I feel putting energy into making these politicians pay is a diversion from the kind of work that needs to be done to build an active movement with enough of a mass to make people take notice. It is just as likely the politician you replace will function the same way or worse, since money talks in politics more than votes. Certainly in the sense of which candidates get far enough to come before us.
Instead build the ability to pull people out like they did in Marine Park where every politician that could get there came running. If we could do that on a regular basis that would shake the tree.
A group like GEM is very new but has as a goal the creation of such a movement by building alliances across teacher, parent, student and community lines. As an example GEMers were to meet today with people organized by the Center for Immigrant Families to discuss mayoral control. GEMers are working with people in Bill Perkins' office and are involved in the new comm for public education (CPE.)
GEM has a Harlem committee that is working with people in that community and a Brooklyn committee that is talking to teachers in another group called CAPE about organizing an event in Brooklyn sometime in the fall. We will soon be releasing a pamphlet called "the Truth About Charter Schools in NYC."
What is needed are organizers to reach out and organize. Think about holding forums in various communities on the major ed issues of the day. With the mainstream press generally a failure, people are hungry for information and open debate on the issues.
There's lots of work to be done over the next 6 years to drive a stake (or steak if you're a meat eater) into the heart of mayoral control. So don't mourn (or Wein as some NATtering naysayers sometimes do). Organize.
Angel Gonzalez answered Norm with this, which he also wanted posted here on the website:
Thanks, Norm. You are on the money with your comments! You speak clearly here to the heart of what has been a promising strategy for GEM:— jwG — Grassroots — Reach out and do establish organic ties and relationships in struggle with our outraged community advocates, parents and schoolworker constituencies who are most impacted by the charterization/privatization/mayoral-control drive . . . and who are most willing to struggle against the shutting down and sabotage of public schooling.With our G-E-M strategy, our vision must include the building a massive education movement to successfully challenge the behemoth powerful corporate-government privatization forces (of the likes of Bloomberg-Klein-Weingarten). We do have a mighty challenge but we can win.
E — Education — Work aggressively to educate them and ourselves about our analyses of these oppressive conditions facing our publicschools and communites. We'll use meetings, forums, leaflets, media, and whatever other available ways we can devise to raise consciousness. Our communities are "sleeping giants" that can and will be awakened to fight for their democratic rights.
M — Movement — Channel that anger and rage into an organized resistance and collectively develop tactics that will gain us victories. We need to organize and build our movement of parents, educators, community, workers in defense of public education. We must build this democratic movement inside our schools, our communities, and in our school-labor unions. As educators, we need to transform our sell-out AFT and NEA teacher business unions into genuinely democratic social justice type unions. Our challenge is on a local, national and international levels.
It will take time and lots of work. It will be a "marathon and not a sprint". If we want to improve school conditions. . . for our studentswe have no alternative but to fight the fight.
. . . for our communities
. . . and for ourselves as schoolworkers,