Sunday, September 27, 2009

Two articles in the Daily News

Another article in the Daily News on what's going on over at PS 15 with the PAVE charter school asking for an extension to share its space.

Also today, Diane Ravitch on "The Charter School Problem: results are much less positive than a new study suggests".

Investing in charter schools, or outright speculation?

An easy-to-read article by Daniel Wolff in Counterpunch starts off with a quote by the CEO of a real-estate trust who sunk many millions of dollars into charter schools:
"We’re not speculators. We’re investors.”
That's frightening, particularly when you think that BushBama has been pushing the charter school agenda for a decade. What's good about this article is that it describes the relationship between a number of charter school components that not everyone fully understands:
Essentially, Wolff says, "Charters are public schools in that the funding comes from state and local school taxes. [The school] gets a certain amount of money for each of its charter students based on the home district’s per-student expenses. The more kids [it] enrolls, the more money it gets (and the less goes to traditional public schools.) . . . The money pays for teachers, supplies, maintenance, etc. But the problem charter schools have is getting the capital to buy or lease buildings [italics mine]."

Where has New York City seen that before?

EVERYWHERE, in every borough. That's why charters are being allowed to push out public schools from their own buildings, and that's why we're seeing "have" and "have-not" communities of children learning the fine arts of snobbism, arrogance and segregation. Our country knows a lot about these things in our sad history, and it's very unfortunate that people who make decisions for society don't particularly worry about putting that pot up to full boil again.

As you read Wolff's article, pieces of info you've picked up from this or that school-specific situation fall into place.

After some explanatory paragraphs about how real-estate speculators make money off the charter school business, Wolff posits that "the only catch in the formula is the charter has to educate its students on about half what the state spends per-student." Quoting from one charter school website, he says:
The corporation demands what it calls “economic sustainability” from all its schools. “Each school must spend less each year on school operations than it receives in revenue from the government and other sources.”
He then asks the question:
But if the district determines how much it costs to educate a child — and sends money to [the charter] based on that formula — how can the charter school do it for less?
The answer he got from a principal: "Money was saved by letting go veteran (read expensive) teachers and increasing class size (read cost saving)."

The charter school Wolff's talking about went onto the national Watch List for failing schools, and the conclusion he was able to draw was that "the rent got paid. But it didn’t guarantee the quality of the education."

That charter is run by Imagine in Nevada, the same company that operates the Imagine Bronx Academy of Promise right here in the Bronx.

— jw

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Military recruitment, student privacy

How our country beefs up the military (in the past eight years through the Patriot Act of 2001 and its reauthorized version in 2006) figures strongly in a presentation to be given at the UFT headquarters on October 7th by two ICE members, Gloria Brandman and Lisa North, who also work with the Students or Soldiers Coalition.

The issue of recruitment in HSS has been taken up by the SOS Coalition, of which the New York Civil Liberties Union is a member. Highlights of the new DoE rules going into effect on recruitment are given on the NYCLU website.

Here's the notice for the October 7th event. Brandman and North have spearheading a campaign to protect HSS students by speaking to various chapter leader meetings and elsewhere across the city.

— jw

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Notice of hearing Wed., Sept. 23rd

Here's the announcement of tomorrow's governance hearing, which of course teachers can't attend, at least for the first few hours of the meeting.

I am curious about the amendments passed by the Senate (underlined sentences below), because they do not become law until both houses pass them and I haven't heard whether the Assembly did that when they went back into session. If anyone has clarification on that point, please send in a comment.

Hearing on DOE’s Implementation of the New School Governance Law
& Int. No. 951

The City Council’s Education Committee, chaired by Council Member Robert Jackson, will hold an oversight hearing on DOE’s Implementation of the New School Governance Law. The Committee will also be holding a hearing on Int. No. 951. Below is information regarding the upcoming hearing:
Hearing title: Oversight: DOE’s Implementation of the New School Governance law
Date: Wednesday, September 23rd
Time: 1:00 pm (public testimony will begin sometime after 3:00pm)
Place: City Hall, Committee Room
In August 2009, the State passed a new school governance law that effectively renewed mayoral control of the City’s schools, but made a number of changes aimed at improving transparency and accountability as well as increasing parental involvement. In addition, the State Senate adopted 4 amendments that would, grant more power to district superintendents, require schools to have an annual meeting with parents to discuss school safety and policing, establish a parent training center and an arts council. The Education Committee will hear from the DOE its plans on implementing these changes. The Committee would like to hear from stakeholders and the general public their suggestions and concerns regarding DOE’s implementation of the new governance law.

The Committee will also be holding a hearing on Int. No. 951, a Local Law to amend the New York city charter, in relation to requiring the New York city department of education to provide the metropolitan transportation authority with certain student enrollment information.

We invite members of Community Education Councils, parents, students, educators, advocates, and all other stakeholders and interested members of the public to testify at this hearing. Testimony will be limited to 2-3 minutes per person to allow as many as possible to testify. Although the hearing starts at 1:00 pm, the Administration (Department of Education), as well as other witnesses (such as elected officials) have been invited to testify and answ er questions from Council Members at the outset, so we do not expect to hear from others until sometime after 3:00 pm. Please make sure you fill out a witness slip on the desk of the Sergeant-at-arms if you wish to testify. If you plan to bring written testimony, please bring at least 20 copies.

Please note - hearing dates and times are subject to change.
For information about hearings and other events, check the Council's website at or, if you'd like to receive email notices of upcoming hearings, you can sign up at the following link All hearings are open to members of the public.

Monday, September 21, 2009

PS 15 and PAVE duke it out at the CEC hearing


The Daily News finally steps in to comment on Sept. 27th.
I wonder if they're reading the blogs.

Important videos on the Sept. 17th CEC hearing in Red Hook over the continued occupation of public school space by the PAVE Academy Charter School.

After a vigorous defense of the charter's occupation of the building by NY Charter School Parents Association Prez Mona Davids, CEC Chair Jim Devor firmly set the record straight on whose jurisdiction it is to authorize space in schools.

Devor stated that a district's CEC has the authority and the right to hold hearings on these issues of occupancy, and the DoE has the obligation to listen to its recommendations. The CEC does not have the authority to make the final decision, remarking rather colorfully:
"Nobody has authority except God, the mayor and the chancellor. And we're not sure about God and the mayor."
The whole exchange can be viewed at Ednotes here.

A more recent post focuses on PAVE's founder and director Spencer Robertson, who as far as I can see, seems to have lied himself into a corner.

See that clip here.

— jw

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bloomberg to lay off children services workers this month

A message from Faye Moore, President of AFSCME Local 371 — Childcare Services — which another aspect of the struggle to get children in this city the services they need.

All teachers know that when I child is hungry, ill, abandoned, and abused, he can never reach his or her full potential in school, no matter how much they're tested and data-processed.

I need your help.

Local 371 is slated to lose 319 members through layoff on Friday, September 25, 2009. They work in ACS and they are all permanent civil servants; many with more than 10 years of service. The Union has posted a video running on youtube. Go to youtube/500jobs view it, rate it, MAKE THE CALL and pass it on to someone! Call 212 788-0268. I'm also asking that you tag it to your Facebook and MySpace pages if you have them.

We are trying to create pressure so that the Mayor backs off these layoffs. I know its a long shot but we're fighting back every way we can.

From AFSCME Local 371 President Moore.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

On the scene and telling it like it is

"My school is bursting with students, and Tweed is to blame."

A must-read article by chapter leader Arthur Goldstein (Francis Lewis HS, Queens) in the Daily News.

More overcrowding.
Still more overcrowding.

Goldstein reports: "Our building, initially designed for 1,800 students, broke 4,700 this year."

Friday, September 18, 2009

CAPE & the CEC meeting they attended last night

Norm Scott alerts us to another description of this event over at Gotham Schools and the "pretty incendiary comments" that follow it.

What it boils down to is this:
A. Some teachers in public schools are fighting hard for their space, supplies, lower class size and all the essentials of a good learning environment.

B. Some charter school parents are not so much parents as messengers of the DoE/corpocrat/charterization line.

C. The DoE is breaking laws and keeping the public uninformed and disinformed over the entire issue of placing charter schools into existing public school buildings.

D. Foremost in the agenda of every grassroots ed organization is to make sure resources around spread around equally, schools and teachers are not maligned, and communities are not broken up into competing factions.

On the new CAPE blog is a report on the meeting PS 15 parents attended last night to demand that the PAVE Academy find different space by June 2010 as promised.

There are interesting descriptions about some of the speakers and PAVE shenanigans:

— PAVE students are not all coming from the the Red Hook community,

— The attack on PS 15 teachers, and

— "Mr. Robertson’s attempt at 48 Laws of Power #37, 'Create Compelling Spectacles'. Good try."

CAPE wants the District 15 CEC to have an open dialogue on these two issues in particular, but I'm sure they want more a dialogue:
1. Hold Pave Academy and the Department of Education to the agreement they made with our community, the promise they made to our students; two years temporary housing in PS 15- that means out by June 2010.

2. Work and seek to reevaluate the formula for shared space so that Community Public Schools, like PS 15, are not negatively impacted by the shared space policy. It may be too late to curb the impact at our school, but if we can prevent this from happening to other school communities, it is our moral imperative to do so.
We need intrusive, unequal chartering to actually stop.

— jw

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Last Wednesday's protest at PS 123




Parents speak out, see pictures of the rooms.

One telling moment at around 6:32-6:45 — The charter schools kids are being lined up against the wall of the building. They're obviously a little frightened in the hubbub and it is not clear why they have to be there at all instead of being taken inside. The demonstrators are certainly not preventing them from entering the building. One certainly has to question what's going on here.

More details here by NYC teachers Emily Giles and Bill Linville

First Day of School Protest at PS 123 against HSA Charter School’s Invasion

On this very first day of classes, early at 6:30AM, the Community Public School 123, the Harlem Success Academy (HSA), an invading Private Charter School in the same public building on 141 St., and the Dept of Education (DOE), were unusually treated on the street to a excellent hands-on lesson in justice, equality and democracy.

Arriving parents and children were greeted by a spirited yet outraged group of 25 parents, teachers from other schools, and education activists who picketed outside with signs and chants.

The protest denounced the chaos precipitated by the HSA charter takeover of PS 123 classrooms, the disarray to their supplies and furnishings, the DOE’s dictatorial imposition of charter schools, privatization and the resulting “separate and unequal” conditions.

Since the spring, PS 123 parents and teachers have been organizing against the disparities in treatment and are vowing to keep up the struggle to stop this discriminatory, unequal, and emotionally damaging learning environment. They have also vowed to continue to provide a successful education for their PS 123 students despite the unfavorable odds.

About ten PS 123 African-American teachers stood close by in solidarity during Wednesday's protest, but did not join the picket line. The fact that the UFT and DOE had asked them not to shows a total lack of leadership and insensitivity in the face of these glaring, unjust and stressful conditions at PS 123. Mr. Michael McDuffy, of the DOE Office that approves charters, was present but would make no comment.

The invasion and takeover of PS 123’s public school space by Eva Moskowitz’s Charter School, facilitated by Mayor Bloomberg’s dictatorial control of schools, have divided this Harlem facility. It is important to note that by DOE standards, PS 123 was not even a failing school: it received a grade of A for 2008/9. Despite its obvious success, PS 123 students are not seeing the same kinds of classroom renovations and supplies that the lottery-selected HSA charter students have been treated to, even though all students share the same building.

Upon returning to work this Tuesday, tensions flared up again when PS 123 teachers found their first and second floor rooms and corridors in an unwieldy mess (right). As the HSA charter took over the third floor this summer, their movers had evicted the PS 123 teacher materials and consequently left PS 123 books and supplies in disarray. The DOE, UFT officials, and politicians, all of whom had been apprised of the impending chaos, did nothing over the summer. At the start of this new school year, the HSA charter had its entire third floor facilities immaculately cleaned, freshly painted and newly supplied with modern lighting fixtures, toilets, doors, furniture, air conditioning, rugs and smart-board computer technology. HSA also has smaller class sizes.

The disparate conditions angered some PS 123 parents. Betty Barriento remarked, “We want all our children at PS 123 to have the same super-excellent facilities and opportunities. There should be no exceptions to good quality.” William Hargraves, a parent activist, said that PS 123 students are not allowed to use the HSA toilets or pass through their hallways and stairways. After seeing the HSA elite conditions, parent Chris Singleton sadly reacted, “I feel as if my fourth grade daughter is being raped.”

Moskowitz (left), who stood nearby welcoming students, pays herself $360,000+ yearly – a blatant misappropriation of monies that should be earmarked instead to upgrade services for all of PS 123. If Moskowitz had appropriated these funds under our public school system, she would have been indicted for grand larceny.

[Charters by law are exempted from such public oversight, laws and regulations. See “The Truth About Charters” brochure.]

Angel Gonzalez of the Grassroots Education Movement likened Moskowitz to the first Dutch invaders of the Americas: “Just as Conqueror Henry Hudson raided Manhattan, kidnapped Lenape Indians and hijacked their public lands, Moskowitz does the same today. With HSA charters, she takes over public school spaces and dollars as well as hijacks our community’s right to democratic school governance.” Interloper Moskowitz has arrogantly denounced the protesting parents and teachers as folks who “don’t want change and don’t want great schools.”

The picket vociferously denounced this charter-school hijacking and privatization of public schools that is fomented by the DOE. They alternately shouted, “Better Public Schools, Not Private Charters! Money for Public Education, Not Privatization! One City, One School! Stop the Drive to Privatize!”

Jitu Weusi, a member of the Coalition for Public Education, said, “Our protest shows that the public school community sectors are beginning to wake up and exert their voice for collective school governance. It’s a struggle between the attempt to privatize public education and an attempt to keep education public and equal for all — one system for all people. Not this stratified, a privatized system, creating classes within the community. ” Weusi urged parents to get involved and to take a firm stance against these charter school invasions, their attempt to privatize and to sow divisions among our people.

Sonia Harris shared her insights, “Unfortunately disparity is suffered by our children. They will grow up thinking that this group is better than that one. It is not a good picture. Charters need to be regulated. Let’s mobilize and organize. We can do it. Make sure that everyone is served properly. That’s what Martin Luther King died for.” Hopefully, the irresponsible DOE Officials will heed the words of this humble parent and learn a lesson in justice and democracy.

“Beware of those DOE-Charter-School wolves in sheep’s clothing who bear gifts of donuts, drinks, hors d'oeuvres and live music!”

Parents form the "NYC Kids PAC"

More developments in grassroots ed activism.

Here's what Ann Kjellberg sent around two days ago regarding a new Political Action Committee parents have been setting up "to work for the changes we demand in our schools":
Parents learned from the school governance battle in Albany last spring, and the struggle in the City Council for an education capital plan that would address pervasive school overcrowding, that we need elected representatives who take their responsibilities to our kids seriously and act on them when it counts. We call for real action to end overcrowding, ensure parent input, give our children real opportunity and protect their civil rights. We will build parent power through the ballot box.
They're endorsing these candidates in the Sept. 15th primaries:
— For reelection to the City Council, we endorse the six members who voted against the inadequate school capital plan that strands our children in overcrowded schools: in alphabetical order, Charles Barron, Alan Gerson, Robert Jackson, Ken Mitchell, Diane Reyna, and Al Vann;

— For City Council, we endorse Mark Weprin, who as a state Assemblymember voted against the Silver/Padavan legislation that continued the current system of mayoral control, with no checks and balances;

— For City Comptroller, we endorse John Liu, who as Councilmember voted against the school capital plan and demanded enhanced accountability from the DOE as a member of the Council's Education Committee;

— For Public Advocate, we endorse Norman Siegel, for his pro bono work representing the interests of public school parents in the cell phone and Randall's Island lawsuits.

And this is their founding Mission Statement:
NYC Kids PAC will advocate for better schools by supporting candidates for electoral office who have demonstrated a commitment to improving our city’s public schools, particularly in their actual legislative record and policy initiatives in office.

We will endorse candidates who support the following policies:
— Strengthening neighborhood schools;
— Reducing class size and overcrowding;
— Consulting the community when creating and placing new schools;
— Opposing the privatization of public education;
— Reducing test preparation and standardized testing;
— Restoring instruction in science, physical education, music, and art;
— Guaranteeing the civil rights of all students and providing them with an equal opportunity to succeed regardless of race, religion, economic circumstances, neighborhood, English-language proficiency, and special needs;
— Institutionalizing the parent voice in decision-making at the school, district, and citywide levels;
— Ensuring full transparency and accountability in directing resources to these goals.

Implementing these policies will revitalize New York City public schools and equip our children with the tools they need to succeed.

Contact: Ann Kjellberg (917) 250-4665,

It sounds as if they're thinking along the same lines as GEM and all the other ed activist groups in NYC. We hope they'll keep us informed on their activities at

More on the new PAC at Gotham Schools.

— jw

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Comptroller Thompson TOMORROW, on overcrowding report in NYC


New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. will release a comprehensive study finding that new schools being built or planned by the Department of Education will leave tens of thousands of students in overcrowded facilities on Sunday, September 13th at 12:30 pm.

Thompson will be joined by a number of elected officials and advocates, including New York State Senator Liz Krueger, New York City Council Members Robert Jackson and Jessica Lappin, New York State Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner, Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters, and Andy Lachman of Parent Leaders of Upper East Side Schools.
DATE: Sunday, September 13, 2009

TIME: 12:30 pm

PLACE: PS 290, 311 East 82nd St., between lst and 2nd Ave, Manhattan

CONTACT: Laura Rivera, (212) 669-2701 or (646) 265-4249,

A formal welcome to the CPE and CAPE blogs

It's one thing to fight on the streets together and a whole other thing to enter to the education blogosphere. You kind of go national in a nanosecond.

GEM is late in formally welcoming two blogs to this growing community of activists fighting for the soul of public education.

We probably all wish there weren't a need for social action of this kind, but that's a pipedream, and we're lucky that people have the energy to take on the coup in public education.

The Coalition for Public Education's first post was on Aug. 6th, but we refer GEM readers to their more recent newsletter here.

Click the image for a readable version, which focuses on Moskowitz's Harlem Success Academy, whose very name includes one of those pet tag-words of the EdDeform crowd, "success." It's never been defined, and they're never going to, because it's one of those words that can mean almost anything if you manipulate the variables enough.

Concerned Activists for Public Education (CAPE), whose mission is "to lend parent and teacher voices to educational policy and fights to protect and preserve public education," received its first comment from a person (parent? BloomKleinman?) who doesn't yet get it:
"Charter schools are public schools and have the same rights as district schools to use public school buildings. The children attending PAVE are children from your community and district. PS15 is under-utilized. Why are you trying to deny the children of your own community access to a quality education at PAVE. Parents have every right to choose which school they wish to send their children.

CAPE is comprised of teachers who don't want to be held accountable for failing their students and being protected by a union contract that put children last and union dues first.

It's our children, not yours. Do your job and educate our children!!"

I guess some people have a different definition of the word "our" than GEM, CPE or CAPE use. I like our definition better, because theirs has a distinct flavor of Them and Us.

Sam Coleman recently sent around an email inviting people to sign an online petition in CAPE's sidebar:
Please take a minute to sign this petition. PS 15 in Redhook Broklyn has been sharing space with Pave charter school for 2 years. They promised to be out after 2 years and are now filing for an extension. A group of dedicated teachers is organizing to defend their well known and well regarded school. I was at a meeting with these teachers last night and their description of the behavior, attitude and lack educational professionalism of this charter school's administration was hair raising. If they are allowed to stay the charter will continue to expand into PS 15's space. They have a petition at

— jw

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Annenberg small schools conference

Another ed conference scheduled for this month, this time on small schools placed inside big high schools.

Here's how it's described:
Nowhere has the approach of restructuring large comprehensive high schools been implemented as broadly as in New York City. Since 2000, 27 large comprehensive high schools have been closed and reopened as campuses of small schools.

In our third conversation series we will look at some of the consequences of this small schools approach: Do the students who attend the new schools have different characteristics, on average, than students in other schools in the city or in the schools they replaced? How do remaining comprehensive high schools change as nearby schools are closed? A research presentation will be followed by a discussion with principals, community partners, education scholars, teachers, parents, , students, organizers, and policymakers about this important topic.
Before the charter mania, there was the small schools mania, when Big Money Gates helped Joel Klein break up the large high schools into campuses of independent schools. Something on the way to charters, but they were only getting their feet wet in those days. Each school was affiliated with one or more "partners," private entitites who gave money, supplies, and other kinds of support of various and who had a say in much of what was going on in the school. Classes were smaller, capped at 27.

They claimed to be trying to change the environment of "big" and give the kids a sense of belonging to something less overwhelming than a big HSS, but no one ever really explained why the DoE couldn't just ask the high schools to partition themselves into houses or academies under the same general administration and remain a single school, with class sizes reduced in the same way.

That would have saved the competition for space. Large and communal areas in the building could be shared (so could personnel), and certain subjects and services could be offered across all the houses. What was it about those minis that were so darn attractive to Gates and the DoE. The only thing I can think of was that it was easier to bust the unions.

As it turned out, the small school movement failed. Gates admitted as much at a Forum for Education in November 2008, saying in some written remarks:

In the first four years of our work with new, small schools, most of the schools had achievement scores below district averages on reading and math assessments . . .

At our foundation, we believe that success ultimately means that at least 80 percent of low-income and minority students graduate from high school college ready. According to our data, the number of low income and minority students graduating college ready today is 22 percent, and that figure is increasing far too slowly. It’s unacceptable. We need to do better . . .

The disappointing results showed how hard it can be to convert large, low-performing high schools into smaller, more autonomous schools.
Without apologizing for the upheaval of a large public system, Gates and wife seem to have just changed hobbies. This new one has a lot to do with assessing teacher quality, micromanaging of teaching, data manipulation, and so-called standards:
So we’re going to sharpen our focus on effective teaching—in particular supporting new standards, curriculum, instructional tools, and data that help teachers—because these changes trigger the biggest gains, they are hardest to scale, and that is what’s holding us back.
I am curious who the "us" that's getting held back is in the last sentence (he must mean the corporations) and intrigued about what these people consider a "gain" (he must mean tests scores, because they don't concern themselves with much else.)

The discussion on the 22nd is being run by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, whose vision according to their website is to
[work] with school system central offices and community constituencies, to explore and refine the concept of “smart education systems,” networks of schools, community organizations and services that promote high-quality student learning and development inside and outside of schools.
More corporations and more jargon (particularly in that link to "smart education systems"}, but in any case, Jennifer Jennings (aka Eduwonkette) is one of the people running this event and she knows a whole lot about small schools first hand.

It could be an interesting discussion, or it could be more of the same, with experienced teachers knowing in their gut what has to be done in city classrooms and how much isn't being done by Gates or anyone else to provide kids with the services they need. Corporations still prefer to play around with data rather than deal with poverty, families with no health or childcare, and a host of other social issues.

Date: Tuesday, September 22nd
Time: 4:30-6:30 pm
Place: Professional Staff Congress, CUNY 61 Broadway, 16th floor (between Rector and Exchange) R, W or 1 to Rector Street, 4 or 5 to Wall Street RSVP to or call 212.328.9280

Light refreshments, Spanish translation and childcare will be provided

— jw

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Separate and Unequal Schools in NYC: Rally at PS 123 on First Day of School

This the first in a series, with a focus on the tactics of Eva Moskowitz and her Harlem Success Academy machine.

Join our Protest!
Eva Moskowitz and Her Charter School Must Go!
Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
6:30am in the Morning! (and at 3:30PM)
West 141st Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard (8th Avenue)
For more information please contact William Hargraves (718) 812-1102.

Click to enlarge. Pdf available on request.

Here is an email from Mark Torres of the Coalition for Public Education:

Support on the struggle being waged by students, parents, staff, administrators and community of P.S. 123 in Harlem. they have been fighting theft of space and many other injustices perpetrated by Eva Moskowitz and the Bloom/Klein dictatorship.

The P.S. 123 community has worked hard, for over a year, to reach out and resolve problems forced upon them by the charter school invasion of their building. However, Eva Moskowitz and the Bloom/Klein dictatorship have not resolved any problems and are only concerned about pushing more and more private charter schools into public school buildings.

P.S. 123 is now ready to stand up for all public schools in our city and they need our help.

Please support P.S. 123 and defend our public school system.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

This notice is on the airing of a Jonathan Kozol interview — "US Apartheid Education & Flaws in NCLB" — will be repeated at midnight tonight on CSPAN's BookTV program.
Another showing: next Sat., 9/12, 9 a.m. and apparently there

Here's how someone described it:

He also challenges many of the "reform" policies such as the NCLB "teach to the test mania", rote learning, Charter schools and vouchers. He is not afraid to take on Sec. Duncan and others who want to use a business model for education, blaming teachers and their unions , and replacing many experienced African American teachers with White "Kinderwonder" middle class recent Ivy League graduates who will only stay in teaching a few years as they have in New Orleans and Chicago, etc.

He points out how KIPP and Green Dot charter schools cherry pick their elite students while leaving most other poor children in run- down Ghetto schools.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

P.S. 123 — taking to the streets again

GEM has reported a couple of times this summer how Eva Moskowitz (on Klein's left) has been elbowing one of her Harlem Success Academies deeper into P.S. 123 space all summer.

Teachers and parents from 123 mounted their first protest on July 7th after hearing reports that their classrooms were being packed up by HSA movers (non-union, we heard) without warning. Apparently even the school's principal, Beverly Lewis, was not kept in that loop. Angel Gonzalez made a video of the event.

A press release by City Council member Tony Avella for a subsequent demonstration at the school three days later fleshed this out:
On July 2, movers hired by Harlem Success Academy entered PS 123 and began carrying all furniture and computers out of the classrooms and stacking them in the gym, even though a lawsuit by the teachers union and parents had put a stop to the expansion of the charter school. The Department of Education has called the problem “a mistake in communication.”

“It should never be a situation where a charter school comes into a public and literally starts pushing them out, literally starts pushing the kids out from their own local schools. That should never be done. And it's happening here. You don't want it to happen here and I'm here to support the parents.”
Ednotes reported that:
Gem began receiving calls on Thursday evening from PS 123 parents and teachers that the DOE had ruled in favor of Eva Moskowitz and the movers and painters were coming Friday morning. They asked us to be there and we were. That all press reports ignored our strong presence is not surprising.
At that demonstration, protesters demanded: "Paint the whole school!" and Manhattan Borough Prez Scott Stringer was heard assuring people as only politicians can: "We're on the case."

Of course, no one believed him, and of course P.S. 123 never got a coat of new paint. A perfect example of Haves and Have Nots — and how insensitive, no: ruthless the DoE can be when it forces little kids to face disparities in the same building.

In another post describing a third demonstration at the school (on July 20th), we reported on the clarity of the speakers' message.

Quality education should be for all children, not just some of them.

Parent activist Bill Hargraves (left) said: "If the charters go under the umbrella of the DoE, everything should be equal. We have to thank the mayor, because the mayor has woken up the sleeping giant in this city. We will not be rebuffed. We will do this continuously."

Teachers and parents are making good on his word. They're mounting a fourth protest at the school next week and inviting anyone who can make it to come and support the P.S. 123 community.

Stop the Charter School INVASION of our Public Schools!
Eva "Evil" Moskowitz and her charter school must go!
Support the children, parents, staff, administrators
and community of P.S. 123!

Join our Protest!
6:30 am, In the Morning!
Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
Corner of West 141st Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard
(8th Ave.)
Harlem, USA

For more information, please call Mr. William Hargraves
at (718) 812-1102.

— jw

Friday, September 4, 2009

We received a this announcement of a bit of children's theater, so I'm honoring their request to let readers know.

A group of neighborhood children set out to put on a show,
when Dotty Dot attempts to steal the spotlight.

Lessons are
learned and friendships are put to the test.
Filled with song, colorful costumes and valuable lessons,

Dotty Dot is a delightful musical for all ages!


SATURDAYS, September 19th & 26th - 2pm & 4pm
North Lawn - Riverside Park
80th Street & Riverside Drive
Next to River Run Playground

SUNDAYS, September 20th & 27th - 2pm & 4pm
Heckscher Playground - Central Park
7th Avenue & Central Park South
Enter between 61st to 63rd Streets

— jw

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Jones vs. Merriman

GEM member Brian Jones will be on the Laura Flanders show today debating James Merriman IV, the new CEO of the NYC Center for Charter School Excellence.

In Brian's words: "Should be a trip."


Viewing info:
Livestreaming at 12 noon:
Dish Network Channel 9145 at 8pm

For a flowery press release on Merriman's appointment, view here.