Sunday, May 31, 2009

PS 160 Protest vs. Charter School - Co-op City, Bronx - May 29- Video

May 29, 2009 - AFG Press

PS 160 of Co-op City, The Bronx, NY protested the dictatorial imposition of a charter school by Mayor Bloomberg & Chancellor Klein. Over 100 students, parents, residents, & teachers protested the inappropriate placement of a middle school "Equality" Charter in their elementary school. As customary with mayoral control, again the community was not consulted. This Equality Charter will encroach on the already limited space needed for their special needs students, to reduce class size and for its specialized classes. The parents are organizing against this outrage and have filed a grievance against the City.

Rather than promote "Equality" [a misnomer for any charter], these privatized charters in public schools only serve to divide and generate tensions. Charters provide disparate, unequal and preferential treatment with reduced class sizes, more resources and monies. These monies should be targetted for the benefit of all public schools. Julie Woodward of ICE/UFT said, "It is government that causes public schools ‘to do poorly’ by failing to provide the necessary resources, monies, and supports! Charters and school closings are not the answer."

Not surprisingly, UFT officials were absent from this important protest. The UFT can not represent its members against these charter intrusions and union-busting maneuvers of the City because the UFT has shamefully supported charters and the disastrous mayoral control of schools. GEM seeks to reverse such negative policies of the UFT/AFT which allow the private-corporate sectors to appropriate our public school dollars for their profiteering and to discredit teachers for "poorly" functioning schools. Privatization via charters only serves to undermine, underfund and union-bust our public schools. The complicity of OUR UFT must be stopped.

Unite with our communities and GEM in our Citywide fight-back!

Click to see GEM's video on Protest.

GEM issues include: stopping school closings & privatization with charters, democratic control of our schools, restoring teacher seniority transfer UFT-contract rights, smaller class size, ending high stakes testing, stopping teacher harassment, and more.

We defend equal & quality fully-funded neighborhood public schools.

Please forward.

Angel Gonzalez,
for GEM

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Marine Park Community Rises Up Against HLA Charter

Protest over Charter School at Intermediate School 278 in Marine Park

On Tuesday, May 26, 2009, the Marine Park Community mobilized massive numbers of people to an overflowing auditorium to protest at the Department of Education Public Hearing at IS 278. The only media (aside from Ed Notes) appeared to be Channel 5.

GEM was there with signs and a GEM leaflet and two of us spoke. I have some poor quality video and I will try to put up some segments in a day or two. I'll grab a few stills off the video later and add them to this post.

As one would expect, the UFT was absent. I heard people asking why and I told them the UFT can't help you protest the placing of a charter school in your middle school since they had done exactly the same thing with their charter middle school in East NY at IS 166 - George Gershwin MS - (my alma mata). I urged teachers to put pressure on the union for support.

Here is a report from parent leader Dorothy Giglio, who spoke very eloquently, on the NYC Parent blog (Charter school students as the "jewels" of the DOE)

In recent days we are hearing a lot about Mayoral Control and whether it should be continued or not, changed or left the same. The Mayor said many times he wants to be judged on how he handles the schools.

Well right now, the parents and community of Marine Park in Brooklyn are involved in a real life struggle with the Department of Education. A struggle that would never have existed except for the current system of Mayoral Control.

In order to satisfy the whims of a newly established charter school, one whose founders clearly stated if they were allowed their charter would find their own space and would definitely not look to enter any public school building, has now shown their real colors as they attempt to force their way into an existing neighborhood junior high school, IS 278.

This would never even have become an issue if we still had Community School Boards that actually answered to the community and had some real power. Instead the DOE does as it wants. Against the will of the people, the elected representatives, the civic associations etc.

But worse of all, it became really apparent the contempt that the DOE holds the parents and students of New York City. Last night at a town hall meeting held by Sen. Marty Golden where this issue was raised at a packed house and the opposition of everyone there was apparent, Mr. John White of the DOE stated that the 150 children scheduled to be in the charter school are the "jewels" of the DOE.

I guess that means that the 1100 children currently attending
IS 278 as well as the numbers of students that would attend this school in the future are just dross to the DOE. They are throwaways. Why care what happens to them, their education, their class sizes, and the programs that help them or the quality of their school day -- all of which will be sacrificed because of the forced entry of this charter school? Why care what happens to a neighborhood school that has worked for years to improve the success of their children? They don't matter because to the Mayor and the DOE they are not the "jewels".

Mr. White also stated those 150 families signed up in the charter are taxpayers who have rights. More rights, I guess, than the thousands of taxpayers that have already signed petitions against this placement throughout the community.

So that is what they think of our children and anyone not involved in their charter schools. That is the result of Mayoral Control.

--Dorothy Giglio, long time parent leader in District 22

For more on the Hebrew Language Charter school, which has announced an intention to take space inside IS 278, a Title One school in Brooklyn, see this Daily news article and Diane Ravitch's oped here.

The IS 278 PTA announcement:

Marine Park Community Set to Protest the HLA Charter School Proposed to be placed within Marine Park JHS/IS 278

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New York City march for schools

New York City march for schools
By Michele Showman | May 19, 2009

NEW YORK--About 75 New York City public school teachers, students and parents rallied in lower Manhattan on May 14 to urge the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) to resist school closings and control of the schools by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The protest was organized by Grassroots Education Movement (GEM), a coalition of dissident caucuses within the union, as well as parent and community groups. GEM seeks to unite teachers and parents in pressuring the UFT to resist mayoral control and school privatization.
They also came together to support the 1,700 teachers who have lost their jobs as a result of school closings, as well as the hundreds of teachers in temporary re-assignment centers ("rubber rooms"). Their demands include eliminating high-stakes testing, reducing class sizes and no to merit pay. GEM held a conference on charter schools earlier this month at Pace University that built momentum for the protest.

Protesters went to UFT headquarters, where protesters picketed and chanted, "DOE [Department of Education]! Open your eyes! We don't want to privatize." The protest continued to the offices of the Department of Education, where a number of speakers spoke to the importance of union resistance to mayoral control, and to democratic control of the schools.
"Over 20 schools have been closed, and more are on the chopping block," said Angel Gonzalez. "We must oppose principals who behave like centralized dictatorships."

Marchers cheered when Brian Jones, a middle school teacher in East Harlem, said, "President Obama's charter schools represent an attempt to do education on the cheap. Billions are available to bail out the banks: we need that money to bail out the schools!"

By connecting teacher union activists with community forces, GEM is mobilizing the kind of force that can stop school closings, and put control of schools in the hands of teachers and parents.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

CHARTER SCHOOLS IN HARLEM: Part of the Solution, or Part of the Problem?

> An Informational Meeting for Parents
> Wednesday, May 20
> 6:30pm
> Jackie Robinson Community Center
> 110 East 129th Street
> at the corner of Lexington & 129th
> co-founder of S.E.E.D.S., Inc. ( and on the Coordinating
> Council of Black New Yorkers for Educational Excellence – BNYEE
> ( He has been a community empowerment researcher, planner
> and implementer for his entire adult life.
> ESL/English teacher at Newcomers High School in Queens, Public School
> Parent and Alumnus, UFT Chapter Leader
> Sponsored by
> the Grassroots Education Movement
> 718-601-4901
> The Grassroots Education Movement is a coalition of groups and individuals
> fighting against the privatization of education in NYC.

Monday, May 11, 2009

GEM May 14 Rally Flyer

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Charter School Conference, May 4, 2009

Photos by John Lawhead. See more on facebook.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Comparing Student Populations of Public and Charter Schools in West Harlem

This document was distributed at the conference on charter schools at PACE U on May 4, 2009. Do charter schools cream? Decide for yourself.
Click on each image to enlarge.