klein regime and its hostility to teachers and even to public schools. The Bloomberg regime never stopped berating the system that it totally controlled for nearly a dozen years.

De Blasio selected veteran educator Carmen Farina as his chancellor, who promised to bring back “the joy of learning.” Unfortunately, the de Blasio administration has been slow to clean house. The Klein regime still controls large sectors of the education bureaucracy, including the infamous “gotcha” squad that is always on the alert for teacher misbehavior. True, the “gotcha” squad completely missed a high school teacher arrested for having sexual relations with several students at selective Brooklyn Technical High School, who is currently suspended with pay.

But the “gotcha” squad bagged a teacher who helped run a Kickstarter campaign for a student with cerebral palsy. This teacher was suspended without pay for 30 days for “theft of services,” having helped the campaign during school hours.

As Jim Dwyer, columnist for the New York Times reports:

“This is a story of an almost unfathomably mindless school bureaucracy at work: the crushing of an occupational therapist who had helped a young boy build a record of blazing success.

“The therapist, Deb Fisher, is now serving a suspension of 30 days without pay for official misconduct.

“Her crime?

“She raised money on Kickstarter for a program that she and the student, Aaron Philip, 13, created called This Ability Not Disability. An investigator with the Education Department’s Office of Special Investigations, Wei Liu, found that Ms. Fisher sent emails about the project during her workday at Public School 333, the Manhattan School for Children, and was thus guilty of “theft of services.”

“The school system has proved itself unable to dislodge failed or dangerous employees for years at a time.

“Ms. Fisher’s case seems to represent just the opposite: A person working to excel is being hammered by an investigative agency that began its hunt in search of cheating on tests and record-keeping irregularities. It found nothing of the sort. Instead, the investigation produced a misleading report, filled with holes, on the fund-raising effort.

“By omitting essential context, the report wrongly suggested that Ms. Fisher was a rogue employee, acting alone and in her own self-interest.

“In fact, the entire school, including the principal, was involved in the Kickstarter project, with regular email blasts counting down the fund-raising push. And the money was to be used not by Ms. Fisher, but by Aaron, who is writing a graphic book and making a short film about Tanda, a regular kid who is born with a pair of legs in a world where everybody else has a pair of wheels.

“Aaron has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to navigate the world. Ms. Fisher has worked with him since kindergarten.”

Chancellor Farina, it is time to fire the “gotcha” squad. It is time to replace Joel Klein’s legal team. It is time to clean house and install officials who share Mayor de Blasio’s vision and values.

New York City and Néw York State have enthusiastically embraced the Common Core standards.

In the background, however, is a simmering–one might say boiling battle between literacy guru Lucy Calkins of Teachers College and Common Core architect David Coleman about teaching reading. Calkins supports balanced literacy, Coleman supports close reading.

The city and state adopted materials based on Coleman’s model lesson about teaching the Getysburg Address by analyzing the text.

Calkins described Coleman’s model as “a horrible lesson.” She called him “an expert in branding.” She points out that Coleman is not an educator and has never taught.

NYC Chancellor Carmen Farina has experience with balanced literacy. Her support may tilt the balance to Calkins, who has a devoted following and whose work was in favor during the Klein administration when Farina was deputy chancellor.

Testing expert Fred Smith explains here why New York City Chancellor Carmen Farina should say no to the Pearson field tests.

The field tests waste instructional time. They benefit the publisher, not the students.

“Here are some arguments the chancellor could use:

*Because students know the stand-alone field tests don’t count and are of no consequence to them, they are not motivated to do well, especially in lovely June weather. This skews the data and fails to provide Pearson with reliable “intelligence” needed to furnish good exams.

*Proof that stand-alone field testing is an unworkable approach to test development lies in the poorly constructed ELA and math exams that were given in 2012 and 2013. Witness the criticism from teachers and parents across the state on both exams.

*The field tests have proceeded because the state has created a top-down system that inhibits principals and teachers from telling parents about them or seeking permission for their children to take them.

*A definitive analysis of federal legislation and state rules and regulations has found no legal basis requiring schools to give, or parents to go along with, the tests.”