Monday, November 06, 2006

Skata Nafas, Anthony Alvarado

aka, Marty Cohen, the leader of the evil axis, (disguised as progressive) that is destroying public education wherever it spreads its virus. This from an excellent 5/05 article by Norman Scott, from The Wave, a local Rockaway paper (Here's a link to the entire article) :"The recent resurfacing of former New York City chancellor and District 2 (central and southern Manhattan schools) Superintendent Anthony Alvarado as executive director of the City Council’s Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) commission (created by City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Gifford Miller) does not lack significance. Just about everyone I speak to – parents and teachers – who worked in District 2, are not happy. Alvarado is viewed as the architect of the policies currently being implemented in New York City schools. Alvarado left New York’s District 2 in 1998 when the newly appointed San Diego Superintendent Alan Bersin, a federal prosecutor in the Clinton administration, hired him as Chancellor of Instruction. Bersin recently resigned (most say forced out) after years of controversy and last week was appointed Commissioner of Education in California by Governor Schwarzenegger. That the current NYC Chancellor Joel Klein has the same background as Bersin (both also non-educators) and that there are similarities between Klein’s former lead instructor Diana Lam (also forced out under a cloud) and Alvarado (forced out in San Diego in Sept. ’03) is no coincidence. Before he ran District 2, Alvarado resigned as New York City chancellor in 1984 after a brief tenure over some personal monetary difficulties. At the time, progressive educators felt the loss of Alvarado as chancellor in NYC was a tragedy for the system and that it never recovered as a succession of chancellors followed in his wake. I joined the chorus in excusing his indiscretions and remained a fan throughout his early tenure in District 2, viewing him as a very impressive and passionate educator. In later years, an uglier story began to be told. The ending of Bersin’s recent tenure in San Diego has brought the impact of the Bersin-Alvarado partnership back into the news. When Joel Klein became NYC chancellor one of his first acts was to jump on a plane and head to San Diego. The system he put into place parallels the San Diego story – déjà vu all over again – and again. Alvarado made his bones nationally by raising scores dramatically in District 2, the most affluent district in the city, which some critics contend minimizes that achievement when demographics are taken into account. This led to the San Diego gig, where he engineered enormous changes throughout the system that New York educators will recognize: massive doses of professional development at great expense, literacy and math coaches, a strictly managed top-down system minimizing teacher input, the Workshop model imposed on all teachers, the use of Teachers College concepts of teaching, hiring high-priced consultants from outside, ignoring any semblance of parental input, a strict cloaking device to keep information from flowing out of schools, a massive public relations operation to put a good face on everything, and of course, attempting to minimize the influence of the union.
The model of separating instruction from operations and the use of sub-superintendents (LIS’s) may have also been field tested in San Diego on a much smaller scale.
Money spent on class size reduction was minimal (other than that required by the California class-size reduction law), as Alvarado has always placed the emphasis on teacher training. .....
The Alvarado philosophy in a nutshell.
“ Fear Motivation: Many experienced principals have elected to leave the district in fear of humiliation [after 15 principals were removed and faced the use of police escorts and public humiliation.]
“Teacher Training: From the get go [teachers] were told to just do what they were told. They were going to have to give up what they had found worked for them without any tryout and evaluation period at all!
“Public Input: …community meetings had massive opposition to the [Alvarado] plan, but comments by parents, teachers and others were mostly ignored.
“Top-down or else: ...Alan(Bersin) and Tony became the Czars of reform. Alan the lawyer reverted to his prosecutorial mode. He had a client, Tony ...and he was charged to make what Tony decided happen. Alan simply didn’t have the educational background to decide the issues for himself.
“Know-it-alls from everywhere: Another issue is the constant importation of consultants (at high per diem cost) to lecture teachers on instruction. The best staff development is observation, followed by hands on practice, not lectures! The staff could surely use the money to support teachers’ observations of effective instruction instead. We have enough local success stories and expert teachers whose talents and accomplishments are being ignored. Everyone I represent agrees that they are in a top-down, inflexible, take-it or leave-it mode.
“ Angry troops, False Claims, Moving Administrators: A highly trumpeted part of the [Alvarado] Blueprint eliminated administration from the Ed Center to move personnel to the schools, but unfortunately the switch created more people looking over the shoulders of teachers instead of more people teaching! In fact if the plan was to shift these personnel to reduce class size in upper grades I would have been eager to support it. If we did that, we would have class sizes of 20 throughout all crucial elementary grades! And all these experts would be in the classroom where they would be able to demonstrate rather than preach! Over 93% of the teachers voted no confidence for the superintendent and his program!

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