Saturday, January 30, 2010
Good morning Chancellor Klein, members of the Panel and members of the public. First, I want to thank my colleagues, parents and everybody at the DOE for their dedicated time on this delicate, but necessary topic. I've dedicated many hours to this matter. I listened to the community outcry during their public hearings. I held parent meetings in Queens in order to get a better understanding of the school community concerns and the effect this decision would have on those Queens communities. It was important to understand the topic in order to make an informed decision.
As many of you know, I take my role seriously, and have done so since being first appointed to this board 2 years ago.
I believe that is why I was selected by Borough President, Helen Marshall, to serve as her representative and the communities' advocate during these public meetings.
We are here, whether appointed by the mayor or by different borough presidents, and together we face monthly decisions that at the end of the day affect more than a million students. We need to be mindful of that role, whether it's in front of a standing room auditorium, or in the near empty rooms that are far more common for these meetings.
Our task is still the same.
To safeguard student interests without making a hasty decision.
I don't believe that simply following the letter of the law is what was expected of the Department when our state elected officials called for hearings on these major matters of concern.
I don't believe the intent of that legislation was for a DOE official to sit in the front of the room, simply to let those most affected vent their frustrations.
I also don't believe the intent was for families and community members to have none of their concerns addressed, while answering none of their questions.
That can't be what the legislature envisioned these school hearings to be.
Communication is a key component to a successful proposal and listening goes along way too… The DOE needed to consult and listen to those who would be most affected by these proposals.
"Listen" means to "hear," but also to digest and to allow the information to have an affect on our opinions and thought process.
I went to those school hearings to do just that.
And I believe I did.
There very well may come a time when I will raise my hand in support of one of these schools being closed.
But I am not there yet, not because I think closing a school should never be a considered choice, but because I think in order to get to that point, we must first ensure it is THE LAST CHOICE.
And, so Mr. Chairman, on behalf of Queens and the Borough President, tonight I vote No and urge my colleagues to do the same.
Panel for Educational Policy
Borough President Appointee
Friday, January 29, 2010
State Education Department eyes closure of Newtown High School
BY Clare Trapasso
DAILY NEWS WRITER
Friday, January 29th 2010, 11:35 AM
More Queens high schools are facing the axe - this time, wielded by the state.
But, students, alumni and community members vowed on Wednesday to fight the possible closure of Newtown High School in Elmhurst - one of 10 Queens high schools the state Education Department has deemed "persistently lowest achieving."
"This is not a done deal," vowed state Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D-East Elmhurst), who rallied the crowd at an impassioned meeting in the 113-year-old school's auditorium.
Those on the state's hit list of 34 schools citywide have four options: They can be turned around by replacing the principal and half of the staff; transformed by rewarding staff who boost student achievement; become charter schools or simply shut down.
"We identified those schools whose performance in English, language arts and mathematics were the lowest in the state and failed to show progress or schools who have had graduation rates below 60%," said Ira Schwartz, the state Education Department's assistant commissioner for accountability.
Action plans could be due by late spring.
"The bottom line is we need to create new programs for students that will result in increased graduation rates," Schwartz said.
Newtown Principal John Ficalora blamed his school's 53% four-year graduation rate on the fact that his students hail from 100 countries and speak 59 languages. This, he said, makes it difficult for many of them to graduate on time.
Richmond Hill High School Principal Frances De Sanctis was saddened when she learned her school was also in jeopardy.
"We're already in transformation here," she said.
The school went from earning an "F" on the city progress reports in 2008 to a "C" last year.
The other Queens schools on the list are Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood, Queens Vocational-Technical High School in Long Island City, Flushing High School, August Martin High School in Jamaica, Beach Channel High School in Rockaway Beach, John Adams High School in Ozone Park, Jamaica High School and Long Island City High School.
Beach Channel and Jamaica are already slated for closure by the city.
With Darren Tobia
That global capitalist economy is over now. Why? For one, because globalization was so successful in its brief heyday. It penetrated every market on the planet. It stomped out the Soviet Union and took control of the Russian economy. And who ever imagined China, closed off to the West not thirty years ago, could become the largest market for a big-ticket consumer good like automobiles in 2009? For another, globalization found the absolute lowest wage possible in the undeveloped world. The profit addicts bumped right up against outright slavery and where possible went over the edge. Today more human beings are in bondage than anytime in human history.
But the system's success exhausted the possibilities for growth. And growth is its lifeblood. Growth kept it healthy and dynamic. When that growth became impossible capitalism turned inward. It began feeding on itself. That's when Wall Street turned Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers and the other investment banks into casinos. That's when M.I.T. trained mathematicians were summoned to make investment vehicles into computer generated logarithms beyond human comprehension. Since no more real wealth was being created the bankers were forced to resort to alchemy, in the form of derivatives, to give the appearance of wealth creation. Meanwhile, the truly productive corporate entities, even the largest of them, began being interned. R.I.P General Motors!
The other thing a global economy had to have if it was going to work was a plentiful and cheap supply of oil. If the world is not now on the downside of the Peak Oil curve, its close enough for government work in the US, China, India, Russia, the EU. Rulers in these developed and developing countries have begun to act along those lines. For instance, the US won't be getting out of the Middle East anytime soon because it is a major source of a dwindling world oil supply. US military presence there has nothing to do with politician's silly bleatings over "underwear bombers" or terrorism. And for another instance, economic nationalism, in the form of US tariffs on Chinese steel to give one example, is the wave of the future. Globalization cannot withstand the end of free trade or oil driven trade but it faces both simultaneously. It will crash and burn as a result.
A US soldier or two, away from the harrowing places they have been sent to secure oil, given time to consider, has probably wondered why their government has contracted with Blackwater now Xe-type mercenaries at ten times the price to pull duties once assigned to them. It is completely absurd on its face. The product of a hidden agenda is always absurdity. Globalization, which seeks privatization of all things, is that agenda.
Teachers across this country have come to live everyday with this absurdity. Incessant testing with no relation to the real world, the mindless collection of trivia classified as data, forcing a "business model" like Enron or Lehman Brothers or General Motors on the public schools, driving the arts and the social sciences out of the curriculum, and watching every Chancellor, Superintendent, Commissioner, and Secretary of Education promote charter schools over their own public schools at every turn. Absurd! But again the product of a hidden agenda is always absurdity.
Because we are bombarded with it by the corporate media, there is the temptation to believe the global economy will enjoy a "recovery" and the US will visit even greater heights of material prosperity. This is a delusion that is being foisted on the American people. It's part of a scam. There is no rational reason for this system to be revived and there are oligarchs, and people at Goldman Sachs, and people in the US government and military that know this. They have left behind some functionaries in the public schools, "dead-enders" like Michelle Rhee in Washington D.C. and Joel Klein in NYC to soldier on with the corporate catechism. They have not bothered to demobilize the cults created to undermine the public schools; Teach For America, Green Dot and KIPP charter schools, but the true believers and their cults are no longer a credible threat.
The new danger appears in the rise of the seamless melding of the corporation and the state in the US. The corporate-state was certified as constitutional by the US Supreme Court in its recent decision on corporate campaign financing. The new reality is reflected in the unprecedented amount of money Secretary of Education Arne Duncan suddenly has at his disposal to undermine the public schools. Duncan has put the 50 states in a competition he calls the Race To The Top, to become the most effective at destroying public education and advancing the charter school movement. Duncan will spread over $4-billion among the "winning" states. The denial of funds is expected to finish off public education in the "losing" states.
Some people are confused as to why President Obama's education policy is indistinguishable from that of George W. Bush. Well both are either willing servants or hostages of the same masters. In the transition from one administration to the next the bankers takeover of the US treasury never missed a beat. The military, one of the pillars of the corporate-state, allowed President Obama the public perception of choice on Afghanistan. But Gen. Stanley McCrystal was ordering not requesting more troops. Another pillar of the corporate-state, the insurance companies and pharmaceuticals, have humored Obama with the idea they would allow national health care reform. They've tired of the theatrics and ordered up Scott Brown in Massachusetts the other day to bring the curtain down on it.
In regards to the public schools and every other vestige of democracy in US society the corporate-state is the last stage where fighting back will be possible. Next comes the national curriculum from Winston Smith's world. It's resistance now or never.
Paul A. Moore
Public School Teacher
Monday, January 25, 2010
January 24, 2010
Contact: Norman Siegel at 347-907-0867, Julie Cavanagh at 917-838-6465
Last Thursday afternoon, January 21, on E. 79 St., across from the mayor’s mansion, parents, students and teachers peacefully protested against the Bloomberg Administration’
Meanwhile, a reporter on the scene caught on videotape the actions of police who were taking photographs of the protesters from the roof and inside a private school across the street. In 1985, the federal court ruled that it is illegal and a violation of civil rights for the New York City police to take photos of protesters, unless they have cause to believe that a crime may be committed. The city signed a consent agreement that year, restricting police surveillance according to these rules, called the Handschu Guidelines. In the case of this peaceful protest, there was no such cause. The video is available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.
The protesters are asking for a full explanation as to why the pictures were taken and how the police plan to use the photos. The protestors also want to know whether any videotaping of them was done. Finally, they are considering filing a complaint with Judge Charles S. Haight Jr., the federal judge who has continuing jurisdiction over the enforcement of the Handschu Guidelines.
Lydia Bellahcene, a parent at PS 15 in Red Hook Brooklyn where the DOE is proposing an extension of a charter school co-location, said, “Mayor Bloomberg and his cohorts can not be allowed to dismantle public education. I am outraged that there was this kind of surveillance at a peaceful protest of mothers and others. We broke no laws, and the NYPD should not be allowed to violate the laws for Mayor Bloomberg’s benefit either. The mayor and the NYPD should get used to these protests, because I and mothers across the city will be doing it again.”
Rachel Ali, student at Maxwell High School, said: “Major Bloomberg has gone too far! He is being undemocratic in his actions as if to say that he is an exception to the rules of this nation. Rules are created to maintain order and he has already broken the law by running for a third term. How much corruption can there be in one city, where the major can destroy the public school system because he thinks his way is better! His illegal surveillances are another example of his mindset. He thinks he can do whatever he wants and that the people of New York will simply accept his actions, but he is wrong. We will stand for what we believe in.”
Lisa Donlan, public school parent and the President of the Community Education Council of District 1 on the Lower East Side, said: “The illegal surveillance of a peaceful group of orderly, organized protesters is yet another example of this administration'
Khem Irby, public school parent and education advocate said, “In light of the fact that our Mayor does not have the potter's touch to fix what he has perfectly broken for seven years, I request an immediate halt in these public school closings. The board of education should take the challenge to be more creative with the communities and plant the resources to revitalize those schools. This act is an admission that the job is too hard for him. Breaking the law is not the answer either.”
"This type of intimidation and undemocratic action by the mayor is the very reason why the community believes he is destroying public education. No matter how good the intentions, when one man shuts out the voices of the community, and believes that his beliefs should have special status above all others: whether it concerns first amendment rights, decisions regarding public education, or the legal use of the police force - it is a danger to the very essence of our democratic ideals,” said Seung Ok, teacher at Maxwell Vocational high school in Brooklyn, a school which the administration has slated for closure.
“The intense police force and surveillance of a peaceful group of parent, student, and teacher protesters last Thursday highlights a clear attempt by Mayor Bloomberg’s Administration to silence and intimidate stakeholders in education policy. The hallmark of this Administration has been to deny and disenfranchise the voices of parents in the debates surrounding school policies, such as school closings and charter school invasions. This is a clear intent to dissuade active participation in advocacy efforts on their children’s behalf,” says Julie Cavanagh, teacher PS 15, “We view these actions as a violation of our civil liberties and will continue in our struggle to protect our children’s public education system and our First Amendment rights.”
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Harlem is the battleground for charter school wars.
Published Thursday 21 January 2010 02:56am EST.
Joy Resmovits for Spectator
Harlem is the battleground for charter school wars.
This was the theme of the Community Education Council meeting on Jan. 20 for Manhattan School District 3, which includes Upper West Side and West Harlem schools. Parents and school officials who attended the meeting at P.S. 242 on 122nd Street expressed anger over the inequalities between charter schools and traditional public schools which often share building space.
It is a particularly contentious issue in Harlem, where parents said that public school space has been reduced to bring in charter schools, which are public schools accountable to the Department of Education, but run by an outside not-for-profit board. Some opponents said the charters were unfairly receiving more space and resources. “My children go to the gym in a box, eat lunch in a box. There are no windows,” said P.S. 149 parent Sonya Hampton, adding, “We need to stand up for what’s right.”
Elizabeth Rose, director of portfolio planning for the Department of Education, fielded questions and concerns from the council and neighborhood parents.
Rose said that the DOE is working with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer in a series of “war room” discussions, in which different parties were brought together to find solutions to the overcrowding problem.
Discussion about overcrowding on the Upper West Side centered on increased enrollment, while the debate about schools above 110th Street surrounded the rising charter school tensions. Of 29 Manhattan charter schools listed on the New York City Charter School Center’s website, 24 are located north of 96th Street.
Rose said that representatives from schools that share space met in December, and recently launched group walk-throughs of schools to assess space divisions. “We’ve been taking hours going through these schools, opening closets, opening maintenance rooms looking for space,” she said.
Noah Gotbaum, president of the Community Education Council, said he just wanted to ensure a level playing field when schools share space.
“We know you can’t put five schools in and make them work equitably,” he said. “A lot of our public school students are coming last.”
LaShawn Pressley, PTA secretary at P.S. 242, said, “As a Harlem school parent, I don’t know how the DOE will expand charter schools when they’re not diligent in giving to public schools. It seems that they’re favoring charter schools but turning around and saying you’re just as important,” she said.
Rose responded that the standards were the same for opening a district or charter school. “We use the same standards to site schools of all types … DOE schools get funded based on enrollment—enrollment goes up, and resources go up,” she said.
New York State Senator Bill Perkins, who represents parts of Harlem, spoke at the meeting, saying that the tensions are rising. “It’s important to me that the charter school problem is addressed. It’s an uptown phenomenon, where we have charter school wars … Incumbent parents at schools that had the intent to expand are now at war with their neighbors,” he said.
One Harlem public school teacher, who requested anonymity to protect her job, cast blame directly on the DOE.
“The problem is more with the DOE than the charter schools … Over the past four to five years in Harlem schools, the DOE has decreased enrollment, taken away programs, and then come knocking with charter schools, saying ‘you’ve got all this extra space,’” she said.
Gale Brewer, a New York City Council member who represents the Upper West Side, said in an interview that though she doesn’t have any charter schools in her district, between West 54th and 96th Streets, it’s still a concern. “The issue of space, taking over public schools, it’s a killer for public schools. They say they don’t have money for space but they shouldn’t be taking over,” she said.
Rose said that the DOE is ready to host another uptown “war room” as soon as possible.
“By the way, we do agree with those parents who would like to rename them ‘peace talks,” she said. “We’re all trying to get the same things done.”
Friday, January 22, 2010
January 20, 2010
Joel I. Klein
New York City Department of Education
52 Chambers Street
New York, New York 10007
Dear Chancellor Klein:
I am writing to request that you postpone the vote on school closures by the panel on
Educational Policy (the "PEP" or "Panel") now scheduled for January 26, 2010.
I have reviewed the information provided by the Department of Education to the pEp and
concluded that it does not provide an adequate basis for the Panel to make informed decisions
about closures that will affect thousands of public school students and their families.
As you know, the January 26 meeting will be the first PEP meeting on school closures mandated
by the new Department of Education authorizing legislation enacted last year. So while I am
deeply concemed about pending decisions regarding specific schools, I am equally concerned
that we establish a precedent for the school closure process that produces positive outcomes,
earns the trust of the city's public school families, and adheres to the new law.
At a minimum, therefore, the Panel must have before it a standard set of comprehensive data for
each school slated for closure. The information should allow for (a) a meaningful comparison of
schools within the group being considered for closure; and (b) a comparison between the schools
presently facing closure and other schools deemed to be succeeding.
Clearly, nothing approaching that kind of information is available to the PEP at this point.
- More than half of the 20 schools facing closure appear not to have received the failing
grades that DOE indicated would drive the decision to close a school, and no altemative
justification has been offered.
- Twelve of the 20 schools facing closure have received a quality review rating of
"proficient," and no explanation has been offered for the inadequacy of this performance.
- No rationale has been provided for considering the closure of schools only recently put
under the leadership of new principals. For example, Mr. Phillip Martin was installed as
the new principal of Manhattan's Norman Thomas High School at the beginning of the
current school year and has by all accounts made quick and substantial progress in '
reforming the school. Nonetheless, in December, just four months into his tenure, the
decision was made to put Norman Thomas High School on the school closure list.
- Despite repeated requests my PEP appointee, Patrick Sullivan, has made for data,
including student discharge codes that would allow for a better understanding of where
Special Education, ELL and other students end up when their schools close, the DOE has
not been forthcoming with this information in a timely manner.
I'm certain you know that there is a rising tide of anger and fear among parents regarding school
closings. Some believe that the Department of Education is using school closures as a first, not a
last resort in its efforts to reform public education in New York City. This begs the question,
what progress would be achieved at struggling schools by mentoring teachers, adding afterschool
programs, providing more tutoring, and reducing class size?
Others worry that English Language Learners and special education students, the most
vulnerable populations in our public schools, will bear the brunt of school closings, and that their
well-being may be sacrificed to advance the Department's reforms. Still others are concerned
that if DOE turns its back on certain schools, it is only a short step to an approach that abandons
certain students and the bedrock public school principle that every child can learn and every
child must be taught.
We now have the opportunity to disabuse parents of these worries and put the school closure
process on solid footing. But to make that happen, the PEP's first consideration of school
closures must be conducted in a manner that is fully transparent and provides Panel members
with all the necessary information to reach proper decisions about which of our schools to close.
Please postpone next week's PEP vote on school closures.
Scott M. Stringer
Manhattan Borough President
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
PRESS RELEASE: NYCLU, ACLU File Class Action Lawsuit Against NYPD Over Excessive Force, Wrongful Arrests in New York City's Schools
New York Civil Liberties Union / American Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad Street, New York, NY 10004
Jennifer Carnig, 212.607.3363 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Will Matthews, 212.549.2582 or 2666 / email@example.com
Note: Video and the complaint are available by visiting http://www.nyclu.org/news/nyclu-aclu-file-class-action-lawsuit-against-nypd-over-excessive-force-wrongful-arrests-new-yor.
NYCLU, ACLU File Class Action Lawsuit Against NYPD Over Excessive Force, Wrongful Arrests in New York City’s Schools
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 20, 2010 – NYPD personnel assigned to New York City’s public schools have repeatedly violated students’ civil rights through wrongful arrests and the excessive use of force, according to a class action federal lawsuit filed today by the New York Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union and the law firm of Dorsey & Whitney LLP.
The landmark lawsuit challenges the conduct and behavior of police officers and school safety officers (SSOs) serving in the NYPD’s School Safety Division. It was filed on behalf of five middle school and high school students who were physically abused and wrongfully arrested at school by NYPD personnel. The plaintiffs seek system-wide reform in New York City’s middle schools and high schools.
“Aggressive policing is stripping thousands of New York City students of their dignity and disrupting their ability to learn,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “We all want safe schools for our children, but the current misguided system promotes neither safety nor learning. Despite mounting evidence of systemic misconduct by police personnel in the schools, the NYPD refuses to even acknowledge any problems with its school policing practices. We are confident that the courts will compel much-needed reform.”
Plaintiff Daija, 13, is an eighth-grade student at Lou Gehrig Middle School in the Bronx. On Oct. 7, 2009, Daija was unlawfully arrested by SSOs following a confrontation in front of her school initiated by two adult strangers who had threatened her. An SSO instructed Daija to go into the school with the strangers. Frightened, Daija told the SSO that she preferred to wait outside for her mother who was coming to pick her up.
In response, the SSO grabbed Daija by the arm, handcuffed her, forcefully threw her down and pinned her to the ground. Daija sat handcuffed at a desk until her mother managed to find her. No charges were filed against her. Daija required medical attention as a result of the assault.
“I feel unsafe at school,” Daija said. “I’m afraid that School Safety Officers could attack me again for no reason. I just want the school year to be over so I can be a normal kid again. I shouldn’t have to be scared of school.”
The lawsuit maintains that inadequately trained and poorly supervised police personnel engage in aggressive behavior toward students when no criminal activity is taking place and when there is no threat to health and safety. The police confront and arrest students over minor disciplinary infractions such as talking back, being late for class or having a cell phone in school. The lawsuit documents numerous incidents in which students engaged in non-criminal conduct were handcuffed, arrested and physically assaulted by police personnel at school.
The aggressive policing in the city’s schools contributes to the school to prison pipeline, a disturbing national trend wherein students are funneled out of the public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. These children tend to be disproportionately black and Latino, and often have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse or neglect.
“If you treat children like criminals, they will fulfill those expectations,” said Catherine Y. Kim, staff attorney with the ACLU Racial Justice Program. “Aggressive policing in public schools undermines efforts to create a nurturing and supportive environment for children, and without strict accountability and transparency, too many at-risk youth fall through the cracks and are denied equal educational opportunities.”
Since the NYPD took control of public school safety in New York City in 1998, more than 5,000 SSOs, civilian NYPD employees assigned to the schools, and nearly 200 armed police officers have been assigned to the city’s public schools. This massive presence makes the NYPD’s School Safety Division the nation’s fifth largest police force – larger than the police forces in Washington D.C., Detroit, Boston, Baltimore, Dallas, Phoenix, San Francisco, San Diego or Las Vegas. The number of police personnel assigned to patrol New York City public schools has grown by 73 percent since the transfer of school safety to the NYPD, even though school crime was declining prior to the 1998 transfer and even though student enrollment is at its lowest point in more than a decade.
SSOs wear NYPD uniforms and possess the authority to stop, frisk, question, search and arrest students. While NYPD police officers must complete a six-month training course before being deployed, SSOs receive only 14 weeks of training before being assigned to schools. School administrators have no supervisory authority over the SSOs who patrol their schools.
“When one of our clients was 11 years old, she was handcuffed and perp-walked into a police precinct for doing nothing more than doodling on a desk in erasable ink. Amazingly, no one in the police department or the school seemed to think there was anything wrong with that,” said Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, senior attorney at Dorsey & Whitney and co-counsel on the case. “It’s a sad day when you need to resort to a lawsuit to keep an 11-year-old from being arrested for drawing on her desk, but in this case it is clear there is no alternative.”
From 2002 to June 2007, the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau received 2,670 complaints against members of NYPD’s School Safety Division – about 500 complaints annually – even though no effective or publicized mechanism exists for lodging complaints against school safety officers. Families that have lodged complaints against SSOs have reported that, in response, the NYPD simply transfers those SSOs to different public schools. Additionally, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates allegations of police misconduct, has reported that the NYPD receives about 1,200 complaints a year about SSOs.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, seeks the following remedies:
- A return of disciplinary decisions traditionally dealt with by school administrators to New York City’s school administrators.
- Mandatory training of SSOs regarding conduct relating to arrests, searches and the use of force. Officers must get training for working in an educational environment and must be taught the difference between the penal code and the disciplinary code when it comes to arresting students.
- A transparent and meaningful mechanism for students and parents to file complaints against members of the NYPD’s School Safety Division.
- Revision of the policies and procedures regarding discipline of members of the NYPD’s School Safety Division who are found to have committed abuses, including their removal from having future contact with youth where appropriate.
Among those who worked on the case include Lieberman, Kim and Colangelo-Bryan as well as Arthur Eisenberg, Adriana Piñón, Udi Ofer, Johanna Miller, Kathryn Hunt Muse, Naomi Shatz, Deuel Ross and Angela Jones.
To read the full complaint or watch a video featuring plaintiff Daija Young, visit http://www.nyclu.org/news/nyclu-aclu-file-class-action-lawsuit-against-nypd-over-excessive-force-wrongful-arrests-new-yor.
- xxx -
New York Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad St., 19th Floor
New York, NY 10004
Background Note: The DFT Executive Board had voted the night before to dismiss the 1300 member petition signatures calling for Johnson's recall, though the recall process in our union constitution gives them NO authority on this matter, and says that only 1000 signatures are needed. The recall is based on Johnson's numerous violations of his obligations of office, stemming from his efforts to impose the Arne Duncan anti-public education "reforms" on Detroit Public Schools and its teachers.
After Johnsons ruled us out of order, we appealed that decision to the body, as is our right under Robert's Rules of Order and our union By-laws. The vast majority of the meeting voted with us and against Johnson.
Nothing Schools Chancellor Joel Klein can say will calm the furor and sense of betrayal parents and teachers at Public School 15 in Brooklyn have felt
Public School 15 in Brooklyn one of many struggling against charter schools
Wednesday, January 20th 2010, 4:00 AM
"There is a deliberate attempt [by Klein] to undermine and dismantle a successful public school, and we're going to fight it," Lydia Bellahcene, a leader of the Parents Association and mother of three students at the Red Hook school, vowed Tuesday.
The target here is not a failed school. Even the bureaucrats at Tweed have given PS 15 an A rating for three straight years.
Yet, parents at the school find themselves locked in a neighborhood civil war instigated by the Department of Education. Their nemesis is PAVE Academy, a charter school that shares their building but keeps demanding more space.
The same conflict is being fought out in scores of New York City neighborhoods.
It is one of the main reasons Democratic lawmakers in Albany Tuesday rebuffed intense pressure from Klein, Mayor Bloomberg, Gov. Paterson - even from the Obama White House - to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state.
The lawmakers did so even though they risked the state's losing hundreds of million of dollars in "Race to the Top" federal school aid.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) showed the most courage. He was prepared to lift the cap, but only if Klein and other school superintendents agreed to some checks and balances. Among those were new regulations requiring approval from public school parents before space in their school could be turned over to a charter.
So Silver and Sampson decided no bill is better than a bad one. So the cap on charters stays at 200 statewide.
The parents at PS 15 know the importance of having a real voice. A few years ago, Klein's aides announced they were temporarily installing the new PAVE Academy in their school. It was only for two years, Tweed told PS 15, until the charter could find its own building.
"We were shocked at the arrogance we were met with when they [PAVE] arrived, as if this building was theirs," Bellahcene said. "They insisted on separate entrances, stairwells and even bathrooms for their students. They even discourage their children from talking to ours."
"I'm sorry they feel that way," PAVE director Robertson said Tuesday. "We believe firmly there is room for our two schools to be successful with co-location. We're working on that."
And he's banking on a lot more time.
A few months ago, the Department of Education suddenly reversed itself and announced plans for PAVE to stay at PS 15 for up to five more years - until Robertson erects a brand new building for his school.
Since PAVE only has kindergarten to second grade, that will mean adding new grades each year, which means more classrooms.
"They are forcing PS 15's enrollment to shrink," one teacher said. "There aren't enough rooms in the building for basic programming."
All the things that made Public School 15 a true jewel for the children of Red Hook are being torn apart, the parents say.
If this is what Klein calls a race to the top, someone save them from it, quick.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
State Senate President Malcolm Smith gave $100 G in state funds to Queens school he founded
BY Kenneth Lovett
DAILY NEWS ALBANY BUREAU CHIEF
Sunday, January 17th 2010, 4:00 AM
State Senate President Malcolm Smith steered $100,000 in state funds to a Queens charter school he helped found, the Daily News has learned.
The money was earmarked this budget year for educational programs at Peninsula Preparatory Academy Charter School in Far Rockaway.
Smith was a founder of the school, which was chartered in 2004, and an original board member. His spokesman said he divested ties to the school when he became Senate minority leader in November 2006.
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), a close ally of Smith's, is still listed as a board member.
In 2006 and 2007, Smith received a total of $12,000 in campaign donations from Steven Klinsky, who founded the school's management company, Victory Schools Inc.
Victory has been the school's management company since 2004, according to a company official. The charter school's latest tax documents show it paid $762,322 in management fees.
While there does not appear to be anything illegal about Smith's steering tax money to the school from local assistance funds that he controls, the move raised some eyebrows.
"I don't know if it's inappropriate under the law, but it points to the influence the charter school association has on the crafting of legislation as a real special interest," said Richard Ianuzzi, president of the powerful state teachers' union.
Charter schools are publicly financed but privately run.
"Sen. Smith has been completely divested from any involvement in the governance and administration of the school for" about four years, Smith spokesman Austin Shafran said.
Peninsula Preparatory Academy Principal Ericka Wala said the school, which aims to "create a challenging, technology-rich learning environment," has yet to receive the $100,000, which is earmarked for computers.
Wala said Smith has no direct involvement with the school. She referred all other questions to school board chairwoman Betty Leon, who could not be reached for comment.
Victory officials said that Klinsky's donations were meant as a show of support for Smith's pro-charter school stance. Smith recently introduced a bill to double the amount of charters allowed under law.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/01/17/2010-01-17_state_senate_president_malcolm_smith_gave_100_g_in_state_funds_to_queens_school_.html#ixzz0d7CpnPAR
Monday, January 18, 2010
Bronx Community Rallies to Save Columbus High School: Public Hearing Draws More Than 1,000 Participants
Bronx Community Rallies to Save Columbus High School: Public Hearing Draws More Than 1,000 ParticipantsBy Mary Heglar
January 11, 2010 | Posted in IndyBlog | Email this article
More than 1,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents poured into Christopher Columbus High School Thursday night to express their opposition to the Department of Education’s proposal to phase out the northeast Bronx school.
The hearing began promptly at 6:00 pm with the reading of the Department of Education’s Educational Impact Statement (EIS) from a DOE delegate. The statement claimed that the school lacked the capacity to bring its students to grade level, that there was low demand for the school, and that the school had underperformed consistently on DOE-administered progress reports. The DOE announced plans in December to close a total of 21 schools including 16 high schools.
The Columbus Family
Each statement elicited loud boos and hisses from the highly energized crowd, which was directed to the cafeteria after the auditorium filled at 6:10 pm. More than once, the crowd erupted into chants of “Save our school! Save our school!” Many of those present wore white T-shirts with black letters that read, “A Member of the Columbus Family” on the back – some also spray painted “Save Our School” on the front.
School District 11 Superintendent Elizabeth White of School District 11 wore the T-shirt. She told audience members, “I want to apologize to you all because this is the first time I was asked to be a part of this process and I am here to represent you all and your concerns.” The crowd erupted in applause as she took her seat on the panel which sat at a table in front of the stage facing the audience.
Located in Pelham Parkway at 925 Astor Avenue, Columbus HS opened in 1938 and serves 1,400 students whose families hail from dozens of countries. Since 2004, it has shared its six-story building with four other smaller schools including Global Enterprise Academy, also slated for closure. The DOE’s announced plan to phase out a total of 21 schools, including 16 high schools, has sparked vociferous opposition in a number of communities across the city.
Many of the hearing attendees had joined a march around the school grounds before the hearing with
placards reading “For Sale: Columbus High School” and “Save Our School.” The protest organizers had filed for a permit to march in the adjacent neighborhood, but their request was denied on the day of the hearing.
The reading of the EIS and the introduction of the hearing panel (which included none of the 12 members of the Panel on Education Policy who will actually vote on the proposal) were followed by in-depth presentations by both General Enterprise Academy and Columbus HS, respectively, contesting the Department of Education’s findings.
Making Their Case
Supporters of the Global Enterprise Academy pointed to improved standardized test scores and an improved score on the DOE’s own progress report.
Supporters of Columbus pointed to its ability to thrive in the face of adversity. The school has the second most challenging student body of 372 high schools evaluated by the city. About five percent of incoming Columbus freshmen and sophomores enter the school performing at grade level while 25 percent are special needs students. Despite this, Columbus’s 2007-2008 graduation rate rose above 40 percent and its weighted graduation rate of 68.8 percent exceeds that of the city’s overall high school graduation rate. The school’s seven-year graduation rate of 81.5 percent is also higher than the citywide average of 72.2 percent.
Of the five high schools in the building, only Columbus HS and Global Enterprise have open admissions and will accept new students throughout the school year, including troubled students, students with special needs, and students in the process of learning English. The gradual elimination of large high schools like Columbus across the city leaves these students with dwindling options.
The Department of Education’s findings relied heavily on interviews with “internal stakeholders.” Throughout the three-and-a-half hour hearing, the identities of these stakeholders was consistently brought into question. The principals of Columbus and Global Enterprise said they had not been a part of the interview process.
One speaker stated that he had done a survey throughout the schools’ community and had not found a single person who was contacted by the DOE. Another alumni speaker referred to them as “phantom stakeholders.”
‘Where Was the Department of Education?’
Several local elected officials or their representatives turned up for the evening, the highlight of which was local City Councilmember Jimmy Vacca who spoke fondly of his own time as a student at Christopher Columbus High School, back when the school was considered by many residents second only to the Bronx High School of Science (CK). He spoke passionately to the panel exclaiming, “Where has the Department of Education been all this time?… I remember a time when things were broken and they were fixed!” Noting that the transformation of Columbus High School was no sudden event, he asked, “Where was the Department of Education when the school began to degrade?”
Speakers also touched on larger political themes of the proposed school closing, pointing to Mayor Bloomberg’s well-known leanings toward charter schools and the 2004 reorganization of the Columbus High building in which four schools, including Global Enterprise, moved into the building.
Students and alumni alike posed the question, “If Mr. Bloomberg can get a third chance to be mayor, why can’t we get another chance?”
The proposal to phase out Columbus and Global Enterprise will be voted on at Brooklyn Tech High School on January 26 at 6:00 p.m.
John Tarleton contributed to this report.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Susan Crawford sent this to the nyceducation news listserve:
In looking up the site reference for Kathy Emery's dissertation on the Business Roundtable's 1989 conference on education (which Isent to these lists last June, and for to there is link below), I came upon this speech which she gave a few years later, but which gives a short, concise version of the material she explored in her dissertation and subsequent book. In looking up the site reference for Kathy Emery's dissertation on the Business Roundtable's 1989 conference on education (which I