Friday, April 30, 2010

Puerto Rico: Students, Educators and Other Workers Fill the Streets

Picket with a dual purpose

Fortuño and repudiate support the strike in the UPR

Protesters of all ages and various causes took Ponce de Leon Avenue to protest the Governor.

By Gary E. Alvarado León /

While Gov. Luis Fortuño yesterday offered his second budget message, dozens of unions, civic and student, among others, gathered in front of the main gates of Rio Piedras campus of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), to repudiate economic policies of the current administration and at the same time supporting the demands of university strike.

From 4:00 pm, the rails of the Ponce de Leon Avenue began to fill with people of all ages, to the point that the road was closed to traffic both locally and the collective.

The demonstrations, in which reigned quietly began when four students were thrown flower petals 12 policemen of the Tactical Operations Unit who provided security at the gates. Subsequently, two other students stood in front of two separate feeders such agents with dog food.

To the beat of a batucada, who arrived accompanied by mosquitoes and heads, the picket line was formed and immediately began to rumble with him as "Workers and students united and forward", "The student is cansao of this abuse descarao" and "from within and we'll give out candle."

The parade of greetings and messages began shortly before 6:00 pm.Among the most prominent was the environmental planner and member of the Coalition All Puerto Rico by Puerto Rico, Jose "Tato" Rivera Santana, who called the words of fortune as a "contramensaje."

"The real message I have given the students, who have raised the banner of justice and defense of public education," he said.

Also, Bishop Juan Vera, also of the Coalition, said the Governor's speech was "The message can not."

"(The Message) is full of arguments to justify the crisis and their poor choices. One doctor who has not committed to prescribe bitter medicine for workers, poor communities and students, but given the rich sweet country, "outlined the religious.

Labor leaders, including President of the Union of Workers of the Electric Industry and Irrigation (UTIER), Angel Figueroa Jaramillo and Luis Pedraza Leduc, spokeswoman for the Broad Front for Solidarity and Struggle, agreed that the university "have been a professor" of a struggle of people who should be emulated by the organizations they represent.

"Students have said that the only alternative that has a people under a fascist government is organized street fighting," said Figueroa Jaramillo.

"This struggle of the students raises the need for unity and communication over the differences," said Pedraza Leduc.

Meanwhile, Rafael Feliciano, president of the Federation of Teachers, said that students are charting the right path to fight the "anti-labor management" Fortuño.

The former senator Independence Party (PIP), María de Lourdes Santiago, said, meanwhile, that no one can take the message of hope after Fortuño.

As an option to bring more receipts to the Government without having to lay off public employees, Santiago recommended to implement a surcharge "which is not confiscatory" to foreign companies, who continue to receive "preferential treatment."

In the squad also attended the Coalition Against the Death Penalty in the context of the 81 anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty in Puerto Rico

The activity ended at about 9:00 pm.

Wall Street Taken Over - Workers Demand: Fix This Mess You Made

1. 31,000 Deliver Message to Wall Street: Fix The Mess You

2. I'm Marching Today to Make Wall Street Pay (Richard

3. Thousands Swarm To Massive Protest On Wall Street


31,000 Deliver Message to Wall Street: Fix The Mess You Made

by James Parks

AFL-CIO Now Blog News -- Apr 29, 2010

Some 15,000 union members and other progressives on the
ground and another 16,000 virtual marchers got Main Street's
message to Wall Street today: Good Jobs Now! Wall Street
Must Pay! Marchers in New York carried the names of virtual
marchers on stickers as they marched toward the statue of
the Wall Street bull.

Led by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, union members and
activists from National People's Action (NPA), NAACP, Move
On and others took over Wall Street during the afternoon
rush hour for a march and rally. When the marchers got to
Wall Street, there were so many that they filled up two

At the rally, Trumka told the cheering crowd:

We're here today for the folks who were played for
suckers in the casino economy and will be silent no
more. And the message we bring is this: Wall Street, fix
the mess you made.

America lost 8.5 million jobs because of the financial
crisis created by Wall Street, Trumka said, and now is 11
million jobs in the hole.

We need to go back to basics, where good jobs, not bad
debts, drive our growth. An economy where Wall Street is
the servant, and not the master of Main Street.

Workers in the public sector and education talked about how
deep budget cuts are strangling schools and public services.

NAACP President Benjamin Jealous told the massive crowd that
this is the time to take back America from the Big Banks. He
said while money can buy votes, money can't vote and all the
newly registered voters in the 2008 election will make a
difference in 2010.

Trumka laid out three simple steps the Big Banks can take to
start paying back for the damage caused by their risky

* Stop fighting Wall Street reform. Stop acting like
what happened to our economy was some kind of accident,
like a meteor fell on us. Take some responsibility for
what you did. Call off the lobbyists. * Second-Stop
speculating and start lending. We bailed you out, it's
far past time you started lending to Main Street. *
Third-Take responsibility for the clean-up of the mess
you made. Pay your fair share of the cost of creating
the jobs you destroyed.

During the rally and march, hundreds of participants joined
a text messaging action and called Goldman Sachs, telling
the Wall Street giant to stop opposing meaningful financial
reform. In addition to the mass of people taking part,
hundreds watched the event in a live webcast (see clips at and commented live throughout the
march and rally, many showing the deep hunger across the
country for action to create jobs and restore our economy.

Some of the comments included:Kevin Hansel/IN: WALLSTREET-

Rita: After living through a lay-off lasting 11 months, I'm
working 3 part time jobs for less pay! Stop the destruction
of the working class! Solidarity Now!!!



CWA 7019: Shame on you Wall Street!

Today's march and rally followed a week of actions
spearheaded by unions and the community affiliate Working
America at shareholder meetings across the country.


I'm Marching Today to Make Wall Street Pay

By Richard Trumka,
President, AFL-CIO

Huffington Post - April 29, 2010

So now we learn that as millions of America's families were
losing their homes, Goldman Sachs cheered because it stood
to make huge money betting on a housing market gone bad. Is
that Wall Street's vision of American values? It's not mine.
And it's not the values of the thousands of working
Americans who are marching on Wall Street today in person
with me and online.

Our message is simple: Big Banks tanked our economy and took
our money when they needed a bailout. Now they're thumbing
their noses at our communities but making billions in
profits. It's time they pay up.

Pay up by investing in communities to create jobs for the
millions of unemployed workers -- like Terry in Florida, who
was laid off a week before Christmas. Being forced to return
his family's Christmas gifts to the store was just the
beginning of his pain. While the corporation he worked for
is turning a profit, he fears his family will be homeless by

Meanwhile, in 2009, 25 hedge fund managers were paid the
equivalent of the salaries of 680,000 school teachers.
That's in 2009, when we taxpayers spent billions of dollars
bailing out the financial sector. If Goldman Sachs is
cheering at the collapse of the housing market, what's the
rest of Wall Street saying? Thanks, suckers?

Those may be Wall Street's values. They're not America's.

In a stunning new Pew poll, more than half of those surveyed
say within the past year a member of their household has
been out of work -- up 15 percentage points since last year.
Fully 70 percent of Americans say they have faced one or
more job- or financial- related problems in the past year,
up from 59 percent in February 2009.

And homelessness no longer is a scourge of the most troubled
of our society. Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the
National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, describes
the nation's epidemic of homelessness as reaching crisis
proportions not seen since the Great Depression -- and it
stems directly from the Big Bank-fueled recession in which
millions of workers lost jobs and savings and can no longer
afford their mortgage or rent.

Meanwhile, the Big Banks announced massive first quarter
earnings -- Citigroup, $4.4 billion; Bank of America, $4.2
billion; Goldman Sachs, $3.46 billion; JPMorgan Chase, $3.3
billion; and Morgan Stanley, $1.8 billion. It turns out that
much of that money was made by the same risky trading
practices that cost taxpayers a $700 billion bank bailout.

The damage inflicted has deepened economic inequality, which
has gotten worse since 2007. The richest 10 percent now
control nearly 70 percent of the wealth. Those with incomes
in the bottom 50 percent have a little more than 2 percent
of the wealth.

The bottom line is Wall Street should pay to clean up the
mess they made and Congress must enact strong Wall Street
reform. We are supporting four ways for the Big Banks to pay
-- President Obama's bank tax, a special tax on bank
bonuses, closing the carried interest tax loophole for hedge
funds and private equity and, most important, a financial
speculation tax levied on all financial transactions --
including derivatives -- that would raise more than $150
billion a year, according to the Congressional Budget
Office. The financial speculation tax would have a
negligible impact on long- term investors but would
discourage the short-termism in the capital markets that led
to so much destruction over the past decade.

Congress also must aggressively address the jobs crisis now
-- if not because it's the right thing to do, then because
of November 2010. That Pew poll I cited above? It found
Americans united in the belief that the economy is in bad
shape: 92 percent give it a negative rating.

Wall Street's values are based on greed. The American
people's values are rooted in working hard, playing fairly
and doing right by our family, neighbors and friends.

If you can't march and rally with us on The Street, join us
live online today at 4 p.m. EDT. We'll be 10,000 strong on
the ground and marching for tens of thousands more who have
signed up to take part in our virtual march.

Working people are angry -- and we are right to be angry at
the betrayal of our economic future. Help us turn that anger
into the energy to create jobs, fix our economy and build a
stronger nation

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tales of Corruption at the NY State Ed Department

NYSED is corrupt and provides cover for numerous corrupt school districts and, now, charters. Some time folks should compare NYS Comptroller audit reports with NYSED's various district monitoring reports, etc. We have a complete failure of an education governance situation here, and whether any particular school, district or charter (or private school, or state-approved private special ed. school) will get a bad report out of some NYSED staffer is totally dependant on the observed entity's political pull.

The examples you cite are appalling - but honest, there are ones just as bad for public school districts. In fact, a few years ago, the USDOE OIG audited one Long Island district - or tried to - and reported publicly that it was "unauditable." NYSED did a snit on the OIG, but the fact is that the district's own auditors reported it had stopped keeping any records at all re what staff paid with Title 1 funds did and strongly recommended that such records be maintained again. The outside auditors made the same negative findings and recommendations 3 years in a row. NYSED received these audits and had a legal responsibility to do something to enforce corrective action and did absolutely nothing at all - then the USDOE OIG stepped in. And the district was forced to refund a lot of Title 1 money to the feds ... over NYSED's dead body. Wyandanch, if anyone cares.

Don't ask about what NYSED does when it gets a call stating that a public school district administrator is molesting a child. I did ... once ... at a professional conference on school molestation of students by adults, and the reply simply sickened me. If it was a charter administrator alleged to be doing the molesting ... result would be exactly the same.

Whatever NYSED exists for, it does not exist for the furtherance of NY children's educations. Not by a long shot.

Dee Alpert, Publisher

Leonie Haimson wrote:

Love this one:

For example, when State Education Department staff recommended the renewal of Western New York Maritime Charter School’s charter, the supporting memorandum praised the school’s new-found stability – an oblique reference to four principals, or commanders, in four years. The SED staff memo said the school had “faced and met many challenges” and had “learned from its experiences.” “The school has promptly and satisfactorily addressed any and all issues identified in its annual audits and by the Office of the State Comptroller,” the SED memo stated. “The School has implemented (and will continue to implement) strong fiscal monitoring procedures and internal controls.”[1]

The State Education Department memo, however, did not reference the fact that the Erie County district attorney had filed criminal charges against management for misappropriating $95,000 from 2005 to 2007; that the school could not account for nearly $10,000 in federal grants; that the school’s parent-teacher group had complained that its funds had been stolen; and that charter management had hired an administrator with a criminal record.[2]

Five months ago, the State Education Department recommended the renewal of the Niagara Charter School’s charter, despite a finding of “misallocation of funds.” The monitoring report, which was not made public,[3] called the Niagara Charter School “a school in disarray” and noted, “There is, at the very least, the pervasive appearance of fiscal mismanagement and less than ethical behavior on part of the Board of Trustees and school administration.”[4] Staff recommended and the Regents approved a three-year renewal of the Niagara Charter School’s charter. [5]

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011

[1] SED staff memo to Board of Regents recommending charter renewal, December 8, 2008.

[2] Buffalo News, March 18, 2010

[3] Record made available by State Education Department upon specific request, following school’s renewal

[4] State Education Department, Comprehensive Monitoring Report, March 11-12, 2008

[5] Memorandum to EMSC Committee, December 4, 2009 and minutes of the January meeting, Board of Regents

School Reform We Can’t Believe In

School Reform We Can’t Believe In

by Stan Karp

While running for president, Barack Obama called No Child Left Behind
“one of the emptiest slogans in the history of American politics.” By
the time he gets a new version of the law through Congress, his own
campaign theme—“change you can believe in”—may be a contender for the
same title.

In fact, if the healthcare debate is any guide and the reform ideas
being floated by the current administration are ultimately adopted,
the pending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education
Act, still commonly known as NCLB, could make a bad law worse.

The administration hopes to move a reauthorization bill this year, but
Congressional divisions and election year politics make that doubtful.
The current law will remain in effect until it’s replaced. It will
also continue to trap growing numbers of schools in its test and
punish dragnet as the 2014 deadline nears for its unreachable goal of
100 percent pass rates on state tests. Over 30,000 schools, nearly a
third of all public schools, are already on the “needs improvement”
list. Unless the law is changed, most of the rest will follow.

Even if reauthorization is delayed, the effort to remake federal
education policy is well underway. But instead of a dramatic break
with the test, punish, and privatize policies of the Bush era, there’s
been so much continuity under Obama that historian Diane Ravitch calls
it “Bush’s third term in education.” Bush brought in Houston
Superintendent Rod Paige as secretary of education to implement the
“Texas miracle” on a national scale. Obama selected Chicago schools
CEO Arne Duncan, with his overhyped résumé of turnarounds and charter
schools, to do the same (for more on Duncan’s record in Chicago, see
Rethinking Schools Vol. 23 #3.)

The Obama/Duncan federal education policy began to take shape with the
“assurances” tied to last year’s stimulus package, which included $100
billion for education. It was further spelled out in guidelines for
Title I School Improvement Grants issued last August, and again in the
$4.35 billion Race to the Top (RTTT) plans last fall. Sidepockets of
$650 million in “innovation funds” for partnerships with favored
nonprofits and another $350 million for new tests are also part of the

Together, these initiatives amount to another wrong turn for federal
education policy, fueled by unprecedented if temporary streams of
federal money. So far, many of these initiatives have been defined by
federal regulation and U.S. Department of Education guidelines that,
unlike ESEA, do not require Congressional approval. In a twist on the
Bush-era use of “block grants” to dilute programs for targeted
purposes, Obama and Duncan have seized on “competitive grants” as a
way to drive top-down reform priorities and pressure states to get
with their program.

The new federal funds are tied to four broad “assurances”:

*Improve teacher quality and distribution
*Strengthen standards and assessments
*Improve data collection
*Turn around low-performing schools

Within these innocuous-sounding categories are landmines that have
become defining features of the administration’s reform plans: linking
test scores to teacher evaluation and compensation; rapid expansion of
charter schools; development of data systems that facilitate remote
control of schools and classrooms; and aggressive intervention for
schools with low test scores, including closures, firing of staff, and
various forms of state and private takeovers.

Early rounds of stimulus spending were only loosely driven by these
assurances. Initially, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds
allowed states to save temporarily the jobs of hundreds of thousands
of teachers. Billions were also allocated for early childhood programs
like Head Start, college support programs like Pell Grants, and
special education funding through the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA) without major changes to the design of those
programs, in which funds flow to states through formulas based on
numbers of eligible students. As some later complained, there were “no
grant competitions, no long, complicated applications, no review teams
with complex scoring rubrics.”

But the Obama/Duncan version of reform steadily took more prescriptive
shape. Eliminating barriers to using test scores for teacher
evaluation and expanding charter schools were made conditions for
getting RTTT funds. New guidelines for Title I School Improvement
Grants gave schools in the latter stages of NCLB sanctions four
choices, all of which required staff firings, closure, or takeover by
an external agency. Duncan began talking about closing thousands of
schools—“the bottom 1 percent of the nation’s portfolio”—like the CEO
of a runaway multinational corporation.

The administration appears determined to preserve many of NCLB’s basic
elements, including its reliance on test-driven sanctions, while
adding some of the worst features of its Race to the Top plans.

The original version of NCLB consolidated decades of efforts to move
decision-making over education policy, including curriculum and
assessment, away from schools and local districts to distant state and
federal bureaucracies. Standards and tests were the primary tools and
NCLB mandated massive increases in both. The disaggregated test data
highlighted real and persistent gaps in educational performance. But
the sanctions imposed had no record of success as school improvement
strategies, and no hope of closing the gulfs in achievement and
opportunity that the law’s “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) charts

However, the drumbeat of failure did have political uses. As former
Bush Undersecretary of Education Susan Neuman told Time magazine in
2008, many in that administration “saw NCLB as a Trojan horse for the
choice agenda—a way to expose the failure of public education and
‘blow it up a bit,’ she says. ‘There were a number of people pushing
hard for market forces and privatization.’ ”

These aims were reflected in the sanctions NCLB imposed on schools
that missed their test targets. Schools “in need of improvement” were
required to pay for privatized supplemental tutoring or support
student transfers to other schools. But while some profiteers turned
these sanctions into lucrative contracts, there were so many problems
that these options got little traction with parents or students. Less
than 1 percent of those eligible found transfers and fewer than 15
percent found supplemental tutors.

The original law did have a “school improvement fund,” but neither
Bush nor Congress ever put any money in it. (Over its first six years,
funding levels for NCLB were $71 billion less than promised.) It was
increasingly obvious that NCLB was a test, punish, and privatize
system, not a school improvement measure.

By the time Bush left office, NCLB was almost as unpopular as he was.
The closer you were to a school or a classroom, the more you cared
about public education, the more likely you were to hate NCLB.

The new administration arrived with overwhelming support from
educators and their unions and a popular mandate for undoing Bush’s
agenda at home and abroad. But Obama’s rapid transition from populist
antiwar candidate to corporate commander-in-chief was soon reflected
in the selection of Wall Street-friendly managers Timothy Geithner and
Lawrence Summers as his top economic advisors, Bush holdover Robert
Gates as secretary of defense, and recycled Clinton-era figures
everywhere. Similarly, the Department of Education was heavily staffed
by corporate and foundation-friendly “reformers” from the neoliberal
and conservative wings of the Democratic Party. Duncan was selected
over progressive educator Linda Darling-Hammond. The mantra of the
“four assurances” came to define the new administration’s school
reform policies, and education joined healthcare, economic policy,
foreign policy, and climate change as issues where campaign promises
of “change” and “hope” morphed into Washington business as usual—or

“Let’s Build Up the System We’ve Got”
Some of the policy parallels have been striking. For example, several
times candidate Obama said if he were starting “from scratch” he would
favor “single-payer” healthcare with government regulating a nonprofit
system to provide access to healthcare for all. But Obama said he
wouldn’t press for single-payer because it would be too “disruptive”
to the healthcare system already in place. “Let’s build up the system
we’ve got,” he argued.

Yet such a single-payer system is pretty much what public education
is. The government is responsible for providing public access to a
nonprofit system of schools for all children, with state and local
agencies providing the bulk of funding and oversight, and the federal
government historically responsible for issues of equity and access.
But instead of sustaining this hard-won public system and fixing its
flaws, Obama and Duncan are proposing policies that would dramatically
“disrupt” the “system we got” and introduce some of the same
profiteering and inequalities of the current healthcare system into

The administration’s promotion of charters and school takeovers by
education management organizations echoes its endorsement of “co-ops”
managed by for-profit insurance companies as a way to provide
healthcare. Mandating school closings and staff firings, and imposing
deregulated systems of charters and private management on public
school districts will erode the civic common ground and local
political structures (e.g., school districts, locally elected schools
boards, collective bargaining) that U.S. public education has been
built on.

Similarly with what’s often loosely called “merit pay.” Obama came
into office well positioned to work collaboratively with the two large
teachers’ unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National
Education Association, to promote needed reforms on teacher tenure,
compensation, licensing, and seniority. But while dutifully “bringing
everyone to the table,” Duncan has used federal dollars to grease the
skids for pay-for-test-score schemes that have huge implications for
eroding union power and scapegoating teachers.

No matter how these policies are nuanced in Duncan’s media soundbites,
they play out in the real world with blunt impact. “We’re asking
Congress for more money to develop compensation programs ‘with’
you—and ‘for’ you—not ‘to’ you,” Duncan told the NEA. But in state
legislatures across the country, this has become a license for
heavy-handed efforts like those in Tennessee, Illinois, and Louisiana
to make test scores count for 50 percent of teacher evaluation

The avowedly pro-labor administration has been unable to pass the
Employee Free Choice Act, designed to level the playing field for
union organizing, or take any significant steps to address the gross
imbalance favoring capital over labor that has contributed to the
country’s economic and social decline. But tying teacher pay to test
scores and handing management a hammer to pound one of the last
bastions of labor’s strength? No problem.

Credit Default Swaps of the Ed World
Standardized multiple-choice tests have become the “credit default
swaps” of the education world. Few understand how either really works,
but both encourage a focus on illusory short-term gains over more
lasting long-term goals and drive bad behavior on the part of those in
charge. The blame-the-teacher potential in pay-for-test-score schemes
is hard to overstate. In Michigan last December the Detroit News
reported “impassioned parents demanded jail time for educators and
district officials following the release of test scores that showed
4th and 8th graders had the worst math scores in the nation.”

Obama claims his reforms are “a classic example . . . of
evidence-based policymaking,” but the administration has
systematically ignored the record on some of its key initiatives. From
the outset, it equated charters with innovation, far beyond any levels
justified by their actual impact. The most credible national study of
charter school performance showed that, even on test-score terms, only
17 percent of charters outperformed comparable public schools, while
37 percent scored worse. Charters drain resources, staff, and energy
for innovation away from other district schools, often while creaming
better prepared students and more committed parents. They function
more like deregulated “enterprise zones” than models of reform,
providing subsidized spaces for a few at the expense of the many.
Little attention and few resources have been invested in translating
the elusive successes of charters into systemwide improvement. Nowhere
have charters produced a template for effective districtwide reform or

Yet, thanks to RTTT, states have rushed to increase the number of
charters, enable performance pay, and promise to adopt unproven
turnaround plans. Joe Williams, the executive director of Democrats
for Education Reform, a pro-market reform group financed by hedge-fund
millionaires, told Education Week that “the extent to which the Race
to the Top competition seems to be prompting state leaders to pursue
concrete policy changes was ‘breathtaking.’” Rep. John Kline, the
ranking Republican on the House Education Committee, put it another
way: “In many ways it’s a Republican agenda.”

Now the administration wants to integrate RTTT’s competitive grant
approach into a revised ESEA, including the $14 billion Title I
program for high-poverty schools. All the new education funds in
Obama’s FY11 budget would be allocated this way, including a $1
billion package conditioned on passing a new ESEA with RTTT-like

“Race to the Top taught us that competition and incentives drive
reform,” Duncan told reporters. “So even as we continue funding
important formula programs like Title I and IDEA, we are adding money
to competitive programs that are changing the landscape of our
education system.” If the administration succeeds, over 30 percent of
federal education funds will be distributed to “winners” at the
expense of “losers” without reference to equity-based formulas.

No Stimulus for Equity
The change will hurt poor schools. As Anne Bryant, the executive
director of the National School Boards Association, stated:

The focus on competitive grants and the decision to provide no
increase to Title I means rural districts and children in the poorest
parts of the country will be left behind. Those districts do not have
the capacity to compete for grants—unless you want to shift money from
teachers to grant writers.

Gabriel Arana of the American Prospect put it even more directly:

Underperforming schools will arguably be in the worst position to
compete for federal aid; it makes as much sense as asking the
unemployed to duke it out over benefits.

The emphasis on competitive grants over equity concerns has already
undermined the impact of the administration’s sizable increases in
federal education spending. Deepening state and local budget crises
have heightened the importance of federal education spending, yet the
administration is not using its increased leverage to promote funding
equity by requiring states to improve their notoriously inadequate and
unequal funding systems as a condition of federal aid. A 2010 study by
New Jersey’s Education Law Center showed that in most states the
distribution of stimulus funds “did not improve the fairness of the
school funding formula.” The administration has put more effort into
tying individual teacher compensation to test scores than encouraging
states and districts to distribute more fairly the $500 billion they
spend annually on K-12 education. This means as stimulus funds expire
and districts fall off the “funding cliff,” state formulas will
exacerbate inequality.

Both Obama and Duncan regularly frame their education reforms as “the
civil rights issue for the 21st century.” Yet it’s stunning that the
first African American president has increased federal education
spending by over $100 billion dollars without directing a dime to
promote integrated public education. At a conference last May, a
teacher asked Duncan what he would do to address the rampant
segregation that marks public education more than 50 years after the
Brown decision. Duncan struggled to say a few words about magnet
schools before cutting his remarks short to return to the White House
for a photo op with his latest school reform cohorts, Al Sharpton and
Newt Gingrich, who were about to hit the road to stump with Duncan for

Potential Risks and Benefits
The push for national standards is another part of the
administration’s reform blueprint. For Duncan, the basic problem in
NCLB is not the misuse and overuse of standardized testing; it’s that
the individual state tests don’t provide a common measure, and instead
encourage states to game the system by juggling proficiency levels.
Longstanding opposition to national standards and tests forced NCLB to
rely on separate state tests that allow such maneuvering.

The latest business and foundation-friendly solution is the “common
core” standards initiative. Sponsored by the National Governors
Association and funded by the Gates Foundation, 48 states (excluding
Texas and Alaska) have agreed to adopt consultant-written standards in
multiple subject areas. States that participate will get points on
their RTTT applications (applications that Gates hired consultants to
help 25 states write). Once the standards are written, Duncan will use
$350 million to finance multistate consortia to develop new
high-stakes assessments based on the standards.

This will mean still more tests. And more jargon to justify them. RTTT
applications are loaded with plans for “benchmark” testing in the name
of “formative assessment.” Some “growth models” will require multiple
tests throughout the year tied to accountability schemes. Other
supporters of common standards want to add tests in subjects besides
reading and math to offset the narrowing of curriculum spawned by
NCLB. Teachers and students, already sinking in a swamp of data-driven
drivel, may drown. Test publishers and data systems companies will get

A lot will depend on how the widely hated AYP system of test score
traps and sanctions is revised. Duncan has floated a still vague
“college and career ready” standard that could be equally problematic.
The “college and career ready” rubric is drawn from foundation-driven
national standards efforts like Achieve, Inc.’s American Diploma
Project that have attempted to turn “college for all” rhetoric into
high-stakes exit testing and new form s of tracking in high schools
across the country. As FairTest’s Monty Neill has pointed out: “It
could signal support for intensifying the worst components of
NCLB—apply high-stakes testing to teachers even beyond what ‘Race to
the Trough’ has done; require harder-to-pass tests and perhaps even
more testing; mandate still onerous if somewhat different
'accountability' expectations.”

One real danger would be ratcheting up high school exit testing in the
name of buzzwords like “21st century skills” and “global
competitiveness.” A recent report from the Advancement Project noted
that, since the passage of NCLB in 2002, 73 of the largest 100
districts in the United States “have seen their graduation rates
decline—often precipitously. Of those 100 districts, which serve 40
percent of all students of color in the United States, 67 districts
failed to graduate two-thirds of their students. In other words, since
the boom in high-stakes testing, many of the students most at risk of
not graduating have been pushed out of school.”

Duncan’s “college and career ready” standard could double down on
these policies.

On the other hand, abandoning the AYP system could open up
possibilities for relaxing the mandate to test every student every
year in grades 3-8 and once in high school, and for supporting
development of better assessments. Rolling back federal testing
mandates and ending the direct link between test scores and punitive
sanctions would be two of the most significant improvements to look
for in a revised law.

There will likely be proposals for “growth models” and “multiple
measures” that distinguish between schools where a majority of
students are struggling and those where low scores are confined to one
or two subgroups. Such changes are especially important to suburban
and wealthier schools with limited populations of special education
and ELL students, whose low subgroup tests scores have exposed schools
and districts to sanctions.

The Push for Turnarounds
Revisions that ease pressure on some schools may be paired with
increased pressure on others, especially given Duncan’s turnaround
plans. His education department wants future rounds of RTTT to include
grants that bypass states and go directly to “reform-minded” districts
willing to aggressively shut down struggling schools and turn them
over to charter operators and educational entrepreneurs. In Chicago,
New York, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, arbitrary decisions to close
schools, some made by dictatorial chancellors backed by mayoral
control laws, have disrupted and provoked communities without
providing credible options for students. These shutdowns have drawn
increasingly angry responses and are likely to grow in proportion to
the push for turnaround efforts.

Turnarounds are also a potential growth industry for the charter
franchisers, educational management companies, and foundation-funded
nonprofits that are now both instruments and influential partners of
the administration’s plans. Obama is proposing to invest another $1
billion in school turnaround grants as part of a renewed ESEA, on top
of several billion in stimulus funds targeted for these purposes.
Already, in anticipation of receiving federal funds, turnaround
“specialists” and consortia are taking shape—like the six-state, $75
million agreement launched in February by the School Turnaround Group
at the Mass Insight Education and Research Institute.

The federal government has no track record and little capacity to
support its turnaround plans. These efforts could accelerate the
fragmentation of urban school districts into unequal tiers of schools
serving decidedly different populations. The most comprehensive report
on school restructuring under NCLB, by the Center on Education Policy,
found that 5,000 schools were forced to choose from five options that
“did not offer much help to schools that were trying to improve.”
Duncan’s combination of more aggressive sanctions, closings, and
external takeovers could wreak further havoc in areas with high
concentrations of poverty, high-need student populations, and clusters
of struggling schools.

Swimming Against the Current
A number of progressive groups are trying to stay ahead of the
reauthorization curve and work with Congressional staff on changes
that would ease the testing plague, replace punitive sanctions with
more constructive supports, and address some of the broader social and
economic deficits that translate into test score gaps. The Forum on
Educational Accountability (, the
Forum for Education and Democracy (, and
the Broader Bolder Approach to Education project
( have all made useful proposals. A
Rethink Learning Now campaign ( is
attempting to bring “powerful learning” and “fairness” stories from
teachers and students to bear on the federal policymaking process.
Progressive proposals include: roll back the mandate for annual
testing, insert opportunity-to-learn standards, allow more varied
classroom and teacher-made assessments, and develop more supportive
processes for assessing and building the capacity of schools to

However, these efforts are up against not only the test and punish
status quo, still heartily endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce and the
Business Roundtable, but also the newly empowered “market reformers,”
bankrolled to the sky with federal and foundation dollars. If the
healthcare struggle is any guide, progressives could again face
choices between an unsustainable status quo and a package of bad
reforms with inadequate funding.

The administration’s distorted reform priorities surface in bizarre
ways. For example, Louisiana ranks near the bottom in funding for
public schools and almost 20 percent of the school-age population
attends highly segregated private schools. Yet the state is regularly
praised by Duncan because it has eliminated caps on charter schools
and uses test scores to evaluate both teachers and the certification
programs from which they graduated. It’s considered a leading example
of the kind of reform RTTT seeks to promote. In New Orleans, Duncan’s
former Chicago boss Paul Valles has presided over the reconstitution
of the city’s devastated school system as a grossly unequal network of
semi-privatized charters with selective admissions and less privileged
Recovery District Schools with class sizes twice as large. Students
are no longer guaranteed placement in any school. Yet, in a January
interview, Duncan declared, “Let me be really honest. I think the best
thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was
Hurricane Katrina. That education system was a disaster, and it took
Hurricane Katrina to wake up the community to say that ‘We have to do

There’s a lot about the path from NCLB to RTTT that echoes Naomi
Klein’s “shock doctrine” theory about how ruling elites use crises for
power grabs and paradigm shifts that would be otherwise hard to
impose. Disasters, both natural and manufactured, become opportunities
to remake economic and political arrangements and reinforce prevailing
systems of power. Or, as Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen said, “The whole
Race to the Top just provided a focal point for a whole range of
things that might have been difficult to do in other times.”

In the heady days surrounding Obama’s inauguration, many political
observers predicted a new era of reform and social progress akin to
the presidencies of FDR in the ’30s and LBJ in the ’60s. Instead, what
we’ve seen so far recalls the corporate neoliberalism of Bill Clinton
and the conservative “populism” of Ronald Reagan.

But the problem isn’t just the narrow political vision and corporate
allegiances of Obama, Duncan, and company. It’s the fading of the
popular mobilization that at times gave Obama’s campaign the feel of a
social movement. What pushed FDR to the New Deal were the powerful
labor and left-wing movements of the ’30s. In the ’60s, it was civil
rights and antiwar struggle that fueled LBJ’s expanded social agenda.
That’s the kind of energy democratic school reform—and the

The early lesson of the Race to the Top seems to be: Until pressure
from below forces a change in direction, the folks at the top will
keep leading us over a cliff.

Stan Karp ( is a Rethinking Schools editor.

The Race to the Top and its connection to class size by Deborah Glick

Talking Point

The Race to the Top and its connection to class size

By Deborah Glick

For years we have been fighting for reduced class size for all students in the New York City schools. We’ve held rallies, demonstrations, wrote letters and had repeated meetings with various members of the Department of Education, including Chancellor Klein himself. In response to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, the state included capital funding to provide for physical expansion of school space to make it possible to reduce class size. Despite objections from the city administration, funding specifically for reduced class size was included in the State Education Department’s Contract for Excellence.

Nonetheless, class size continues to increase in those districts that have seen overcrowding, and while our determined advocacy has generated some new school seats, they have been entirely too few for the growing census of students. Now we have the spectacle of co-locations of charter schools in public school buildings. All this begs the question of how is it possible that there is so much extra school space available for charter schools, but not sufficient space for reduced class size and to reverse the elimination of cluster rooms and art and music rooms?

The tone deaf nature of the Department of Education is not anything new, but it still requires that communities and elected representatives stand up and fight for public education. The current focus on charter schools seems to absorb much more attention than the numbers of students in those schools warrant. Good government is about balance, and for the last several years that balance has not been in evidence in this approach.

Without entering into a full debate about the merits of the charter school movement, it is important to point out that the recent Race to the Top controversy revolves around eliminating a cap on charter schools, even though that aspect of the application from the state represents a very small portion of the scoring. The $700 million figure bandied about refers to a four-year commitment, which translates into a maximum of $175 million a year. Now that amount of money is nothing to sneeze at, but in the context of a $21 billion state education budget it is unlikely to cover all of the new required record keeping that attends the other parts of Race to the Top that was absent from the public debate.

What is most important to understand, however, is that the law currently allows any Board of Education in the state to convert any public school into a charter school with a majority vote of the parents of the children in that school. Schools Chancellor Klein expressly has that authority and has had it for a number of years. In fact, the chancellor has already converted five public schools into charter schools. So this notion that the law had to be changed to remove the cap on charter schools to allow for more improvement is a red herring. The cap only impacts those private organizations that seek to create new schools.

In the end, the mixed record on charter schools reflects the truism that there are some great schools, some terrible schools and mostly average schools. This applies to public schools as well. Our job is to look at the formula that we all know works: small class size, with a talented teacher and a complete range of subjects — including art, music, history and physical education, as well reading and math — results in a well-rounded student. This is the goal that we should continue to pursue. The limited focus on achieving only advancement in reading and math scores does a disservice to all students.

Glick is the assemblymember for the 66th District

Another Klein Shakeup - Commentary on Racism at the Top

From Leonie:

I don’t get the headline of the Times article, which is reprinted below ….does the mandated curriculum change? I don’t think so.

Generally, I don’t see this as a big change in the DOE’s laissez-faire attitude, generally allowing principals to run their own schools however they like, including violating the law, as long as test scores go up. Clearly the educrats care not at all about teaching and learning, having eliminated that division entirely.
Clearly, they care not at all about the impression that the bureaucracy at the top and the salaries are increasing while they are threatening massive layoffs to teachers.

The outrageous thing is they are pretending that the following is their rationale for these changes:
New school governance legislation has increased external oversight. Sustaining our reforms will require us to redouble our commitment to an open public dialogue."

Come on! That’s like justifying the proposal on laying off senior teachers by saying that it give parents more power, when we know quite the opposite is true.

Excerpt from the NY Times:

The change will bring the number of administrators with the title of deputy chancellor to eight — more than double the current number. Each of the deputies will make at least $192,000 by next February, and raises will cost the city $95,000, said David Cantor, a department spokesman. By adding two extra top administrators to the payroll, the city will most likely be spending nearly $500,000 more, although it is possible other positions will be eliminated. …
Santiago Taveras, who less than a year ago was appointed the deputy chancellor of teaching and learning, will now be in charge of community engagement. Mr. Taveras has been one of only two Hispanic members in Mr. Klein’s cabinet; there are no African-Americans among the department’s top officials, and all of those who received salary increases in the latest change are white. About 70 percent of the system’s students are black and Hispanic.

So much for Joel Klein’s claim to be a great civil rights hero of our time.

In Shake-Up, Principals May Get More Say Over What Is Taught

Published: April 26, 2010
The schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein, said Monday that he was reshuffling the top jobs at city’s Education Department headquarters and eliminating the division that oversees school curriculum and teacher training programs.
The moves are intended to give principals more power to determine what kind of instruction they use at individual schools, rather than using only suggestions developed in central offices.
The changes underscore a substantial shift that the department has made under Mr. Klein, who early in his tenure focused on centralizing control of the system and developing a uniform citywide curriculum.
The change will bring the number of administrators with the title of deputy chancellor to eight — more than double the current number. Each of the deputies will make at least $192,000 by next February, and raises will cost the city $95,000, said David Cantor, a department spokesman.
By adding two extra top administrators to the payroll, the city will most likely be spending nearly $500,000 more, although it is possible other positions will be eliminated.
Eric Nadelstern, who has worked in the city school system for nearly four decades and is widely seen as a possible successor to Mr. Klein, will become the deputy chancellor for school support and instruction, taking primary responsibility for the city’s 1,500 schools. Santiago Taveras, who less than a year ago was appointed the deputy chancellor of teaching and learning, will now be in charge of community engagement.
Mr. Taveras has been one of only two Hispanic members in Mr. Klein’s cabinet; there are no African-Americans among the department’s top officials, and all of those who received salary increases in the latest change are white. About 70 percent of the system’s students are black and Hispanic.
For the last several years, Mr. Nadelstern has supervised a growing group of high-performing schools that are given more autonomy for both instruction and spending. “The more authority you share, the more influential you become, so that what ends up happening now is that schools seek out our opinion,” he said Monday. “We don’t have the answers to what will work for all 1.1 million children; otherwise, we would have a graduation rate higher than 60 percent.”
But he added that he believed the rising graduation rate was evidence that the philosophy was the right one. “I’ve worked for 13 chancellors, and the needle didn’t move for years,” he said.
Clara Hemphill, a researcher at the New School who is studying the department’s structure, said it was still too soon to tell whether Mr. Nadelstern’s approach was the right one. “Clearly a stifling bureaucracy that treats everybody like soldiers in an army is a bad thing but there’s also need for outside help figuring out what to do,” Ms. Hemphill said. “What’s true is that nobody in the country has tried it and it’s new way to organize.”
In other staff changes announced on Monday, Mr. Klein appointed Sharon Greenberger, the current chief executive officer of the School Construction Authority, as chief operating officer for the department. Ms. Greenberger will oversee each of the divisions in the department, and her primary responsibilities will include laying the groundwork to close schools the department considers failing and replace them with new schools.
The department faced fierce criticism during the process of closing schools last fall, and earlier this year a judge ruled that it did not follow state law throughout the process. The city is now appealing that ruling.
Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, criticized the move at a time when the department is openly discussing the possibility of teacher layoffs.
“Do you think that it’s a good idea to be adding to the central payroll at the time of the most severe budget crisis?” he said. “Is that the kind of example you want to be setting?”

Jersey Student Walkout

In New Jersey, a Civics Lesson in the Internet Age

It was a silent call to arms: an easy-to-overlook message urging New Jersey students to take a stand against the budget cuts that threaten class sizes and choices as well as after-school activities. But some 18,000 students accepted the invitation posted last month on Facebook, the social media site better known for publicizing parties and sporting events. And on Tuesday many of them — and many others — walked out of class in one of the largest grass-roots demonstrations to hit New Jersey in years.

The protest disrupted classroom routines and standardized testing in some of the state’s biggest and best-known school districts, offering a real-life civics lesson that unfolded on lawns, sidewalks, parking lots and football fields.

The mass walkouts were inspired by Michelle Ryan Lauto, an 18-year-old aspiring actress and a college freshman, and came a week after voters rejected 58 percent of school district budgets put to a vote across the state (not all districts have a direct budget vote).

“All I did was make a Facebook page,” said Ms. Lauto, who graduated last year from Northern Valley Regional High School in Old Tappan, N.J. “Anyone who has an opinion could do that and have their opinion heard. I would love to see kids in high school step up and start their own protests and change things in their own way.”

At Columbia High School in Maplewood, that looked like 200 students marching around the building waving signs reading “We are the future” and “We love our teachers.”

In West Orange, a district that is considering laying off 84 employees, reducing busing, cutting back on music and art, and dropping sports teams, it was high school students rallying in the football stands.

At Montclair High School, it meant nearly half of the 1,900 students gathered outside the school in the morning, with some chanting, “No more budget cuts.”

In the largest showing, thousands of high school students in Newark marched past honking cars stuck in midday traffic to fill the steps of City Hall under the watchful gaze of dozens of police officers.

With their protests, the students sought to send a message to Gov. Christopher J. Christie, a Republican whose reductions in state aid to education had led many districts to cut staff and programs and to ask for larger-than-usual property tax increases. Mr. Christie, who has taken on the state’s largest teachers’ union in his efforts to close an $11 billion deficit, has proposed reducing direct aid to nearly 600 districts by an amount equal to up to 5 percent of each district’s operating budget.

“It feels like he is taking money from us, and we’re already poor,” said Johanna Pagan, 16, a sophomore at West Side High School in Newark, who feared her school would lose teachers and extracurricular programs because of the governor’s cuts. “The schools here have bad reputations, and we need aid and we need programs to develop.”

Michael Drewniak, the governor’s press secretary, released a statement on Tuesday saying that students belonged in the classroom. “It is also our firm hope that the students were motivated by youthful rebellion or spring fever,” Mr. Drewniak said, “and not by encouragement from any one-sided view of the current budget crisis in New Jersey.”

Bret D. Schundler, the education commissioner, also urged schools to enforce attendance policies and not let students walk out of class. State education officials said they had a call from one district that had moved students taking standardized tests to another part of the building because of potential noise.

Not every school had students walk out. Nancy Dries, a spokeswoman for the top-ranked Millburn district, which has used surplus money to avoid major cuts, said it was “business as usual” there.

But in many other places, students came to school ready to make a political statement. Emma Wolin, a junior at Columbia High, walked out of second-period Spanish with several classmates, even though the school had warned that they would face detention.

“It’s the activities and school spirit that make Columbia a great school, and I want to keep it that way,” she said.

Judy Levy, a spokeswoman for the South Orange and Maplewood district, said that teachers did mark protesting students absent, and that some students went back and forth between the walkout and their classes, while others chose not to participate because their classes were reviewing for Advanced Placement exams that begin on Monday.

Ms. Lauto, whose message inspired the walkouts, said in an interview that she was amazed and gratified that so many students had responded. She said the state education cuts had really hit home because her mother and sister both work in public schools in Hudson County.

Ms. Lauto, enrolled at Pace University, said she has always had an activist streak. In seventh grade, she tried — but failed — to organize a protest over a new dress code, and after President George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004, she wrote “Going to Canada, Be Back in 4 Years” on a T-shirt and wore it to class.

But until now, Ms. Lauto said, she has used Facebook only to keep in touch with friends and let them know when she is performing in shows. She alerted those 600 Facebook friends to her message calling for a student walkout and asked them to pass it on.

Within a week, Ms. Lauto received hundreds of responses, not all of them positive. In fact, so many students insulted her and said the walkout was a stupid idea that she disabled the message function on her Facebook page. On Tuesday, Ms. Lauto joined students who walked out of High Tech High School in Bergen County. She said she was not planning any more protests, but hoped that students learned that their voices could be heard.

“I made this page with the best of intentions,” she said. “The fact that it has become so wildly successful — I’m so overwhelmed.”

Nate Schweber contributed reporting from Newark, and Lois DeSocio from Maplewood.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Puerto Rico: Video/Fotos Student Strike; Teachers take over government offices

Puerto Rico: Video/Fotos Student Strike; Teachers take over government offices


After two days of a student occupation of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) in Rio Piedras, San Juan, student leaders have declared an indefinite strike. The student assembly organized by the student General Council last week approved the two day walk-out and an indefinite strike if the administrators of the state run and owned university did not negotiate seriously with the students. The main student demands are: 1. Stop the more than $100 million proposed reduction in funds for the UPR; 2. Halt the privatization of the UPR.

The reaction of the pro statehood government and university officials has been a heavy handed use of the riot squad which has on various occasions since Wednesday used force in an attempt to break the strike and student morale. An attempt by the riot squad to take over the main entrance to the university was resisted by the students who fought back the aggression.

However, the cops now control the entrance.
Various labor leaders in the fight against the government's firing of over 20,000 public sector workers have participated on the student picket line outside the university and some have entered the university in support of the student strike.
Other campuses of the University of Puerto Rico in Humacao, Mayaguez and others have also declared their intention to go on strike staring Friday.

On the other hand, some 100 teachers led by Rafael Feliciano, President of the Teachers Federation of Puerto Rico occupied offices of the government's Treasury (Hacienda) protesting the destruction of the teacher's retirement fund which is being privatized by the government.

Link to video of student parody of riot squad.

Link to video of teachers occupation of government offices and their removal by the riot squad.


Student strike shuts down UPR

by Juan A. Hernandez
University of Puerto Rico students successfully, and almost without a significant incident, paralyzed academic and administrative operations at the Río Piedras campus Wednesday after university officials had vowed to keep the institution open.

A group of several dozen students who had stayed within campus premises since Tuesday night joined others coming into the campus on Wednesday morning and successfully locked the gate on Barbosa Avenue as early as 6:00 am.
At the gate five or six university guardsmen had tried to stop the students in a kind of tug o’ war with them to control the gate. In the melee some of the guardsmen and students were crushed between one another and exchanged some blows. Meanwhile, several others were pepper sprayed in a confusing incident.

Twenty minutes later the same group of students had crossed the campus and locked UPR’s main gate at Ponce de León Avenue without incident.

“By insisting in keeping the gates open the administration is trying to provoke a confrontation,” said Student Negotiating Committee member Adriana Mulero, who Wednesday morning called the first of the two days stoppage “a success.”

“They [university officials] expected we would come around 4:00 am to close the campus main gate. Instead, we took refuge at the university itself – the way it is meant to be – last night and this morning proceeded to close the gate on Barbosa Avenue,” explained Mulero, also a member of the Public Education Student Defense Committee.
Mulero informed the students had organized themselves to occupy the UPR “from within while avoiding confrontation.”
But for UPR’s Interim Chancellor Ana Guadalupe far from avoiding confrontation, the students had provoked it.
In a last minute press conference Guadalupe announced that as of 9:45 Wednesday morning she had decreed an indefinite academic and administrative recess for the Río Piedras Campus.

“It is my responsibility to provide a peaceful and quiet atmosphere for classes and other campus activities to take place, where students, professors and employees can fulfill their tasks,” Said Guadalupe.

“Up until the violent incident where 19 security officers were pepper sprayed and assaulted with pipes, pieces of wood with nails [sticking out], chains and other objects, in a clear violation of the demonstrators commitment to uphold the no confrontation policy, we see no alternative other than the indefinite academic and administrative recess,” added the Chancellor.

Questioned how many of the UPR police had been beaten and injured Guadalupe said that all 19 officers had been injured. But reports from several journalists covering the incident all agreed that no more than six university guardsmen had been involved in the incident that took place at the gate on Barbosa Avenue and that only two of them had exchanged blows with the students. Press reports of the incident also specify that it was one of the guardsmen who pepper sprayed the crowd but that the wind had carried the irritating substance towards his fellow officers.

Guadalupe insisted that the number of injured officers had been 19 but declined to offer any evidence on the subject while assuring that “all evidence will be presented in due time.”

Act of provocation
Despite the lack of official information Secretary of State and acting Governor, Kenneth McClintock, authorized Police Superintendent José Figueroa Sancha to assist university authorities by “taking control of the campus’ outer perimeter.” Police presence, including that of the Tactical Operations Division (riot squad) members, would later prove to be interpreted as an act of provocation in what had been until then a relatively calm student demonstration.
The chancellor said her decision could be reversed only if the striking students agreed to adhere to the no confrontation policy, which will entail free access to the institution, no interruption of the classes or administrative activities.

Guadalupe had scheduled a meeting for 3:00 pm Wednesday with the demonstrating students and the negotiating committee to discuss her proposals and theirs. Like UPR president José R. De La Torre, Guadalupe said she has always been open to negotiate and would meet with the negotiating committee even if they are not official student representatives as described in the institution’s rules and regulations.

The chancellor did not commit herself to accept any of the students’ proposals but assured she would consider those over which she has authority to decide.

Nevertheless, the chancellor’s offer didn’t surprise the students.

“Her announcement is but a confirmation of our victory. She had said that campus operations would be as usual but we have clearly demonstrated that was not so,” General Student Council president Gabriel Laborde.
“I think that one of the first items in the agenda is for her to recognize those 16 committee members are legitimate student representatives …” added Laborde.

After “winning” their first day in battle the students refused to leave the campus even though their stoppage seemed to turn “academic” since the chancellor had announced and indefinite recess for the campus. The demonstrators’ persistence prompted the administration to present a legal action against them at the San Juan Judiciary Center.
The injunction submitted by the university administration requested the court order the students to desist from their actions interfering with access to campus grounds. Superior Court Judge José Negrón, who reviewed the recourse Wednesday afternoon, reserved his decision on the injunction and as of Wednesday night had not yet filed it.
By nightfall, UPR students, still in control of the campus’ gates had a standoff with members of the riot squad. The incident which spurred tension on both sides of the UPR’s main gate started when a student leader was denied access to the premises by a group of students. The argument escalated into a struggle for control of the gate.

Minutes later a riot squad platoon lined up in front of the gate with their batons at hand and ready. Their presence provoked the students’ ire, who immediately took to the gate and started yelling insults at the officers.
The situation took almost an hour of intense negotiations between Police brass and Puerto Rican University Professors Association members before the riot squad retired from the gate.

An undetermined number of students decided to stay inside the campus for the night while others left. It was unclear whether the demonstrations would continued today or be postponed until classes resume next week or later.