Monday, September 28, 2009

Michael Bloomberg: Right is Might and Might is Right

A few years ago Chancellor Klein came to my school to explain how, once again, Bloomberg was going to restructure the Department of Education. In the question and answer session, someone asked if there were elected representatives present. Klein responded that he was the appointed representative of the elected representative, Mayor Bloomberg. The next question was: shouldn’t we have input from city council members and state legislators before we restructure the DOE yet again? What about the democratic process? Klein said that the democratic process was a big waste of time. We had elected Bloomberg, and Bloomberg had Mayoral Control—voted in by the State Assembly. Enough democratic process already. See you next election.

I remember that first election, which took place just after 9/11. Bloomberg spent millions of dollars of his own money and said that we should vote for him because he didn’t owe any favors to special interests. Giuliani made a half-hearted attempt to convince everybody that he should run for a third term given the emergency situation. That idea flew like a 200-pound pigeon. New Yorkers had already voted in two separate referendums that they wanted term limits. “The voters have spoken,” said Bloomberg.

As soon as Bloomberg was elected, there was a media Blitzkrieg against NYC teachers and our union. It would seem that everything wrong about the Board of Education was our fault. But never fear, the Bloomberg cavalry was riding to the rescue of the poor children. During the first couple of years there were occasional articles in the mainstream media that criticized Bloomberg. Gradually, all criticism disappeared, except on the blogosphere.

I find this fascinating. I have lived in New York City for more than 30 years. New Yorkers are feisty and all synonyms thereof: spiritied, active, alive, bubbly, courageous, difficult, enthusiastic, excitable, fiery, frisky, full of pep, game, gritty, gutsy, lively, mettlesome, ornery, quarrelsome, scrappy, sensitive, spunky……

But nobody has anything bad to say about Bloomberg. No jokes, no cartoons, no nasty articles, no political snipes from the opposition—No Opposition.

Bloomberg, according to Wikipedia, is the eighth richest American with a net worth of 16 billion dollars. That’s his personal wealth. He is also in total and absolute control of the entire budget of New York City—another 40 billion.

That’s a lot of power and a lot might—and it makes Michael Bloomberg absolutely right—or else.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stage One: You're Right Because You're Powerful

A person at Stage One believes that Right is Might.

Individuals at this stage are obedience and punishment driven. They focus on the direct consequences of their actions on themselves. For example, an action is perceived as morally wrong because the perpetrator is punished. "The last time I did that I got spanked so I will not do it again." The worse the punishment for the act is, the more "bad" the act is perceived to be. Innocent victims are seen as guilty in proportion to their suffering. The Stage One person is "egocentric", lacking recognition that others' points of view are different from one's own. They defer to people with superior power or prestige.

According to Kohlberg, we have all begun at level one at around three or four years of age. Many of us have progressed upwards through subsequent stages, one at time. Movement is always “forward in sequence and does not skip steps”. However, there is no guarantee that we will reach the highest stages. Some people might find themselves frozen at one stage and may not progress from there. For example Kohlberg places the Nazi war criminal, Adolph Eichmann, at Stage One and Two.

According to Kohlberg, one does not regress. Once you’ve reached a stage you cannot fall back. He estimated that only 5 to 10 percent of the adult population consistently operates at Stage Six.

What does that mean for the person who is being falsely accused by a Stage One child?

A Stage-One child may see any adult interviewer as being an authority worthy of obeying. For example, a child told an experimenter that he would change his mind if the interviewer wanted him to because “you have all the answers in the back of the book.” A student at Stage One might see a Principal, Assistant Principal, or SCI Investigator as having all the answers and might change his/her eyewitness account because it does not coincide with the opinion of the adult power figure. This child will not be questioned by the teacher’s representative until months or even years later. When this finally happens, the child’s testimony often falls apart.


1. Videotape all interviews with all witnesses.
2. Allow the teacher’s representative (I am not talking about the union representative) to question witnesses as soon as allegations have been made—not years later.
3. Assess the stage of moral development of all witnesses.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


On pages 106-111 the work of Lawrence Kohlberg is mentioned. I vaguely remember reading somewhere about the Six Stages of Moral Development, but until I read this book, I had forgotten all about this theory. However, it has taken on special meaning in my present circumstances. I will quote directly from the book:
“According to Kohlberg (1981, pp17-19) people pass through six stages of moral development:

The physical consequences of action determine its goodness or badness.
Avoidance of punishment and unquestioning deference to power are valued in their own right.

Right action consists of that which instrumentally satisfies one’s needs and occasionally the needs of others.
Reciprocity is a matter of “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”

Good behavior is that which pleases or helps others and is approved by them.

There is an orientation toward authority, fixed rules, and the maintenance of social order.
Right behavior consists of showing respect to authority.

Right actions tend to be defined in terms of general individual rights and in terms of standards that have been critically examined and agreed on by the whole of society.

Right is defined by the decision of conscience in accord with self chosen ethical principles appealing to logical comprehensiveness, universality, and consistency.

What stage do you think BLOOMBERG is opearating at? At what stage does he demand that LEADERSHIP ACADEMY PRINCIPALS perform? At what stage do LEADERSHIP ACADEMY PRINCIPALS demand that TEACHERS perform?
How about SCI INVESTIGATORS? At what stage are they performing when they do their investigations? How about HEARING OFFICERS and ARBITRATORS?



Oh, Sooooooo Lucky

People who have never been in the Rubber Room might think that it’s a great deal. You get paid for sitting there and doing nothing all day. Of course, anyone with some knowledge of human psychology knows that it’s not a great deal. Take any normal human being, put him in a room by himself with nothing to do, keep him there for days and months on end, and he will eventually go crazy. Paying him doesn’t make it OK. He is being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

“But”, say the Butt-Heads who think the Rubber Room is a great deal, “You’re not in a room all by yourself. You have other teachers who are in the same situation. And you are an educated person. Take advantage of the situation: Read, have nice conversations with the people around you, take a nap, play card games… write the Great American Novel. As long as you’re there, you’re getting full pay and benefits, and you’re building up your pension. You could be on the street without a job, unable to meet your mortgage payments, and about to lose your house like so many other people in America right now.”

When reminded of starving people, it’s hard to refuse to eat your liver.

So I’ll eat it, but I’ll still hate it.

For the duration of my time in the Rubber Room, I will not be writing about my experience in the Rubber Room on this blog-- Although, trust me, I am keeping a detailed daily journal. No, this blog will remain true to its original intention, which is to shine light on the incompetent, corrupt, and criminally abusive Bloomberg Department of Education, and the Butt-Heads that keep it alive.

In order to do this, I need more background knowledge. I am researching the topics of “scapegoating”, “mobbing”, “false allegations”, “lynching”, and the “holocaust” to name a few. As I read about these subjects, I will apply the information to the Bloomberg DOE in general, and my situation in particular.

At the moment, I am reading Inaccuracies in Children’s Testimony: Memory, Suggestibility, or Obedience to Authority? By Jon’a F. Meyer published by Haworth Press, Inc. 1997.