Friday, December 31, 2010

Rally to Support John Jay High School

Join the John Jay High School Campus as we 
We Demand:
  •  Equal Funding and Resources for ALL students  in the John Jay building.
  •  No Scanners! Our Students are not criminals!
  •  End Apartheid Education - INTEGRATE JOHN JAY NOW!
  •  No Co-Location in the John Jay building.

January 11, 2010

Protest 5:00-6:00 pm

Public Hearing: 6:00 pm.

John Jay High School Campus

237 7th Ave.

Brooklyn, NY
Join us 5:30pm January 19 at the Panel for Educational Policy at Brooklyn Technical High School

Read about our struggle at:

Follow us on Twitter

Monday, December 27, 2010

Join the Coalition to Stop School Closings and Charter Invasions!

Join Us On January 5th @ 5pm:
CUNY Graduate Center
(34th St and 5th Ave)
Room 5409
Fight Backs for the months of January and February are being planned.  Schools on the Closing and Transformation Lists and Schools facing Charter Invasions are encouraged to attend.

Lend your voice to the movement to Stop School Closings.  Stop Charter Invasions.  Defend Public Education.  and to Stop Privatization.

All are welcome!

A City-Wide Rally is Set for January 27th!  Together, let's build a massive demonstration and demand an end to the destructive policies of school closings and unwanted charter co-locations in our public school buildings.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It is Time to FIGHT BACK!

All are welcome to join an Ad Hoc Organizing Meeting to fight back against:
-school closings
-charter invasions and privatization
-school transformations/restructuring

Tuesday, December 21st
CUNY Graduate Center
(34th St and 5th Ave)
Room 5409

You are invited to help build this major campaign.
Bring your ideas to this planning meeting.
We will plan mobilizations to the Mayor's PEP meetings,
to DOE hearings to close schools and to invade with charters,
and to pressure City Hall and the Mayor.
The campaign will involve letter writing, petitions, media blitzes, talks, workshops, forums,videos, fight-back Fridays, and much much more.
With your involvement we can build this campaign and this movement to promote quality education and to stop the drive to privatize.

Join us.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Join GEM at the Panel for Educational Policy Meeting December 14 at Brooklyn Tech

The Education Deformers
On Teachers, Parents and Children
Join the Grassroots Education Movement and the Real Reformers as they battle to end the status quo of mayoral control, the degrading of the teaching profession, the misuse and manipulation of data to close schools, the marginalization of parent, educator, and student voices, and the attempts to corporatize and privatize the public education system. Meet them at....
The Panel for Educational Policy Meeting
Dec. 14, 2010
Brooklyn Technical HS
Subways, M, Q, R to DeKalb Avenue; C to Lafayette Avenue; G to Fulton Street; 2, 3, 4, 5 to Nevins Street
Real Reformers will perform.  Click Sing Along With GEM for lyrics.

Leonie Haimson wrote on the NYC Public School Parent blog:
The DOE set the closing schools up for failureMost of these students at these schools continue to suffer from overly large classes that far exceed the state average of twenty students per class, as well as the goals in the city’s mandated class size reduction plan. In fact, class sizes have risen sharply in most of the schools slated for closure.

For example, check out the increases in class size at Beach Channel High school, one of the schools on today’s list of closures, which have occurred despite a promise from the DOE to make specific reductions at this school in return for hundreds of millions of dollars in Contract For Excellence funds.

Cathie Black says class size doesn't matter. Average class size at Kent boarding school where Cathie Black sent her children: 12 students per class
Why attend PEP meetings?
The Bloomberg controlled panel has to face the public once a month and even though most members are rubber stamps, they must sit through public comments before they vote. By attending we help build public pressure and advocate for real reforms. We also help support the only two independent members of the PEP, Patrick Sullivan (Manhattan) and Monica Major (Bronx). Finally, it provides an opportunity for Real Reformers to meet and take action together.

Real Reformers stand up for teachers, children and parent rights
Real Reformers fight back against those who shamelessly use the language of the civil rights movement to assault the very rights they claim to defend.  The defenders of the status quo are all about adults who are looking to game the system for their own benefits and not the children they claim to defend. (Just check some of the salaries charter school operators make, even when the results, even with their additional corporate funding, are often no better or worse than comparable public schools.
Defending teacher rights and advocating for better learning conditions for children are not incompatible. Children benefit when teachers with job security and decision making power have the freedom to advocate for their interests.
Cathie Black's appointment as chancellor sends a message that educational qualifications don't matter, reinforced by statements she has made negating teaching experience as an important factor. Many of our faculty have advanced degrees and our average tenure is more than a dozen years.
- KENT school, where Black sent her children
You’ve got to hand it to the public relations firm hired by the New York City Department of Education. The tag line they’ve come up with—“Children First. Always.”—is exactly what a school system should be championing. The Cathie Black controversy aside, critics point to the fallacy of the slogan, citing ongoing problems in the school system, including overcrowded classrooms, insufficient supplies, and the Department of Education’s capitulation to the standardized testing craze that’s been sweeping the nation.- The Brooklyn Rail

The Ad hoc committee to
Stop School Closures and Co-Locations meets
Tuesday, December 21, 4:30PM
CUNY, 34st and 5th Ave. Rm 5409.
Join Us and Fight Back!
Defend Public Education.  Stop Privatization.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sing Along With GEM

 "which side are you on", (listen to pete seeger sing it here) 

Which side are you on

Gather round good teachers
Listen to my tale
Of how the ole DOE
Put  our schools up for sale

Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?

In nations the world over
Teacher unions rise
Its time in NYC
To open up our eyes
which side are you on. . .
Calling all stakeholders
Hold those stakes up high
Drive them right into the heart
Of the plan to privatize
which side are you on. . .
Come down to new york city
And look us in the eyes
Either you want community schools
Or you want to privatize
My momma was a teacher
And I’m a teacher’s son
We’ll struggle,  for our rights
until this fight is done

Sam Cooke's "what a wonderful world", (listen to sam sing it here)

What a Wonderful World

They don’t know how to teach history
They don’t know how to teach biology
They don’t know much about a science book
They don’t know much bout the cuts we took

but they do know how to close down schools
we’re fighting back you know that we’re not fools
what wonderful schools these could be

They know a lot about charter schools
And they think that merit pay is cool
They think kids are just high stakes tests
They don’t care about all the rest

Parents teachers students know there’s more
know there’s more to us than just test scores
What wonderful schools these could be
Now Cathie Black may be an A student
and that’s fine with me
and, I may be a great teacher, baby
but I don’t run a magazine
We know how to teach history
We’re good at teaching biology
We’re out here fighting for real reforms
We read a blog by a guy named Norm
Who are these deforms really for
Go down to wall street and take a tour
Just look in their wallet and you’ll see
and they do know how union bust
solidarity is a must
what wonderful work this could be

Monday, December 6, 2010

GEM Meeting Tuesday, Dec. 7 at CUNY

Eleven more schools to be closed announced, more to come -

Coming to a School Near You
Increasing Class Sizes
                                  and Teacher Excessing-
                                               Are You Next???
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

Join the Grassroots Education Movement/GEM to find out how you can
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
Grassroots Education Movement -

GEMers will be there at 4:30 to chat.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The latest list of the 55 schools potentially targeted for closing from the DOE

.... handed out at a briefing for elected officials after the release of the HS progress reports around 11/15/10.

Click on the jpg below:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fightback Fridays: Sheepshead Bay HS Rally to Save the School From Closing

The Sheepshead Bay HS community in Brooklyn held a rally to save the school on Nov. 19, 2010. It is worthy to note that a group of teachers from John Dewey HS which has been holding weekly Fightback Friday rallies came in support. One Sheepshead teacher, seeing the, broke into tears. Dewey is holding a rally Fri. Dec. 3 at 3pm. SHow your support. Note comments at the end by City Councilman Lou Fidler.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

John Dewey HS Fights Back

---- For Immediate Release -----
Monday November 29, 2010

John Dewey High School


This week’s rally will begin at 3p.m. on Friday December 3rd.  The John Dewey High School community will be joined by faculty from Sheepshead Bay High School.  The JDHS faculty rallied to support Sheepshead Bay a few weeks ago.

This will be Dewey’s fifth “Fight Back Friday” rally and will be held from 3-4 p.m. outside the main gate on Stillwell Avenue.  “Fight Back Fridays” have been drawing more than 200 demonstrators including students, faculty, parents, alumni and community members.

For follow-up information please contact:
Friends of Dewey: Robert Kanyuk at
Council for Unity: Robert DeSena (founder) at
John Dewey Alumni Association: Teri Brennan at

John Dewey High School was opened in 1969; it is located at 50 Avenue X, Brooklyn.  The school was designed around John Dewey’s core philosophies of student centric education.  John Dewey: "Education is not something to be forced upon children and youth from without, but is the growth of capacities with which human beings are endowed at birth."

Friends of Dewey was established by a variety of individuals and groups concerned with maintaining and restoring John Dewey High School’s innovative and historically successful education model.  Members include:  current faculty, parents, alumni, former faculty, Council for Unity, Coalition for Educational Justice, notable faculty from NYU Steinhardt School of Education, Brown University

Council for Unity was a program created at John Dewey High School in 1975.  It has since become a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization that specializes in reducing violence in schools and communities. CFU has developed a curriculum utilized in several NYC schools that has helped to resolve issues of safety, bias, bullying and gang violence.  The at-risk students who participate in the CFU curriculum have significantly higher graduation rates than their peers. The 2010 graduation rate of CFU participants at JDHS is 96%.

-                      Council for Unity – main site:     video site:
-                      John Dewey Alumni Assoc.- Archives:

GEM E-Bulletin: December 1, 2010

GEM E-Bulletin:  December 1, 2010

Who We Are: 

The Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) is a New York City based group that educates, organizes and mobilizes educators, parents, students and communities to defend public education against the corporate and government policies that underfund, undermine and privatize our public school system. GEM advocates both within and outside the UFT for the equality and quality of public education services and the rights of school workers. (Read more). Check out our points of unity and our blog. (


GEM opposes Cathie Black as chancellor
Still time to say NO to Cathleen Black and The Chancellor "Compromise"

Go to GEM blog, upper right side panel

Deny Black Waiver Press Conference at Tweed Makes News: GEM was in the house

Parents and Educators See Red!

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

Thursday, Dec. 2, 4pm: 
Who:  Parents, students and teachers, WEAR RED on Thursday in protest and join us at our rally to demand an chancellor who:
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


Upcoming Events:

GEM December Meeting: Tuesday, December 7, 2010, 4:30-7pm 
Room 5409 CUNY Graduate Center
34th and 5th Ave., Room 5414 (Bring ID)

Trains: N, R, D, F, Q, B, W, V, 6, 1/2/3

Coming to a school near you: Higher Class Sizes and Teacher Excessing: Are You Next???   

NYC Public Schools are Under Attack!

NYC public schools are already criminally underfunded and 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

Find Out More:

Background Articles:  
"Class Sizes Grew in City Despite Deal to Cut Them" /18class.html?partner=rss&emc=rss 
"Bloomberg Plans to Cut 10,000 City Jobs by 2012"


Tuesday, December 14, 5:30 p.m. 
Panel for Educational Policy meeting, details to follow on the GEM blog


What's on the GEM Blog:
Rally at Sheepshead Bay High School in Brooklyn against another Bloomberg/Klein school closing:
The Real Reformers stand up at the November 16 PEP:

Articles of Interest:
(These articles reflect the opinions of the authors, and not necessarily those of the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) as a whole)
A Special Education teacher from PS 15 in Brooklyn (and a GEM member) Julie Cavanagh explains what's wrong with the Teacher Data Reports: "Not Making the Grade"
Harlem elementary teacher Brian Jones debunks the education de-formers claim to the mantle of civil rights and Arne Duncan's claim that the film Waiting for Superman constitutes a "Rosa Parks moment":  "Charter Schools and Civil Rights:  What Kind of Movement is This?"


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.

See videos of the PS 165 fightback and of the CEC3 meeting at the GEM blog:

NOTE: The PS 165 fightback against Harlem Success seems to have been working and Moskowitz is shifting towards recruiting white middle and upper class students by aiming for space in Brandeis HS, which is closing down.


We couldn't make this up:
Gates gives policy advice
Bill Gates has some advice to state superintendents on how to deal with their budget crises.  Don't reward teachers for Master's Degrees.  Those don't matter, nor does seniority.  Bill Gates "also urges an end to efforts to reduce class sizes" and "You can't fund reforms without money.  And there is no money."  I guess that's where his own foundation's $30 billion (with another $30 billion on the way from Warren Buffet) comes in.....
GEM makes the Wall Street Journal (we must be doing something right!)
From the Wall Street Journal editorial of October 5, 2010.
The odd complaint is that donors to charter schools include some hedge fund managers.
Or maybe not so odd. Teachers unions and the public school monopoly have long benefitted from wielding a moral trump card. They claimed to care for children, and caring was defined solely by how much taxpayers spent on schools.

That moral claim is being turned on its head as more Americans come to understand that teachers unions and the public bureaucracy are the main obstacles to reform. Movies such as "Waiting for 'Superman'" and "The Lottery" are exposing this to the larger American public, leaving the monopolists to the hapless recourse of suggesting that reformers are merely the tools of hedge fund philanthropists. 

The Manhattan protest was sponsored by the Grassroots Education Movement, which was co-founded by Norman Scott, a retired public school teacher. Mr. Scott says the group has nothing to do with the United Federation of Teachers, and that it's comprised of New York City teachers and parents who have been "adversely affected by charter schools." Mr. Scott told us he and several others are developing their own film, "The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for 'Superman.'" That's a nod to Davis Guggenheim, who directed Al Gore's climate change documentary before he did "Superman."
We saw a trailer for this anti-"Superman" film, which denounces most of the leading advocates for charter schools. The irony is that most of those criticized are Democrats or noted liberals who've been mugged by public school reality. 

Check out the trailer for "The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman":
The movie premiers this January. If you're interested in showing the film at your school or having a film party in your home, contact GEM at

917-992-3734 for information