Saturday, June 27, 2009

RALLY against mayoral control: Sunday, June 28th, Harlem

Anyone who opposes the Weingarten/Patterson/Bloomberg "team" effort to foist more of the same kind of mayoral control on the city for several more years needs to show up tomorrow in Harlem to tell them absolutely not.

They've had their chance to improve education in this city, and nobody's better off — not the kids, not the teachers, not the marginalized parents. In fact, we're in crisis.

NYCoRE says two borough presidents, the principals' union, and local officials will also be there to "encourage the State Senate to vote on mayoral control and not allow the legislation to sunset."

We who feel letting the legislation sunset is the only option at this point in time must be there to bring that point home.
REAL CHANGE to Mayoral Dictatorship —


Bring your signs, bring noisemakers, bring pep pills and a sac of throat lozenges, and be ready to make some noise.

Leonie Haimson is asking parents to meet up at 10:30 on the SW corner of 116 St. and Lex. The rally itself will be outside P.S. 57 at 115th St. between Lex. and 3rd.

She also reports on two stories today —
. . . about how the Mayor and his supporters are fear-mongering, in an attempt to convince the public that “chaos” and “confusion” will reign supreme if the law is allowed to sunset Tuesday night. See today’s NY Times, and the Daily News – which make it clear that these predictions of disaster are to try to force the Senate’s hand into acceding into the Mayor’s demands and accept the Assembly bill unchanged.

As Bloomberg has warned, if they try to change one word in the Silver/Padavan bill there will be riots in the street.

Nonsense! Remember how chaotic all the changes the school system have been under this administration? The destruction of the districts to make regions, the elimination of the regions to make SSO’s, the chaos created when preK and G and T admissions processes were centralized, the Kindergarten waitlists, the increases in overcrowding and class size, the attempt to close zoned schools and put charters in their place?

In fact, the philosophy of this administration has been to provoke as much “creative confusion” as possible, to enhance their lock on the system. Early on, Joel Klein told a reporter: “By doing the reorganization and actually causing some creative confusion in the system, it does make it harder for people to just rock back.”

What they fear is not chaos but the loss of total power. Riots in the street? Only if Bloomberg personally pays the rioters will this occur.

Sunday, June 28th

11 a.m. - 12 noon

P.S. 57 at 115th St. between Lex. and 3rd


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

GEM Points of Unity Leaflet

Click to enlarge.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

GEM joins the protest against Duncan's corporate agenda

See Ednotes about the protest GEM attended outside Duncan's convention in Chicago.

According to
George Schmidt (Substance), teacher union boss Marilyn Stewart continues to support the corporate agenda.

CORE Does Duncan Joined by GEMNYC - UPDATED

"Our own Angel Gonzalez was out in Chitown to join CORE (the Caucus of Rank & File Educators) and lend the GEM/ICE voice of protest at their demo against Arne Duncan today. Angel was joined by a few other NYC/GEM teachers, who will be meeting in Chicago this weekend to discuss ed/union issues. . . . . .

(photo from Substance)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Watching what Bloomberg does

An article in yesterday's NY Times announced a report being published today that recommends this:
— The city should not limit its high school reform efforts to the creation of small schools. Midsize and large schools can be effective and should be supported.

— The DOE should recognize that large high schools still serve the majority of students in New York City, and support them accordingly.

— The city must ensure that the "default schools"— schools where kids who are not picked by the school choice process wind up — get the support they need to be successful.
Some of us expect that within a day or two we'll be seeing the mayor and his limos setting up a press conference at one of the few remaining large HSS in the city, just to show that he cares about these schools as well. He doesn't, and we all know it. If he cared, he wouldn't be doing a meet-and-greet in the middle of Regents week.

Stay tuned, because if he tries to do a PR blitz anywhere near our schools, we're going to write about here.
Success at Small Schools Has a Price, a Report Says

Replacing large, poor-performing high schools with smaller schools in New York City has led to lower attendance and graduation rates at other large high schools, which have struggled to accommodate influxes of high-needs students, according to a report to be released on Wednesday.

Small schools, which cap enrollment at several hundred students and boast themes like environmental science and the performing arts, have emerged as a hallmark of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s education reform efforts. Over the past seven years, the city has closed more than two dozen large comprehensive high schools, which typically enroll thousands of students, and replaced them with smaller schools, which are supposed to foster more intimate relationships and higher student achievement.

The report, conducted by researchers at the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs, does not dispute the success of small schools in improving graduation rates of needy students. But it argues that the city should do more to support comprehensive high schools, which have been saddled with large numbers of the high-needs students who do not enroll at small schools.

The 18-month study examined 34 large high schools and found that 14 of them had decreases in attendance and graduation rates from 2003 to 2008, when the number of small schools in the city multiplied.

Based on interviews with principals, teachers and parents, the report concluded that the reason for the decreases was that the comprehensive high schools were overwhelmed by influxes of students who had histories of poor attendance, behavior problems and low academic achievement. Many of those students came from closed failing schools that were replaced with small schools, the report said.

“Small schools have really made remarkable gains for thousands of kids, but there’s a price, and the price is a lot of the large schools have gotten worse,” said Clara Hemphill, an author of the New School report, who is known for her guidebooks on the city’s best public schools. . . .

You can finish reading the article for yourself at the link. The trick is to disregard what Bloomberg says and watch carefully what he does, and that is bound to include a bit of theatrics to make us forget he's just taken a hit on the chin.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

For WBAI supporters and believers in progressive community radio

for Wed., June 17th, 5-8 p.m.

Notice just recieved:
For decades, New Yorkers have relied on WBAI for radio that provides real news and perspectives not filtered by corporate media. Now, exploiting a real financial crisis, the station is under attack. Please come out to a demo in front of the station on 6/17 to TAKE BACK WBAI!


WHEN: Wednesday, June 17th, 5-8 PM
: in front of WBAI, 120 Wall St. (corner of South Street). Trains: 2,3,4,5 to Wall St.
SPONSOR: Coalition to Take Back WBAI (see list of members/endorsers below)

: Drastic changes at the station are being imposed by the Pacifica Foundation without community input or due process. In recent months, Program Director Bernard White was fired and banned from the airwaves and building, and General Manager Tony Riddle was removed. Both have been replaced with Pacifica staff from California.
There is an eery silence about the changes on the air, as staff has been warned by Pacifica Interim Director Grace Aaron that they will be removed if they discuss any topic that she deems a "risk" to Pacifica.

Already, Ayo Harrington - a producer of the "On the Count" criminal justice program - has been summarily dismissed and banned without explanation. "Wakeup Call (morning show) producers Don DeBar (news editor) and Mimi Rosenberg (Wednesday host) have been removed. All three are critics of the coup.
The new management, backed by the current majority of the Local Station Board, wants to change programming to bring in more revenue. They started by chopping an hour off Wakeup Call. This is just the beginning in what will be a shift away from the issues of the disenfranchised and towards more well-heeled listeners.

Recently, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now! have criticized these events taking place at WBAI through a written statement. Regarding the broadcast of Democracy Now! at 8 AM, which shortens Wake Up Call by one hour, they said, "This decision disturbs us deeply and we ask that it be reconsidered."

They also said: "Given Bernard's decades of dedication and devotion to 'BAI , the way he was treated lacked basic human consideration."

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call 212-561-7231 or go to,,,, or Google "take back wbai" to find us on Facebook.

Let's come together to rebuild the station we want.

SPREAD THE WORD. Flyers are available for download at:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Charter School War at PS 160, Co-op City

Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) members Angel Gonzalez and Pam Garrison went up to Co-op City to support the parents and teachers at PS 160 who are fighting off the imposition of a charter school in their building. The original application for the charter was for District 11, which does not have as much of a middle class population to draw from as District 12 with Co-op City. So they are trying to switch horses in midstream. Talk about creaming.

Equality Charter School at P.S. 160, Bronx

by Pam Garrison
June 11, 2009-- A Equality Charter School revision
meeting took place at P.S. 160 in District 11 - Bronx where changes to its charter proposal for its placement at this Co-op City zoned elementary school were to be discussed. Equality Charter School plans to open with 132 sixth graders and eventually would become a 6th-12th grade secondary school with a total population of 414 students. Instead of a discussion on the proposed revisions, the meeting, with close to 100 people including young students, generated a raucous and sometimes hostile exchange over whether this Charter Middle School should be placed at PS 160 at all.
The announcement of the placement
of the Equality Charter at PS 160 caught many off guard and has divided the community as well as the PS 160 PTA. Its co-president, Mona Davids, who now also heads a newly created Citywide Pro-Charters Parent Association, rallied speakers in favor and an audience who displayed pro-Equality Charter signs whenever opposition voices spoke. Co-president Sebastian Ulanga, has organized against this siting of this Equality Charter here and spoke along with others against the lack proper consultation, misinformation (Equality had been processed for District 12), the negative impacts of middle school youth on PS 160 younger elementary and the special education students. While the pro-charter speakers voiced excitement about the expected higher attention, resources, and smaller class sizes with the Equality Charter there, opposition speakers expressed anger that the projected benefits would not be for the entire school population and create disparity.

Grassroots Education Movement member, Angel Gonzalez, spoke abo
ut the need to fix instead of privatizing our schools with charters. “We need to support quality and democratic processes for all public schools. Charter schools, such as Equality Charter, split communities and sow inequality instead. They ‘cream the best students’ and evidence shows that charters service fewer percentages of the neediest of students such English Language Learners, Special Education and the poorest of the poor. We need to organize a citywide fight-back against the mayor’s undemocratic imposition of these charters that take away resources from public schools. Charters union-bust and undermine the necessary unity parents and teachers against government’s failure to properly provide for all public schools.”

Jeffrey Litt, the Superintendent of this Carl Icahn Network of Charter Schools (which includes Equality Charter), expressed his support for the placement of Equality Charter at PS 160 while simultaneously engaging in a tense verbal exchange with an audience member who opposed the charter and Mr. Litt’s assertions. Mr. Litt claimed that Icahn schools do service the poor and are not exclusive, but PTA’s Mr. Ulanga interjected that any entry-lottery process for selecting students are exclusive.

Revisions to Equality’s Charter were presented at the beginning of the meeting. These included some administrative and staffing changes along with its placement now in District 11 instead of District 12. At the end of the meeting, many audience members were unable to determine the actual revisions that were being proposed – they were never restated for many who had arrived late. The meeting, which was adjourned in a particularly abrupt manner, appeared to do little to alleviate the fears, concerns and questions of many audience members. The rift, that this Equality Charter School has spawned, left many confused with many unanswered questions.

Our Children Are Not For Sale

Basir Mchawi of the WBAI show, Education At the Crossroads, is looking for endorsers to the attached AD against mayoral control. We need individuals and organizations to sign on. We also need some donations to make this happen. To date we have identified the Amsterdam News and Brooklyn's Our Time Press as conduits for the ad.

GEM has made a contribution for the placement of this ad.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bloomberg didn't make it on June 4th

That's Lenora Fulani on the left and the "Invited Guest" on the right, the one who did not show up.

This is the way Voice reporter Tom Robbins alerted readers of the event staged a fortnight ago by the Independence Party at Harlem’s famous Bethel Church:
Be there or Be Square! Lenora Fulani, Fred Newman, and all the wonderfully zany leaders of the city's Independence Party kick off their big push to reelect Mike Bloomberg Thursday evening at a rally in Harlem.
The limousines arrived all right, and so did NY1. The mayor did not.

Whether the loud and prolonged anti-Bloomberg, anti-Fulani demonstration outside the church’s wide open doors did anything to change the mayor’s mind about making an appearance, who can say for sure. With people leaning out of upstairs windows, passing cars honking in support, protesters waving dollar bills and railing for almost two hours against the mayor's power grabs, deep pockets and attacks on public schools,
it wouldn't have made a pretty photo op for him against that hostile crowd.

Robbins quoted from the pitch the Independents made for the event, saying Fulani “credits a ‘new alliance’ of blacks and independent voters with electing America's ‘two most independent leaders’ — Bloomberg and Barack Obama.”

Maybe inside the church, but out on the street, Harlem wasn’t buying it. The community made it very clear that what Bloomberg has been foisting on it or allowing to go unchecked — charter school initiatives, gentrification, the redlining of real estate, to name a few — were not welcome. Bloomberg and Fulani were not speaking for them.

In a postscript, Robbins wrote:
Campaign finance filings showing how much Mayor Mike has kicked in for this bash and other Indy organizing efforts won't be filed for a few weeks yet. But party bigs were hopeful of a big score when they endorsed Bloomberg in April.
GEM and ICE were both represented at this demonstration, and eyewitness reports and comments from them would be welcome. A
short video clip of the demonstration can be seen here.

Future protests against the corporate takeover of public education and the shutting out of community voices by this mayor and his appointees and associates (Joel Klein in particular) will be listed on this website when they are known.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

GEM at Stella D'Oro Striker Rally

You are invited to view Gloria's photo album: Stella D'Oro Demo May 30
Stella D'Oro Demo May 30
May 30, 2009
by Gloria

We had a about 10 Gemers out plus I saw other teachers who came out due to our emails. This worker support needs to be broadcast since we promote active-support and not just
the words and $$$ (not to negate importance of this) that the UFT leaderships may provide.

IN '07, the UFT and AFT were suppose to send $$$ to striking Puerto Rico - Utuado teachers as per 2 different resolutions but never did. Those resolutions get buried under the RW desk and into the nearby shredder.

Angel (we are in some of the fotos in the link)

From: Judy S Gonzalez
To: stella d'oro support google group
Sent: Monday, June 01, 2009 10:34 AM

This was circulated on portside labor with this link for pictures and text.
Check it out--and take the survey at the end--tell others to take the survey.
FW this to your friends, families others--(we should contact the author).
Portside Labor has a national following as does Daily Kos the website with the photos.


Photos from a Bronx Labor Rally: Boycott Stella D'Oro Now!
by Eddie C Sun May 31, 2009 at 06:06:59 PM PDT

I live in a Bronx neighborhood that is known for cookies. For my entire life I've been enjoying the sweet smell of Union Made Stella D'Oro cookies and biscuits. After the long cold winter that Brynwood Partners forced on the workers, those cookies don't smell so sweet anymore.

The owners are seeking to slash wages by as much as 25%, do away with Saturday overtime and impose a new, crushing, 20% employee contribution to worker health care benefits. They also are insisting on eliminating four holidays, one week of vacation, and all 12 paid sick days.

Yesterday there was a Solidarity rally in support of the workers who have been locked out of their jobs for the past ten months!

Too see pictures of this rally of about 1,000

Monday, June 1, 2009

Building Bridges: Mayoral Control and the Schools

WBAI - June 1st 7PM.
Listen at

It was good. Carmen Alvarez did a fine job of stating the UFT's position in support of Mayoral Control as it currently is without any meaningful changes.

Pat Connelly referred to Molly's comparison of Harlem Charters to Harlem Public Schools.

Also, Mimi R. cited the title of one of our gem leaflets, Fix Our Public Schools, No to charters - don't privatize.

The call-ins were on target too. (e.g. Sam Anderson).