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Betsy Combier

Help Us to Continue to Help Others »

The E-Accountability Foundation announces the

'A for Accountability' Award

to those who are willing to whistleblow unjust, misleading, or false actions and claims of the politico-educational complex in order to bring about educational reform in favor of children of all races, intellectual ability and economic status. They ask questions that need to be asked, such as "where is the money?" and "Why does it have to be this way?" and they never give up. These people have withstood adversity and have held those who seem not to believe in honesty, integrity and compassion accountable for their actions. The winners of our "A" work to expose wrong-doing not for themselves, but for others - total strangers - for the "Greater Good"of the community and, by their actions, exemplify courage and self-less passion. They are parent advocates. We salute you.

Winners of the "A":

Johnnie Mae Allen
David Possner
Dee Alpert
Aaron Carr
Harris Lirtzman
Hipolito Colon
Larry Fisher
The Giraffe Project and Giraffe Heroes' Program
Jimmy Kilpatrick and George Scott
Zach Kopplin
Matthew LaClair
Wangari Maathai
Erich Martel
Steve Orel, in memoriam, Interversity, and The World of Opportunity
Marla Ruzicka, in Memoriam
Nancy Swan
Bob Witanek
Peyton Wolcott
[ More Details » ]
Joel Klein's Performance Review
The E-Accountability Foundation's review based on statements from parents, teachers, Regional supervisors, and other City employees and taxpayers from September 2002. Mr. Klein has no contract, but is an 'at will' employee of the City of New York. Rating: U; Recommendation: Resignation or Termination.
           by Betsy Combier

We have been talking with parents, teachers, Principals, Regional personnel of the New York City Department of Education, the Office of Legal Services, retired Superintendents, Special Education evaluators and other personnel at all levels within the NYC DOE - yes, they are talking - and others who have worked for, presently work for, or are volunteers for the DOE, and we are horrified at the actions of Chancellor Joel Klein. Almost all of the people who have offered concrete proof of Joel Klein's actions have called us late at night, and they whisper into the telephone the information. As Mr. Klein does not have a contract and is an "At Will" employee of the Mayor, how can we hold him accountable for anything? By voting out Mayor Bloomberg.

We believe that Joel Klein should not continue as Chancellor of the nation's largest school system for the following reasons:

1. He listens to no one outside of his tight circle of friends, all of whom are earning huge salaries while our children are not given the services and resources they need to be challenged and to achieve their personal bests. He allows his staff to use taxpayer money for emergency equipment and sirens on their cars; he allowed Diana Lam's husband to obtain a job in a Bronx High School because he "doesn't second guess"; he allowed Deputy Chancellor Anthony Shorris to moonlight every thursday at Local 1199 for an additional $60,000 and stopped this illegal activity only when the press caught him, even as Mr. Shorris was telling City Council that there is no money to buy defibrillators for our schools, and New York City must violate the law for this reason; he stonewalls any request for information on anything, and buys curricula that penalizes the city, as he did in his decision to use Month-by-month phonics and establish the math curricula as TERC, CMP and Connected Math, or "fuzzy" math. See "Bruce Winokur, New York City Math Teacher, Fights Against the Fuzzy Math Folk, the Mayor and Chancellor"; and my daughter's cry for help when she was 9 years old: WHY TERC? Asks a 9 year old, Who Questions the Value of 'Fuzzy Math' For Her Future Academic Goals.

Every grievance sent to him by a parent is either never answered or answered by his Chief Counsel or someone at the Office of Legal Affairs months after a response would be expected, and almost always the person filing the grievance is attacked in the response, a violation of the Chancellor's Regulations.

2. He has shown disdain for any parent who asks questions, as we can see from Newsday that parents were not even told about a secret school being placed in Riverdale, District 10:

Parents claim Klein shuts them out
BY MARIANNA HERNANDEZ, Newsday, April 23, 2004

When a curious parent in the Bronx showed Randi Martos a pamphlet about a new school opening in their Riverdale district, Martos was outraged.

As president of the District 10 Parent's Association, Martos thought she should have been consulted about a decision that she said affects her district as well as the future of a school she has helped to shape for more than seven years.

Kingsbridge Riverdale Academy, MS/HS 141, the only high school in Riverdale that merges middle school and high school, has been troubled by overcrowding for three years because MS 368 has been sharing the academy's space while its new building is built.

With MS 368 scheduled to move this fall to its new home, many in District 10 had their own ideas about how to use the freed-up space at Kingsbridge.

Ray Noberto, 43, a recording secretary at the academy, said, "We were just discussing placing early childhood education into the available annex, when the Board of Education is issuing a notice of a school being put there."

District officials and parents said they didn't learn about the plan by the Department of Education until last week, when the pamphlet advertising the "Fun Math School" surfaced. At a rally Friday on the steps of the Tweed Courthouse Friday, they said they should have been consulted before a decision was made.

The Department of Education and the mayor's office declined to comment.

Martos and Noberto were joined at the rally by Assemb. Jeffrey Dinowitz, Rep. Eliot Engel, Councilman Oliver Koppell and State Senator Eric Schneiderman.

"It's shocking that the administration would advocate for such a bad idea and do it in such secrecy," Dinowitz said. "Community input, parental involvement and an open, public process have been totally discarded by the chancellor."

Joan Kuzniar, 48, co-president of the Parent's Association at PS 81 in District 10, said, "While we are spending millions of dollars on programs involving parents, we are taking away their voice in the very matters of education."

A parent, Glen, asked that the Chancellor stop putting cell phone antennas on top of our city's schools, but Mr. Klein would not listen, despite Glen's extensive research on the dangers of this practice. Klein, we believe, wanted to make money by selling the rights. Glen caught him trying to railraod a vote in Staten Island at a PEP meeting, and the program was tabled, for now.

3. There are almost no special education services being supplied throughout the city, and parents are being pushed aside by the Chancellor and all those who work for him. This is, indeed, a violation of Federal laws. School psychologists and educrats who are supposed to give recommendations for IEPs have been told to recommend nothing. How many students in our city schools are "push-outs" because they need special services, and the DOE does not want to give them anything? What percentage of full-inclusion children are not listed on the roster of the schools they attend, so that the school report card does not reflect their performance data? We know that children receiving special education services are not graduating ("NYC's Appalling Graduation Crisis of Children Receiving Special Education Services") and thousands are suspended from their schools unfairly every year (upcoming parentadvocates' report, due summer, 2005).

We do not know the answers to these questions, but what we do know is that Joel Klein does not want us to ask them, and will prevent us from, as well as attack us, for asking. The Chancellor punishes the parent by having DOE personnel deny Federal, State and City funds to the children saying, basically, "Your child does not need it", "The money is not in the budget", or, hire a lawyer and go to an Impartial Hearing. Indeed, a parent of a special needs child cannot hold a job and fight for the child's rights at the same time. 99% of parents who need a lawyer cannot get one or pay the legal fees. Michael Best, Chief Counsel to the New York City Board of Education, told us that the BOE has signed contracts with Legal Aid agencies in New York for criminal proceedings.

4. Everything that happens at Tweed is secret. "Consultants" are hired without anyone knowing; secret schools are set up, curricula and personnel decisions are made, and contracts are signed, all behind closed doors. Anyone who does not like it is fired or "resigns", a favored term. The fact that governments all work this way does not excuse Mr. Klein's disdain for sharing any information. Parents know that their children are not getting the services and resources they are supposed to, even to the point of not having working bathrooms. No consultant, no matter how terrific, is more important than a child's health and welfare. We believe that the education department must be open to the public, and it's data not kept secret as if it were a matter of national securiity.

5. There is no strategic planning or management. Police were sent into our city's schools in order to keep our children in control after the media picked up several incidents. We believe that to send in this type of force without trying anger management, negotiation, teacher training techniques and honesty and respect, is inappropriate. Joel Klein has set up an unjust and prejudiced system of abuse and harassment of minority and special education students that is criminalizing children. The policy of "fixing broken windows" should never be used in situations involving children, who need opportunities to explain circumstances leading up to incidences of violence. Joel Klein's policies give no one a second chance because one tiny infraction, he believes, could lead to major destruction. His modus operandi is to use the Office of School Suspensions to dump these children out of their schools and into alternative sites or Second Opportunity (S.O.S.)Schools. The data from these schools shows that only 1.1% of the students are white, teachers are absent more than 29% of the time, and 1% of the students are tested. How do these schools meet No Child Left Behind criteria? He has joined up with the police and the Office of Special Investigations to make sure that accurate information about incidents are not given any weight at suspension hearings.

6. Another example is the 3rd grade retention plan, railroaded into policy without the supporting elements to make it work. When policy is not designed appropriately, money is wasted, meetings are disrupted, and the issue becomes the antagonism between groups rather than what is best for the children. We should all be in a conversation about policy, policy implementation, and how to put the needs of children first, and this is the foremost problem with the Klein/Bloomberg administration. No one is talking to anyone, and no one is listening to anyone. The children suffer because of this.

7. New York City's schools are segregated, even though Brown v Board of Education supposedly changed everything 50 years ago. Not in New York. African-American Benjamin Tucker, appointed by Klein to oversee the management of school violence, quit without comment in the Fall (2004). Minority children in the nation's largest school system deserve to have an education that is equal in every way to that of white children, dont they Mr. Klein? We brought you the unfortunate situation at Booker T. Washington Middle School 54, where segregation is maintained as well as violations of IDEA, Special Education law. You have not responded in any way.

7. Joel Klein supports Charter Schools, and believes that the public school system is a terrible place to get an education. Then why is he Chancellor - shouldn't he be starting his own charter school?

8. Something must be said about the teacher abuse going on in New York City. Teachers despise the new system that mandates a 10-minute instruction period and the rest of the classtime spent watching the children try to figure out what learning they are supposed to be doing. Shame on you Mr. Klein!. Teacher/journalist Ron Isaac tells it like it is:

by Ron Isaac,

"At a public junior high school in District 26, which has consistently scored within the top 5% of New York City schools, a teacher was lately formally reprimanded because she taught punctuation. A letter was placed in her personnel file memorializing her mistake. Her error was not that she didn't
go about teaching it correctly but that she covered the topic at all.
At that same school another teacher was lately scolded because she told her class that spelling counts. The supervisor was upheld in her ruling that because spelling is not in the curriculum, it has no place in the classroom among the criteria for evaluation, called "rubrics," as posted by mandate in every classroom.

Multiply this sort of nonsense by hundreds of thousands of pieces of anecdotal evidence from fourteen hundred schools daily and the public may begin to appreciate the bleakness of the educational landscape.
At a similar school in neighboring District 25, which has had since the 1970s an unbroken rank within the highest-performing five of the thirty-two school districts, a teacher asked his "intellectually gifted" ninth grade students what they knew about Stalin, Darwin, Freud, Churchill, Marx, and Einstein. A few students knew that Einstein had something to do with science. Not a single student had ever heard the name of any of the others. Again, let the public extrapolate and despair.

Administrators and supervisors on the school-level are not necessarily supportive of this desertion of standards, but they, like teachers, are also in the line of the Chancellor's fire, and where the pull of self-interest meets the tug of conscience, it is usually conscience that lets go.

In the present climate it is a delicate balance between doing what is right and what is safe as a supervisor. Few supervisors have the integrity to walk that tightrope. We may ask but not expect them to risk the fall.

An ambitious self-styled 'CEO" exemplifies the new breed of principal. According to "," the "independent guide to New York City schools," this head of a school in Region 3, Queens, New York, said, "I told the teachers, 'the train is going one way. I hope you'll be on it'". From locomotive to caboose, that train is the "uniform citywide curriculum". It is not really a syllabus, but rather the creed behind the abysmal illiteracy that is locking a generation into dependence and locking them out of discovery.

The word "progressive" is a buzzword for "non-traditional." Calling something "progressive" doesn't make it so any more than calling a communist or fascist state a "democratic republic" makes it such. Educators who call themselves "progressive" regard tradition as the enemy. Under the current Department of Education they are in charge and here is just a sampling of their mischief: The reading of novels is banned in some middle schools in prestigious Region 3, which is one of the less oppressive environments generally. No child will hear an authorized mention of Dickens, Hemingway, or Joyce while on DOE property. Throughout New York, elementary schools are tossing brand-new dictionaries out with the trash for garbage collectors or scavengers. Dictionaries are associated with the tyranny of tradition.

Asking students to memorize multiplication tables, find nations on a globe, or identify New York's tunnels and bridges and the places they connect, have all been treated as serious offenses by school administrators executing the new cult of "progressivism." Teachers have been drawn up on charges for
extending a dramatic recitation one minute beyond the mandated six- hundred second daily "Read Aloud." All of these invidious vignettes combined are like one grain of sand relative to all the sand of the world's collective beaches.

In their heart of hearts, many veteran supervisors who came to the fore when it was necessary for supervisors to know their stuff, probably feel guilty for enforcing this hogwash, but it is common in history for people to trade-off unworldly integrity for worldly advancement. Standing on principle doesn't pay the bills. But if the education of their own flesh and blood were at stake they would quit rationalizing.
Ironically, there has never been such a negative match between supervisor's power to rule and their prowess to judge. Crossing them by using the chalkboard, having desks in rows, or correcting in red ink, has gotten expert teachers removed from the classroom for insubordination. No matter that according to the New York Times, citing a Columbia University report, "school administrators typically had substantially lower scores on the Graduate Record Examination than the teachers they supervise."

In record numbers teachers are being rating "unsatisfactory" on their annual performance review. Often this has career-threatening implications. Many of the victims have thirty years of continuous unblemished service. During these decades they were incessantly observed and not a fault uncovered. The sky fell in on them only because they resisted the Stalinist "progressivism" of Chancellor Klein and his axis.
In a large percentage of cases, historically, these "unsatisfactory ratings" and many other adverse actions taken against teachers for a variety of reasons were frequently found to be without merit and overturned. Now hearing officers summarily dismisses all allegations of injustice made by teachers. Balance and civility have fled the adjudication process. There is no viable mechanism of redress for master teachers condemned for such violations as failure to festoon the walls with charts for superintendents and other occasional tourists to marvel at.

Force-feeding a fraudulent curriculum, starving the system of enlightened dissent, strangling whistleblowers, gorging mindless despots with absolute power, and disemboweling the antidote of due process is what Chancellor Klein means by 'Children First.'"

Chancellor Klein, Please resign.

Betsy Combier

© 2003 The E-Accountability Foundation