Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Join Us For Our Next Meeting on December 7th!

Join the Grassroots Education Movement to find out how you can
FIGHT BACK TO BREAK THE CYCLE!

December 7, 2010
5:00 pm Room 5409
CUNY Graduate Center
34th and 5th Ave., Room 5414 (Bring ID)
Trans: N, R, D, F, Q, B, W, V, 6, 1/2/3

Monday, November 29, 2010

Parents and Educators See Red!

Join parents and educators as they challenge Steiner's approval of Cathleen Black as NYC Schools Chancellor:

Tuesday:

Who:  Deny Waiver Coalition
What: Parents speak out against and announce challenge to Steiner's waiver decision
Where: Steps of Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers St.
When: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 4 PM

Thursday: 

Who:  Parents, students and teachers, WEAR RED on Thursday in protest and join us at our rally to demand an chancellor who:
1. HAS EDUCATION EXPERIENCE
2. BELIEVES IN PUBLIC EDUCATION

When: Thursday, December 2, 4:00PM

Where:   Tweed, DOE Headquarters
  Trains – 4,5,6,N,R,J to City Hall
       2,3 to Park Place
       A,C,E to Chambers Street

FOR MORE INFO:
GO TO WWW.DENYWAIVER.COM
Email:  info@denywaiver.com
Call: Chris Owens, 718-514-4874
 Noah Gotbaum, 917-658-3213
            Mona Davids, 917-340-8987



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Coming to a school near you: Higher Class Sizes and Teacher Excessing: Are You Next???NEXT GEM MEETING: DEC. 7









Background Articles: 

"Class Sizes Grew in City Despite Deal to Cut Them"    
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/18/nyregion /18class.html?partner=rss&emc=rss 

"Bloomberg Plans to Cut 10,000 City Jobs by 2012"
 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/19/nyregion/19cuts.html

NYC Public Schools are Under Attack!
    -NYC public schools are already criminally underfunded!
    -School-based budgets have been cut by over $400 Million since 2008!     
    -More cuts mean fewer teachers, less resources, and fewer programs for our students.
    -Budget cuts mean more teachers will lose their positions and become part of the        
     growing pool of ATRs
-Bloomberg's attempt to install a Chancellor with no education background and known for cutting to the bone is a sign of the upcoming war against teachers and the union


Join the Grassroots Education Movement
to find out how you can
FIGHT BACK TO BREAK THE CYCLE!
December 7, 2010       
 5:00 pm Room 5409
CUNY Graduate Center
34th and 5th Ave., Room 5414 (Bring ID)
Trans: N, R, D, F, Q, B, W, V, 6, 1/2/3

Sunday, November 21, 2010

SCHOOLS ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK

Bronx
P.S. 050 Clara Barton
P.S. 102 The Joseph O. Loretan School for
Creative Arts
P.S. 107 John W. Kimball Learning Center
Cornerstone Academy for Social Action
M.S. 142 John Philip Sousa
Christopher Columbus High School
Fordham Leadership Academy for
Business and Technology
Grace H. Dodge Career and Technical
Education High School
Herbert H. Lehman High School
Jane Addams High School for Academic
Careers
John F. Kennedy High School
Monroe Academy for Business/Law
Global Enterprise High School
School for Community Research and
Learning
New Day Academy
Performance Conservatory High School
Samuel Gompers Career and Technical
Education High School
The Urban Assembly Academy for History
and Citizenship for Young Men
Knowledge and Power Preparatory
Academy International High School
(Kappa)

Brooklyn
P.S. 260 Breuckelen
P.S. 114 Ryder Elementary
P.S./I.S. 137 Rachel Jean Mitchell
J.H.S. 302 Rafael Cordero
M.S. 571
Boys and Girls High School
John Dewey High School
Metropolitan Corporate Academy High
School
Paul Robeson High School
W. H. Maxwell Career and Technical
Education High School
Middle School for Academic and Social
Excellence
P.S. 332 Charles H. Houston

Manhattan
I.S. 195, Roberto Clemente
High School of Graphic Communication
Arts
Norman Thomas High School
Frederick Douglass Academy III
Secondary School
Academy of Collaborative Education
Kappa II
Academy of Environmental Science
Secondary High School
Choir Academy of Harlem

Queens

P.S. 040 Samuel Huntington
P.S. 030 Westerleigh
P.S./M.S. 147, Ronald McNair
I.S. 231, Magnetech 2000
August Martin High School
Beach Channel High School
Grover Cleveland High School
Jamaica High School
John Adams High School
Legacy School for Integrated Studies
Newtown High School
Richmond Hill High School
Business, Computer Applications and
Entrepreneurship High School
University Neighborhood High School
Washington Irving High School

Friday, November 19, 2010

PS165 @ CEC3: No to Charter Invasion - Pt.2 & Pt.1

Nov. 17, 2010 - Upper West Side, Manhattan

After serving the community for over 100 years, our space and programs are being threatened. Eva Moskowitz' wants a new private HSA Charter School to co-locate in the PS/MS 165/Mott Hall 2 Campus and over time phase out these three outstanding public schools.P.S./M.S. 165 is renowned for its model Dual Language program, Gifted and Talented Program, and programs for students with special needs. It has a long history of community enrichment. It is not a failing school. Yet, a charter school without this long history of success wants to deprive P.S./M.S. 165 and Mott Hall II of space and resources in order to implement their own programming."
The school's community rapidly mobilized and loudly opposed the Moskowitz Charter at their Community Education Council - CEC3.



A crowd of over 500, of diverse nationalities, packed the auditorium to express their outrage and chanted:

NO to the Eva Moskowitz' Private Charter School Invasion!

NO to a reduced school zone which would bring fewer students to PS 165 and allow the Dept of Education to free up classrooms for private charter expansion.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

GEM & The Real Reformers Protest At PEP

GEM & Real Reformers at

Klein's School Board Hearing (PEP)

(Video by Univision)

Activists protests the new school's chancellor (Ms. Cathie Black) for NYC schools.

Audiencias sobre educaciĆ³n en NY

Activistas protestaron contra la nueva encargada de educaciĆ³n de la ciudad.

Fuente: New York: WXTV

No to the Moskowitz Success Academy Charter At PS 165 - Nov 17, 6:30PM

November 17, Weds - 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm the Community Education Council for District 3 (CEC3) will be having a meeting to discuss the co-location of Upper West Side Success Academy, a charter school, in the Robert E. Simon School Complex. As you might have heard, UWS Success already tried to claim space in another District 3 school, P.S. 145. These efforts were unsuccessful because of organized action by the community.

The building now targeted already houses a primary school, P.S. 165, and two middle schools, I.S. 165 Global Scholars, and Mott Hall II. Various members of the community disagree with this proposal because of the negative impact this would have on the existing schools in the building; there is simply not enough space. Another issue being discussed at this meeting is rezoning, they are proposing to cut the zone for P.S. 165, which would undoubtedly decrease enrollment, and make it easier to establish a charter in the building.

P.S./I.S. 165 is not a failing school. It is renown for its Dual Language and Special Education programs. Community schools deserve to be promoted and deserve to flourish. The establishment of UWS in the building is not supportive to the community schools in the building.

Teachers, parents and community members have already begun to organize in response. Please see some of our efforts at: http://thecheetah165.blogspot.com/2010/11/robert-e.html .

Comments from Donna Nevel of the Center for Immigrant Families:
"This is great--
Also, in addition to resisting the charter school co-locations, it's also about resisting co-location plans the doe comes up with for public schools as well...how are decisions made about who gets moved, who gets relocated and co-located, etc.
And it's also about all these re-zoning proposals--whose interests are being served...
And about a district that is extremely segregated and unequal and becoming more so....
We're all coming together to insist on a genuine community process--
no decisions about co-location or rezoning without full community participation!
You know--
nothing about us without us is for us!
Also, we have wonderful community schools like 145 and 165 that deserve to be respected and allowed to flourish.
Uptown parents and community members have united and will not be divided.
Will be great to have lots of community support."
Please attend the CEC 3 meeting in solidarity.
CEC3 Public Meeting
Wednesday November 17th 6:30 p.m.-9:30
p.m.
PS 165 The Robert E. Simon School
234 W. 109th St.

Wear blue to support PS 165's
Campaign to stop the Moskowitz Charter Co-location.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Video from Nov. 14 press conference: Black nomination

The speakers are united: mayoral control must go.
GEM's Julie Cavanagh leads off the video: "Our children are not consumers."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXLLWiAfJ8c&feature=email&email=comment_received

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Protest the PEP: Stand up to the ATTACK on Public Education!

More than 47 Schools Slated for Potential Closure

It’s time to stand up to the attack on public education!

Protest Michael Bloomberg and his puppet school board, the “Panel for Educational Policy.” This administration has overseen the school-closing assault and promoted other attacks on our public school system, including:

- Increasing the number of charter schools colocated with our public schools, causing increased overcrowding.
- Cutting school budgets while NOT providing the support schools need to help students.
- Promoting the use of standardized testing as the only method of evaluating students’ progress and teachers’ effectiveness.
- Threatening to publish teachers’ test scores, despite scandals exposing the tests as inaccurate and flawed.
-Increasing the number of quality teachers in the excessed ATR pool who are denied seniority rights.
-Appointing Chancellors and other high level DOE officials who are not qualified for the job.


Tired of the education deform onslaught against parents, students and teachers?

Make your voices heard! Join the Real Reformers. Protest the Panel for Education Policy. This will be the first of an ongoing series of actions to protest the disastrous educational policies that are trying to dismantle public education


Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Meet at 5:30pm
Brooklyn Technical High School
29 Fort Greene – Brooklyn, NY 11217
B, M, Q, R to Dekalb Avenue, 2, 3, 4, 5 to Nevins Street, G to Fulton Street.

It is time for school-communities city-wide to organize and mobilize! Contact GEM if you need assistance in your school. See our Advocacy Toolkits on the side panel of this site. Together we can make our voices heard and stop the destructive forces who are undermining our public education system.


A CALL TO ACTION

Come and let your voice be heard. 
No closing schools!
Fix our schools, if needed, don't close them!
Say NO to the privatizers
We need a chancellor with real qualifications


****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************


Join the Real Reformers on 11/16 
Don a Real Reformer SuperCape and participate in our rapsong extravaganza in front of the next PEP meeting
No talent necessary
Capes and lyrics will be provided
We’ll meet up at 4:15 at the corner of DeKalb Ave. and South Elliot Pl. by Fort GreenePark for a mini rehearsal and then go over to Brooklyn Tech HS at 5:15 for the performance. 
 Join with us and let your voice be heard
 

Let’s tell the Puppet PEP that we are not going to let them deform, dismantle and destroy our schools and our students’ education!
See our previous performance at: http://youtu.be/PMqPNCvAJZo
 
Tuesday, November 16, 2010 Meet at 4:30pm
Brooklyn Technical High School is at 29 Fort Greene – Brooklyn, NY 11217
B, M, Q, R to Dekalb Avenue, 2, 3, 4, 5 to Nevins Street, G to Fulton Street.

Colocation Toolkit Supplement

Click below to download
 Colocation Toolkit Supplement

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

09-10 School Closure Retrospective

GEM produces a retrospective of the very contentious school closure process that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein put the City through during the 09-10 school year and we're about to go through it all over again. Only this time it will be 47 schools.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ngMFxhk-sc

GEM and Class Size Matters Produce Abridged Version of Advocacy Toolkit

Toolkit For Parents, Teachers, and Communities
Educate * Organize * Mobilize



Download the kit: http://www.scribd.com/full/41675726?access_key=key-2b6tixh0uuxrer7mqchp

See the blog side panel for links to download of all advocacy documents and power points.


CSM Advocacy Toolkit 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Jane Addams Teacher Chronicles How NYCDOE Destroyed School With Poison Pill

Glenn Tepper gave this testimony at the GEM Oct. 26 meeting on school closings.

With this narrative, I bear witness to how, within the span of a decade, a school can go from being so good as to be a finalist in the national New American High School competition, to being named by the New York State Education Department as one of the “Persistently Lowest Achieving” schools in the entire state.

I worked for 36 years, teaching English at Jane Addams High School for Academics and Careers in the South Bronx for the last 21 of those years.  I immersed myself in the life of the school, and had the opportunity to serve as conflict resolution specialist, coordinator of student activities, recruiter, teacher mentor, chair of the school-based management team, professional developer, dean, and HIV/AIDS resource provider, and I was a member of my union’s chapter committee.

Addams is a CTE — Careers and Technical Education — school, what used to be called a Vocational High School.  By state decree, the students all must qualify for the same Regents diploma as students in every other high school in the state.

So how does a school lose so much, so fast?  By a series of deliberate decisions and acts — poison pills— by the New York City Department of Education, to cause the school to fail.

In the Brave New World of the NYC school system, all high schools are in competition with one another for students, especially competent students. As long as a school had something unique to offer, it could compete.  Addams had certification programs for Nurse Assistant and for Cosmetology, and one of the first Virtual Enterprise business programs in the city.  The school also had Advanced Placement, Honors, and remedial programs.  For a decade, I served as the school's recruiter.  Every school year during October, November, and May, I sought out prospective applicants, at high school fairs, and by going to the middle and junior high schools, speaking to students, speaking to their parents — during school, after school, sometimes nights and weekends.

Addams would attract students from throughout the city, looking for a safe school, a school that had a documented track record of graduating its students, prepared for both college and the workplace.

But then the DoE unleveled the playing field, putting Addams at a severe disadvantage.

Addams was a medium-size school.  Under the influence of big money from the Gates Foundation and others, new little schools were created, in the borough and throughout the city, offering programs very similar to those offered at Addams.

The DoE organized so-called “small high school” recruiting events, to which Addams was not invited.

Enticed by real appealing-sounding, yet somewhat misleading names of some of these new schools, and promised the sun, the moon, and the stars, prospective students and their parents were lured into applying to these schools, over Addams.

Then the application process was changed.  Under the former process, half of our students were those who actually indicated a high preference, listing us #1 or #2 on their applications, and the other half were randomly assigned to the school.  It worked.  We had a critical mass of students who were glad to be Addams students, and their enthusiasm rubbed off on many of the others.

But under the new application rules, most of our students turned out to have not chosen to attend Addams; they had been rejected by their schools of choice.  For the last several school years, the DoE has admitted ever-smaller incoming 9th grade classes to Addams, causing the school’s enrollment to drop.  However, while other so-called “traditional” schools were closing and/or being reorganized, Addams became a de facto dumping ground — the DoE’s place for low-performing, difficult, students.

Down the road, the Addams staff is going wind up as ATRs— day-to-day substitutes at other schools, maybe a different school every day.  Many of them are never going to find permanent jobs with the DoE— Some have licenses that no other school will need, like Cosmetology, and Stenography, and Typing.  And there is nothing the union can — or will be able to — do about that.  In hindsight, these Addams people should have gone for recertification when they had the chance and the time.  

Because for years Addams had a loyal staff in both the academic and the career license areas, many of these veteran teachers will find that they are either too old, or too experienced, or too high up the salary scale, to be attractive to other schools.  One former colleague, with over twenty-five years with the DoE, has resigned herself to spending the last years of her career as an ATR.

The school will probably hang on as a dumping ground for three to five more years, with smaller and smaller enrollments and fewer and fewer staff on board.

And eventually, the DoE, in its infinite wisdom, will install three — or four, or five — new smaller schools where there once was one. Yet, neither individually nor collectively will these schools have the diverse experienced staff and the wide-ranging resources and programs that were the benchmarks of Jane Addams High School for Academics and Careers.

-Glenn Tepper
 Retired, 2009

Friday, November 5, 2010

John Dewey HS in Brooklyn, NY Initiates Fight Back Fridays

John Dewey HS Alumni Association web site: JDAA website: http://www.johndeweyalumni.org/
 
Threatened with being closed down after being fed a poison pill by the NYCDOE of having the very programs that have attracted generations of students eliminated, an influx of students from other large high schools in Brooklyn and budget cuts, the John Dewey school community has implemented a Fight Back Friday series of before school rallies on Stillwell Avenue beginning at 7:15. If you are in the neighborhood stop by or honk as you drive by.




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Y3tXGAxCOs






______________

Join the Grassroots Education Movement and the Real Reformers at the November 16 PEP meeting at Brooklyn Tech at 5:30 as they perform the rap song "Will the Real Reformers Please Stand Up!" in front of the school as a prelude to the meeting.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Not Making the Grade by Julie Cavanagh at the Huffington Post

Julie Cavanagh is a member of GEM and CAPE

Julie Cavanagh

Julie Cavanagh


Posted: November 4, 2010 02:52 AM


I have always found report cards to be a double-edged sword. On one side, they increase my opportunity to interact with parents because they are part of an age old system that connects the school house to home. On the other, I have always found report cards to be a fairly useless tool in highlighting for parents the real progress and achievement of their child in our classroom and since I am always in contact with parents anyway, they really are quite pointless.

The idea of grades in general, is an unnatural one. Learning, real learning, should not be spawned by a desire for a 'good grade', but rather by a love of learning. Truly authentic learning cannot be viewed through the narrow lens of a test driven system, as we have now, rather it should be a student centered, systematic approach driven by culturally relevant curriculum that cultivates a natural curiosity. Report cards today, especially here in New York City, are tightly tied to measurement systems that stifle growth and subordinate individualized instruction. This is not to say that we do not need tools to assess student learning, but what we produce for parents often does not paint a comprehensive picture of their child as a learner and thinker. This is why in addition to the mandated report cards required; portfolios are an integral part of my classroom assessment culture.

Learning does not neatly fall in chronological constructs that are correlated with a curriculum that is too often tied to standardized tests and reinforced with sticks and carrots. Rather, learning should be driven by passion, interest, and the cultivation of self-motivation. Portfolios, and the teacher created assessments and student artifacts you will find in portfolios, are a much more effective way of creating a picture of a child's growth, strengths, and weaknesses. The only problem with portfolios as assessment tools is they do not fit into the quantitative structure our country is obsessed with. hey require trusting our educators and treating them as professionals, which is not the climate we are living in. This is evidenced by the fact that we now want to submit teachers to the same kind of test driven report card data we wrongly evaluate our children with.

Recently there has been a push to publish teacher data report cards. These data report cards assess teachers based on their students' performance and progress on standardized tests. We have seen this trend cropping up across the country most notably in Los Angeles, where teacher report card data was published in the LA Times. Here in New York City, the Department of Education is trying to publish teacher report card data that is highly flawed- even according to the creators of the data reports themselves, and should not be used for evaluative purposes. This highlights the political nature of teacher data reports. They are nothing more than a tool in undermining not only the teaching profession, but public education as a whole.

It should be noted that the drive to tie students and teachers tightly to standardized test data is being pushed from the top down with millions in Race to the Top funds, money that should have gone to our children. Instead, these millions will largely be spent on not only developing more tests, but on creating evaluation systems, particularly for teachers, based on standardized tests. The focus on high stakes testing, and using this data to evaluate not only our students, but our teachers is simply a wrong-headed idea. Here are some of the many reasons why:

  1. Intense focus on standardized testing narrows the curriculum and encourages 'gaming' of the system.
  2. Our best teachers will avoid teaching testing grades and subjects. What good teacher wants to submit themselves and their students to a regiment of test preparation, testing, and evaluation based on testing? One of the reasons I left the testing grades was because I felt I was complicit in the systematic abuse of children through testing; I was forced to test my students with special needs more than 12 times last year, and that doesn't include the test prep, practice tests, and the authentic assessments I use to really drive my instruction. I was successful according to test measures, but I reject those measures.
  3. Teacher data report cards are the vehicle for a merit-pay based system. There is little to no data or research that supports this kind of a system. The Vanderbilt study is one of the most notable on this issue. Also see the Economic Policy Institute briefing paper on the issue.
  4. Teacher data report cards, and student evaluation systems based on standardized testing, do not produce data that is useful to educators and parents in obtaining a clear picture of what a child knows and needs to know, nor do they provide data that can drive instruction. Assessments should be used as constant 'temperature takings' so parents and educators can continually work with their children and further their achievement. Teacher data report cards and student test scores are not even released until the school year AFTER the child took the test, when the child is no longer with that teacher or on that grade.
  5. Teacher data report cards are highly politicized and are being used a wedge issue in an attempt to divide parents and teachers. Various surveys reveal that the vast majority of American families are happy with their child's teacher, yet you would never know this from the national dialogue. The use of these reports and the release of them is nothing more than a divide and conquer strategy.
The saying goes, "live by the sword, die by the sword." Our over reliance on standardized testing and the focus on tying students and educators to these very narrow scores will not only suffocate the creativity and innovation that is so important to authentic learning, it will also kill our public education system; perhaps that is the intention.
    POSTED by Norm Scott

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    Organize UFT Chapters, PTAs & Students to Fight Back Locally & Citywide!!

    GEM continues to protest against all school closings and their subsequent takeover or invasion by private charter schools. At Chancellor Klein’s sham “school closing & charter co-location hearings” or at his rubber-stamp Panel for Educational Policy – PEP (Bloomberg controlled), GEM is there to speak about the futility of just presenting favorable data, pleading, petitioning and litigating to save one’s school. GEM urges our schools to use these “hearings” as places to network and organize our fight-back.

    Unfortunately, the powerful United Federation of Teachers (UFT) has supported the charter-privatization agenda. The UFT thus will not truly mobilize and organize its members with our communities to effectively mount a necessary militant and massive campaign against privatization and charter union-busting. The UFT itself already manages two charters that have invaded public schools in Brooklyn. Through grassroots organizing, GEM aims to keep mobilizing and to fill that leadership void.

    GEM urges students, parents, school workers, and community to organize school committees at their schools which will strategize collectively on how to fight back. School fight-back committees need to build vocal and militant union chapters, Parent Associations and student unions that will coordinate efforts. GEM works to support those united school committees and to network them on a citywide level. United we can democratically and creatively decide on how to protect, defend and promote the interests of all our students against Bloomberg, Klein and their corporate interests.

    Angel Gonzalez of GEM

    Join GEM to strategize and build local and citywide struggle. Watch for upcoming meetings and events postings.

    FIX OUR SCHOOLS!

    DON'T PRIVATIZE!

    DON'T CHARTERIZE!

    STOP THE BLOOMBERG/KLEIN'S NEW WAVE OF ASSAULTS ON PUBLIC EDUCATION!

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    3 Transformations

    Colleagues,

    It is about time that we create a Movement for 3 Great Transformations in Public Education: Transforming Public Education, Transforming Public School/Public Education Governance, and Transforming our Union.

    Transforming Public Education VS Charter Schools

    The politicians allied with the billion-dollar corporations, private universities and the corporate-embedded media are selling poor urban school districts charter schools as the only model for reforming Public Education. In reality, the charter-school model is really a backdoor way of forcing poor Black and Latino people to swallow ‘vouchers’ to privatize the Public Education system.

    The Federal, State and City governments are gradually relinquishing responsibility for Education to the private sector. They are doing this in the most repugnant and unethical way. They play a psychological con game by lying about the real causes of the problems in our Public Education System.

    Primarily, in line with the corporate agenda, they blame the Teachers’ Unions for everything that’s wrong with Public Education in a propaganda blitz that aims to divide Teachers, Parents and Communities. They are blaming Public Educators for a state of affairs we did not create. They are clamoring our sentencing for crimes we didn’t commit.

    Historically, the Public Education System evolves with its strength and weaknesses. All along, the strength of Public Education has been Unionized Public Educators. They provided stability and consistency for the development of the Teaching Profession. In most instances, Public Educators spend millions of dollars of their own money to make up for lack of supplies and resources in the schools.

    Public Educators have been the backbone of the Public Education System. Its main weaknesses have been all the bureaucracies that were allowed to govern the system and did not allow Public Educators to have a voice in how the schools are run. If given voice, Public Educators allied with Parents and other stakeholders can transform Public Education. We are able to organize instructional content to deliver quality education for every student. The private sector cannot transform Public Education. They are only vying to make a profit on the backs of our children, parents and taxpayers. Whatever they can do, we can do it better with more passion because, by definition, we are Public Servants by choice not to make a profit.

    It is unfortunate that President Obama and Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, are playing so much in the hands of the private sector to favor privatization of our Public Education System through the establishment of charter schools. Public Educators working together with parents and communities are the direct answer to the challenges facing Public Education today.

    Transforming Public School/Public Education Governance vs Bureaucracy

    One of the major plagues affecting Public Education has been governance. For the most part, the Public Education System has been governed by rigid bureaucracies. Pubic School Educators rarely have input in decision-making pertaining to the curriculum, formulation of school policies and governance. They are merely treated as second-class citizens who should have no opinions about anything.

    Guidelines, Scope and Sequence, Teaching Guides, Standards are usually imposed. Creativity is simply stifled. We are told what to do with no questions asked. The tyranny has been unbearable. Principals are given sole authority over everything and everybody. In such state of affairs, how can we, Public Educators, be blamed for the things that don’t work in Public Education? It is ludicrous to make us the scapegoat of the failings of such a system. In such conditions, using the failings of some Public Schools to clamor in favor of privatization through charter schools is proof of shallow, fuzzy logic or the result of intentional dupery for the true purpose of reaping profits for the private sector.

    If the powers-that-be were really honest people, they would naturally look first at the question of school governance as a very essential and important factor in Public Education. Instead of quickly enacting laws favoring closing Public Schools and opening up charter schools, they would create dynamic governance structures that truly represent the Educators, Parents, Administrators, and other stakeholders in Public Education. They prefer to offer lip-service in setting up dysfunctional structures that cause more damages than solve anything only to turn around and blame us for the failings of their very ruses.

    We want to transform the Public School/Public Education Governance Structure. We strive to develop more dynamic School Leadership Teams that are truly representative of the Educators, Parents, Administrators, and other stakeholders in the Public Education System. They should not be pliable SLTs at the service of principals. They should be real where all stakeholders will have input in the way the school is run: decisions about curriculum, formulation of school policies, creation of programs etc. The collective governance structure of the school level should be reflected also at the District, Citywide, State and Federal levels.

    Transforming our Union vs Union Bureaucracy

    Our Union, the United Federation of Teachers, has been taken hostage by a Political Party known as the Unity Caucus for as long as the Union has been in existence. It is the largest Political Party in our Union Federation. Largest Political Party does not translate being in our best interests as Education Workers.

    We have to create committees of educators who are committed to the Union Movement, building understandings of why we need dynamic Unions. We want to start conversations about Social Justice Unionism in the various school buildings throughout the city. Our members will be able to develop the Union Spirit. They will less likely be inclined to allow administrators to divide and conquer in their midst. Our members will play a more active, dynamic and pro-active role in their Chapters. They will apply the ethics of Social Justice Unionism in their Chapters, Communities and throughout the Union.

    In this process, the members will build democratic Chapters which will allow them to grow into capable, dynamic, and well-rooted Social Justice Unionists. They will work together to build Platforms of Concerns to be addressed in their school buildings. Those concerns should be addressed in all avenues established in the school, namely, the School Leadership Team, the Consultation Committee, the Safety Committee, and other appropriate committees and gatherings organized at the building level.

    Throughout this process, the Grassroots Education Movement will provide guidance to the members through committees we have been able to establish at the school level. Those committees are not going to be our committees but will have some level of relationship with the Grassroots Education Movement.

    The Chapter should have an internal Newsletter for the dissemination of pertinent information for the members. The Chapter structure should allow for networking with other Chapters in the surrounding areas and other Educator groups around the City. It is important to take our conversation beyond the walls of our Chapters and internalize conversations from other Chapters and other groups.

    With that process, we will be able to think together, work together and act together on small and big issues at both the local and citywide levels. Chapters alone or in collaboration with other Chapters will work to frame and develop Resolutions about issues of concern for our members in the Union or the social justice struggles in the City or the world. Those resolutions will be presented in the Delegate Assembly by the delegates of those Chapters framing the resolutions.

    Our members at the grassroots don’t usually know what goes on at the Delegate Assemblies or how to frame resolutions to be presented at those meetings. The Union bureaucracy does not encourage such initiatives either. Most resolutions are drafted by the bureaucracy behind our backs. We must change this practice. Our members should know it is their right to be able to send resolutions to the Delegate Assembly to be considered for a vote of the delegates. Most likely the Unity loyalists will shoot them down. However, it is no less important and essential that our Chapters exercise this right within our own Union.

    Our members will seek ways to organize and work collectively on various issues of concern to them at the building level, the community, the city, and the world. That is the essence of Social Justice Unionism. It means that we are not only concerned about our own well-being but also about the well-being of our Fellow Human Beings here and abroad. We practice Solidarity, Compassion, Love and Fellowship.

    Our goal is to transform the United Federation of Teachers into a dynamic, agitating, and democratic Social Justice Union.

    By Tony Da Fighter