michael bloomberg Archives - The Jose Vilson

michael bloomberg

Mayor Elect Bill deBlasio

Mayor Elect Bill deBlasio

As I type this, party planners will set up confetti on nets in the ceiling, soon to rain on the ardent and diverse supporters of presumed Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. NYC will have voted him in by the largest margin of any mayor in the city’s history. With a populist message and a charisma in stark contrast to current Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recent curmudgeonly press conferences, de Blasio isn’t just a candidate who stands against his predecessor, but for a clear platform that gives New York back to the blue collar workers. People have made a lot about de Blasio’s children, one of whom sports an afro akin to Questlove’s, but as powerful as imagery is, I believe people are ready for a serious change and de Blasio represents that more than the other candidates pushed to the fore.

Voting, as simple as it seems, is not enough. It never was.

When I see the history of suffrage, especially as it pertains to people of color and women, I see a struggle to get the opportunity to vote for the right candidate as conscious citizens should. I also see movements that didn’t stop at the legislative house. Whatever your particular brand of activism is, let’s have it. Having Bill de Blasio as mayor (as with any candidate the people elect) won’t be enough to enact change. Voting is but the first step in a long line of things we do from voting period to voting period.

Congratulations to the de Blasios, and I’m ecstatic about the chance to see progressivism return to the city. Maybe every municipal worker in the city will finally get a renewed contract. Yet, I also know I can’t put my feet up now that Bloomberg’s out. The political process includes voting, but it’s not the end-all-be-all. For many of us, it’s just the beginning …

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How I Might Have Intro’d The Bammy Awards

by Jose Vilson on September 24, 2013

in Jose

Secretary Arne Duncan and comedian Stephen Colbert, both of whose job I would do so much better at, but I'll stick to teaching anyways

Secretary Arne Duncan and comedian Stephen Colbert, both of whose job I would do so much better at, but I’ll stick to teaching anyways

There’s been lots of talk about this past Saturday’s Bammy Awards. I’ve written a bunch on diversity at the Bammys and even the executive producer left a comment here after our feisty discussion. However, I’ve kept mute during and after the Bammy Awards, letting others report out. As with any awards show, there were lots of bright spots and dim spots, almost all of them from people who actually attended. A discussion has erupted around the idea of humor and appropriateness in the education circle. Rather than speak on something I didn’t witness myself, I’d like a turn at introducing the Bammys. We’ll call it a do-over.

[Starts with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan welcoming everyone from his office. Insert platitudes about respect for teachers here. Zooms out where you see a black pair of pants on the left side of him. Duncan keeps talking, but as camera zooms out, audience notices Jose Vilson with "not impressed" face. Duncan keeps talking. Camera keeps zooming in to Vilson's face. Camera stops at his mouth. Vilson yells, "Welcome to the Bammyyyyyyyyssss!" with Chuck D impersonation.]

[Female voice says, "Welcome To The Bammys, with:". Reads list of every person there with a Klout score higher than 50 and other special guests, which is like everybody. She says, "Here's your host, Joseeeee Vilson!!!]

*cues up instrumental to “N-Words In Paris” by Jay-Z and Kanye West*

[Vilson runs on stage with a suit and Yankee brimmed hat]

Everybody scream!

So I teach so hard, Mayor Bloomberg wanna fire me, but first he gotta find me
What’s 50 grand to a teacher like me? That’s a lot, don’t you remind me!
(Teach so hard) I teach crazy, my teacher rating don’t even faze me
My kids could go 0 for 82 on their tests and I look at you like this job’s gravy
(Teach so hard) Teach so hard, this thing rare
We ain’t even supposed to be here!
(Teach so hard) Since we here, we might as well treat kids fair …

HA!

[Stop music]

OK, OK, OK, that was fun. Welcome everyone to the Second Annual Bammy Awards! We have a live audience today of some of the coolest kids in the sandbox gathered here today, and who better to MC this event than the guy whose faculty always pegs for the guy who’s gonna rap for karaoke? I mean, just because I know Fresh Prince’s “Summertime” by heart doesn’t mean …

Seriously, I’m OK with being one of [Vilson counts audience members] five Cocoa Puffs in a big bowl of milk. Really. I just made Errol Smith really uncomfortable. My bad, dawg.

By the way, Melinda Anderson didn’t write this one for me. I does it all by himself!

Also, I had to cut down my speech by 40% due to austerity measures. I’m doing most of this on comp time, so I’ll take a nap shortly after this.

So welcome to this set of awards. I flew in from New York City, and my arms are in fact tired. It’s been a lot of indecision over the last month. Indecision about who New York City wants for Democratic mayor, indecision over whether Obama’s gonna bomb Syria, indecision over whether I was wearing the long blue tie or the black bowtie. This is why smart men need smarter partners in their lives. And so do I. Thanks, Luz.

One thing I have decided is that, yes, Senator Ted Cruz is crazy! He’s at least worth five Buzzfeed articles and 20 GIFs. Is that like a currency now? If so, does Kenzo Shibata and the rest of the Chicago Teachers Union get to judge which ones make it from this audience? Aren’t you happy they won? Here’s a group of teachers who said, “We’re mad at hell! We want normal stuff like toilet paper for kids and open schools! Yes! We’re not gonna take it anymore!” This is where I’d make a GIF of Jonah Edelman followed by a tuba, preferably playing the “Price Is Wrong” theme song.

[Plays theme song for audience. Vilson makes fake sad face.]

You also probably noticed the inconspicuously dressed bodyguard at the door checking bags. Yes, that was Alfie Kohn scanning your bags and tossing out homework. Yes, it was. Doubt me if you must.

My friend and SLA principal Chris Lehmann’s here. You ever wonder why he smiles so much? I got the secret: he chews on his sons. I mean, Jakob and Theo never quit being adorable on Instagram. Actually, I get to judge your smiles based on how many chewable kids you have. Brand new parents tend to have the whitest teeth. It’s true.

Michael Doyle’s here. I heard him call me the greatest education blogger of all time. I know he didn’t say that, but I’ll take my award and leave anyways. Deuces! Errol’s looking at me right now like, “If this guy doesn’t stay right there …”

Mary Beth Hertz couldn’t be here, sadly. She’s a great Edutopia blogger out of Philly and she sends her regard. You’ll notice a slight change in her avatar if you’re following her on Twitter. Instead of hugging her tech tools and smiling at the camera, she’s flinging them at Mayor Nutter and every Philly school official in sight. She’s kinda angry. Right, Randi Weingarten?

John Spencer said he couldn’t be here. He says he doesn’t really wear suit and ties. Justin Timberlake does not approve.

That wasn’t funny? Scott McLeod thinks I deserve a better audience.

Audrey Watters isn’t in the audience yet. She’s at the bar drinking the Edmodo folks under the table. She deserves a badge for that.

A couple of big education books have come out recently. Invent to Learn by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager came out, which explains the increase of pterodactyls all up in your timelines. No, I’m not calling Gary Stager old. Nor a flying reptile. Just when you search for “pterodactyl” on Ye Old Encyclopedia Brittanica … goodness, don’t you dare blog about this!

Reign of Error by Diane Ravitch came out this year. It was wild. Her marketing strategy was genius! Have a ton of popular bloggers and news outlets write about her and her upcoming book on their blogs and she’d link back to them to increase the dialogue. Shortly thereafter, she introduced the book to the people who actually like her!

The hate came in droves! It’s like those people who leave flyers on your door from all the restaurants you already tried and didn’t like. Except, because she’s an education historian, she goes to her computer and writes a book about it. The rest of us aren’t always as prodigious, I assure you.

Michelle Rhee came out with a book, too, entitled Radical. Now, now, DC, no need to boo. She says she’s a radical, but really, I think she’s a square. Chuckle, chuckle, math jokes, hardy. It’s about TIME!

Is Finland in the house? Oh. Cool. Finland is the one word everyone in education agrees on. Not sure what we’re agreeing upon, but Finland seems to be synonymous with the word “good.” In my next teacher conference, I’ll just tell my students’ parents, “Oh, your child’s doing Finland, yeeaah!” “Him? He’s not doing as Finland as he could, but he’s like the US. Yes, it means he ain’t that bad, either.”

Of course, The United States has to worry about our highest needs students. Our students in poverty need wrap-around services, support, and caring environments, instead of throwing bubble sheets at them while they’re ready to pop. Sometimes, it’s like we’re Dora and Boots telling politicians “Swiper no swiping,” and every time our country races somewhere or leaves a bunch of kids behind, Swiper turns around and says, “It’s tooooo late!” [Vilson inserts Swiper voice]

But there’s hope, and I know there’s hope because we got all you beautiful people in the audience here. Applaud for yourself. Parents, thank you for chasing kids down when they’re not doing their work. Teachers, thank you for waking parents up with your morning phone calls and progress reports. Students, thank you for annoying all of us with your “Can I go to the bathroom why are we learning math aw man I don’t wanna do homework?” questions because you make us better. Thank you, all! Thank you as well to the librarians, social workers, counselors, art teachers, phys. ed. teachers, and all the other staff that people wanna keep cutting out.

Dora says, “Swiper no swiping! Swiper no swiping! Swiper no swiping!” It’s their turn to say, “Aww man!”

Lastly, we have Nancy Carlsson-Paige, education speaker, activist, teacher … and Matt Damon’s mom. You know me, I love Matt Damon. Me and him go way back to the Save Our Schools March. He offered to write a blurb for my book and it would have read, “Oh, that guy. Yes, I remember now. Cool.” We roll deep, even after we once met once.

But I have some news for him. As much as he’s lauded by some of us for his education points of view, as an actor, he missed a few subjects, so now, I have a secret for everyone:

[Cues up "I'm F*ckin Matt Damon" by Sarah Silverman]

I’m teaching Matt Damon!
[Matt Damon appears on screen to sing along] He’s teaching Matt Damon!
I’m sorry, but it’s true! I’m teaching Matt Damon!
He’s teaching Matt Damon!
I’m not imagining it’s Bill Gates, I’m teaching Matt Damon!

Teaching English, teaching math, in my classroom’s where it’s at
Got Ben Affleck on the phone and he’s playing a bat

So I’m teaching Matt Damon! He’s teaching Matt Damon!

[Ends music]

Value-add THAT! Yes, I got away with the wildest joke in edu-history!

Thank you and welcome to the Bammy Awards!

Wild applause. Standing ovations. Likes, retweets, +1s, and hollers heard round the world. A few people wonder what a Buzzfeed is. They don’t have a Klout score, as far as Vilson can tell.

Jose

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Stop And Frisk These Test Scores

by Jose Vilson on August 12, 2013

in Jose

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly

I’d rather have a tall glass of “innocent until proven guilty,” whether it’s about my standing as a citizen in NYC or my students’ test scores.

This month has been rather unsuccessful for Mayor Bloomberg and two of his political postures: his stance on stop-and-frisk and his direction in education reform. Despite what comes out of his office, everyone ought to recognize it as a major fail, and a blow to an already tarnished third term.

I can’t tell you how quickly my jaw dropped when I saw my school’s test scores. I didn’t get a glimpse of them, but when I heard only ~30% of students “passed” the English or Math test, AND that the scales were aligned to the NAEP, I knew NYC would be in some trouble. I sighed, and hoped none of my students took the drop personally. Only a handful of eight graders at my school got a 4, the highest level possible.

I can’t understand the games some adults play with their lives, especially when they tie these scores to all types of notions, including their scholarships, honors classes, and their actual ability as students.

Then I read this by Diane Ravitch and almost flung my phone at someone:

The state didn’t just “raise the bar.” It aligned its passing mark to a completely inappropriate model.

The state scores have four levels: level 4 is the highest, level 1 is the lowest. In the present scoring scheme, students who do not reach level 3 and 4 have “failed.”

NAEP has three levels: “Advanced” is the highest (only about 3-8% of students reach this level). “Proficient” is defined by the National Assessment Governing Board as “solid academic performance for each grade assessed. This is a very high level of academic achievement.”). “Basic” is “partial mastery” of the skills and knowledge needed at each grade tested.

“Proficient” on NAEP is what most people would consider to be the equivalent of an A. When I was a member of the NAEP governing board, we certainly considered proficient to be very high level achievement.

New York’s city and state officials have decided that NAEP’s “proficiency” level should be the passing mark.

They don’t understand that a student who is proficient on NAEP has attained “a very high level of academic achievement.”

And then it hit me. The fact that we can’t even compare any one year with other years for the last decade speaks volumes about the sorts of education policy we’ve encountered in NYC. To bewilder, anger, and frustrate parents, students, and educators across the city looks less like collaborative learning and more like a shakedown.

Speaking of which, a judge ruled today that “stop-and-frisk,” questioning or otherwise, is unconstitutional. I wish Bloomberg, Ray Kelly, and the NYPD would have stopped this nonsense back when we deemed it inappropriate. Despite 57% of white residents of NYC approving of stop-and-frisk, it rarely affected them. 86% of those affected were Black or Latino, and at a 12% success rate, it did more to agitate relationships between certain communities and the Giuliani-inspired police state.

In both instances, it’s very easy to blame the system for its inefficiencies, or the people who lead these systems as some politicians do. It’s more appropriate to hold the right people accountable for the direction NYC has gone in for the last decade. That’s why mayoral control ought to mean.

We can’t say the teachers didn’t teach when scores go badly and take the credit when scores get inflated. We can’t take pride in stopping and frisking Black and Latino youth, yet continually tell these communities that it’s what’s best for them. The citizens of NYC demand respect, as parents, as citizens, as people seeking a better way.

As a person affected by both of these initiatives, I thought to myself, “What if we stopped frisking my students and stopped and frisked education reformers with quick fix disaster plans coming into our public schools? What if we created environments that cared for our most disenfranchised?”

In the meantime, I implore all of you reading to stop and frisk those test scores. You might find, as Bloomberg did, nothing at all.

 

Jose

p.s. – photo courtesy of http://www.wnyc.org/i/620/372/c/80/photologue/photos/bloomberg-and-kelly-at-ground-zero__.jpg

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Short Notes: What Exactly Is Emancipation?

June 23, 2013 Short Notes

A few notes: My latest post at The Collaborateurs talks about my own journey as an alternative certification teacher to where I am now. [CTQ] Phillippe Copeland questions the meaning of Juneteenth, especially when there are more black men incarcerated than were enslaved back then. Just saying. [GOOD] Diane Ravitch’s latest target is Michael Bloomberg, […]

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John Legend and the Well-Meaning Corporatists

March 13, 2013 Jose
Davis Guggenheim, John Legend, Michelle Rhee

Last Wednesday, Huffington Post Education’s Twitter feed tweeted this out: John Legend: out to save schools? huff.to/14pCkEs — HuffPostEducation (@HuffPostEdu) March 7, 2013 In the pithiest attempt at a response, I said “From what?” After a more thorough read on all the school board races around the country, I noticed a disturbing trend of pundits […]

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Top 10 List Of Things To Do For NYC Teachers Going To Work On Friday

November 1, 2012 Jose

NYC schools are officially closed on Friday … for students. For teachers, Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott sent out a memo to all teachers and administrators to go back to school on Friday. The cynical me remembers the few days in the school year when I tell my students they don’t have school but I […]

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