Friday, February 26, 2010

Panel for Educational Policy, Feb. 24, 2010: Alev, Khem, Julie, Lisa

CAPE and GEM and a few parent activists were few voices heard standing up for public education in a sea of charter school supporters.

"Where is the UFT?" was a constant refrain we heard last night from reporters and even from some of Klein's Tweedies. Good question as the massive charter school outpouring of parents imprinted an anti public school message, with lots of teacher bashing.

The biggest message left to every public school teacher and parent who supports public schools and every political operative there last night was the utter failure of the UFT, the only agent capable of standing up. But that is nothing new as the UFT did nothing for this meeting, feeling I guess it had done enough on Jan. 26.

Read the CAPE Report:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Brandeis H.S. - Bloom-Klein's Disregard for Higher Need Students

Brandeis High School (BHS):

"A Case Study in Bloomberg’s & Klein’s total disregard for English Language Learners (ELL’s), Special Education and other poor and struggling students"

For many years there were rumors within BHS that the increasingly gentrified neighborhood wanted the well-maintained and located BHS building for “their children”. Local residents and political leaders made no secret of their desire for a local school for the mainly white upper middle class junior high graduates of the surrounding gifted and talented programs as well as the highly regarded Computer Middle School. With limited seats and the increasingly selective admissions criteria to the Beacon High School and the deepening economic crisis, many upper middle class parents no longer want to pay for private schools. These forces were able to make common cause with a DOE who is seeking to close large struggling academic high schools that serve students of color.

BHS has historically served a large population of recent immigrants primarily from neighborhoods outside the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Its health careers and business internships, Art Academy, Music Program, extensive Bilingual and Special Education Services, LYFE Centerand School Based Health Clinic have attracted students of color from throughout the city. In addition, each year BHS opened its doors to an inordinate amount of “over the counters” (students new to the U.S. or N.Y.C., those with histories of interrupted formal education, expelled from other schools, coming out of residential treatment, juvenile justice, Rikers Island and from nearby domestic violence and homeless shelters.

Despite the escalating social and educational needs of the student body, the school remained underresourced. The so called school leadership actually reduced the social supports and youth development programs available to students. They also refused to bring representatives of all the stakeholders together and analize the school community in order to develop a comprehensive educational plan to attack issues of poor attendance, gang violence and educational deficits. Instead they chose to blame the victims and their supporters.

Their major scapegoats were students and their parents as well as sympathetic teachers and other staff. Many committed educators were either forced out or left in frustration. The administration increasingly utilized poorly trainned and low wage school safety officers and even N.Y.P.D. officers to deal with social and discipline issues better handled by guidance counselors and social workers. For the students, the atmosphere in the school is more like a juvenile justice facility than a public high school. Nobody is exempt, even relatively well performing students are suspect.

The Parent Coordinator position has been kept vacant. Parents with few exceptions are marginalized to the life of the school. When they are invited in it is usually for disciplinary meetings.

When the NYT announced the closing of BHS, they never dealt with the tremendous success stories. Nor did they mention the recent immigrants, those students needing to work full time to help their struggling families or those young women returning to school after giving birth who were able to against all odds graduate in 5 or 6 years and go on to college. What they did extol is the virtues of an educational leadership who failed in their responsibility to defend their students and seek creative solutions to address the school’s problems. Instead the NYT and this mayor and chancellor conveniently placed the blame for the school’s closure on “poor students and their uncaring and uneducated parents” and bad teachers.

One year after the announced closing, “three small schools” coexist with a dying Brandeis within the building. These three small schools, two having only 9th grade and one a “transfer school” are contending with the exact same students and their issues as BHS with a less experienced staff. Meanwhile the race is on to reduce the BHS student body as quickly as possible. Fewer classes are being offerred and less staff is available to support students who are trying to succeed while repeatedly hearing that their school as well as they, their families and teachers are failures. They look to school staff for stability, but they too are fearful for their future and don’t know where they’ll be from semester to semester. Overage students are encouraged to seek GED Programs. Others are told to apply for transfer schools. But even the students know that there are few options for students who are undercredited, ELL’s, Special Education and young parents needing childcare.

Despite the fanfare regarding their arrival in Sept. 09, neighborhood lore is that all or some of the current 3 new schools will probably be expendable when the “real deal” the Frank McCourt School for Journalism “ a rigorous academic high school” looking for high marks on standardized tests comes into the Brandeis Campus and is fully populated.

Submitted by Ana Kaona

High School Runaround for a New Haiti Arrrival

Chesna Gelin arrived in the U.S. on January 26, 2010, a survivor of the earthquake that wracked Haiti two weeks before. She is 17 years old and may have braced herself for the cold weather and strangeness of her newly adopted city. But the more vexing challenge was her search for a school to attend. It was an ordeal that she says brought her to tears.

She went to a Department of Education (DOE) placement center on Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn. On the first visit she was flatly turned away. The next time she was sent on a wild goose chase to Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day High School in Manhattan. When she got there they said she couldn’t get in until June.

Her father contacted Flambwayan, a Haitian literacy center in the Flatbush neighborhood and a youth organizer, Josmene Guerrier responded, doing what she has been doing for several families every month and escorted the girl and her father for the rest of their tour of school offices. Eventually Chesna landed in the Emma Lazarus High School for English Language Learners in Chinatown. She began attending on February 22, after the winter break.

According to Flambwayan’s director, Darnell Benoit, the process of helping families find schools began to require four to six weeks during the final months of last year. Prospective students need their parents to take off from work to be with them, and Benoit says it is not unusual for immigrants newly arriving in mid-year to simply give up and wait for the next school year.

NY News 12 coverage of Chesna Gelin’s story drew a response from a DOE official that who claimed, “the city has enough space to meet the demand” and referred to programs at Clara Barton and Midwood high schools. Both of the large schools named have been dealing with overcrowding for years, and according to Benoit neither were offering seats at this point in the year.

Chesna’s commute from Crown Heights to Chinatown and the mind-boggling admissions gauntlet that prevents some new arrivals (“over the counter” students in DOE parlance) from enrolling at all are the product of eight years of Gates Foundation-funded “high school reform” policies. The result of these privately-funded policies since 2002 has been the wholesale closing of neighborhood schools, the exclusion of English Language Learners from many of newly opened small schools and their segregation in a few of them.

The small schools that the students find themselves in use an English-immersion model exclusively. Bilingual education programs that Brooklyn neighborhood high schools once offered to large numbers of Haitian, Chinese and Latino students are now just part of the rubble of demolished school communities and no earthquake can be blamed for that.

Submitted by Redrooster

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Teachers Unite and NYCoRE are teaming up. . .to bring you a SOCIAL JUSTICE ORIENTED UFT!!!

Remember to RSVP! Don't miss the historic, first time ever candidates forum for UFT elections!

Democracy in action!

February 26, 2010

5:00 – 7:00 PM

New York University

Silver Building, Room 714

100 Washington Square East

New York, NY



EXTRA! EXTRA! UFT elections coming up!!! Want to know more about how our union leaders get elected? Want to have a say, and push our union to be more social justice oriented?

Hello NYCoRE community,

We want to invite everyone to this first major collaboration between NYCoRE and Teachers Unite. A team of folks from the two groups have been working since the fall on a platform for the upcoming UFT wide election, this March. All the leadership positions, including president are up for election. . . .by us, the members.

We felt it was time that we put out a strong statement about what we would like to see the union fight for and prioritize. Attached is the Teachers Unite/NYCoRE platform for a social justice union and the flier for the candidates forum (feel free to disseminate widely). Below is the info for the candidates forum. Come meet some of the folks running for elected positions, learn about the different caucuses that exist in our union and about some of the differences between them.

hope to see you there,

Rosie, Sally and Sam

Teachers Unite and NYCoRE

Whose Map Is It?

Feeling the heat James?

Dear Norm,
I have in front of my a brochure from your organization (dated August 9, 2009) that uses our map prominently. While I certainly have no problem with you using the information on the map, I do have a problem with you using the map itself. Its colors, look and feel, are very much associated with the Center and therefore your use of it confuses the reader that we support the positions taken in the brochure. Accordingly, I must insist that you cease immediately distributing the brochure with our map image in any shape or form—equally please remove the map from your website.
I thank you in anticipation of your cooperation.
James D. Merriman
Chief Executive Officer
111 Broadway, Suite 604, New York, NY 10006
T: 212.437.8302 F: 212. 227.2763
It's about great public schools

GEM Scares 'Em: Klein Urges Achievement First Charter School Parents to Come Out

Cross post from Ed Notes:

GEM on the radar.

This was passed on from a parent.

Of course while the charter schools are rallying at 4:30 the UFT will be holding another staged Delegate Assembly, leaving the field open. I rsvp to Courtney telling her that GEM will be there and thanking her for the plug.

The UFT is holding a Delegate Assembly tomorrow and thus won't have much of a presence unless they follow my advice and adjourn the meeting and take them all uptown to counter the pro-Klein forces. But how does the UFT organize to stop co-locations when they have their 2 charter schools occupying public schools? I was at the PS 92 charter school hearing last night and no presence from the UFT.

Thus, the Jan. 26 action at PEP looks like a one-shot deal for the UFT. Now let the courts do their thing? Rip Van Winkle time?

Note how the letter mentions GEM and uses " around grassroots. As if GEM was being organized anywhere outside of the schools. Ironically, though GEM as an organization is not involved in the UFT elections, almost every activist in GEM is running on the ICE-TJC slate in the elections against Mulgrew's Unity. So any attempts to paint the opponents of charter schools as a union front group will not work.


I wanted to invite you to be a part of an exciting and important event in the fight for NYC school reform. This coming Wednesday, February 24, 2010, the NYC Department of Education’s Panel for Educational Policy will meet to decide whether to allow public charter schools to have continued access to NYC public school buildings. In fact, one of our newest schools, Achievement First North Crown Heights / AF Apollo (Jabari Sims’s new school), is up for specific discussion and decision. As you know, the Chancellor has been incredibly supportive of high-performing charter schools and sees us as a vital part of his overall reform strategy – but there is increasing opposition to his policy of providing charters with access to public school buildings (for example, see attached literature from GEM – a “grassroots” group that is opposing charters and spreading false information). At a local hearing specific to the new AF school last week, protestors outside chanted “We don’t want you in our school!” and, as Jabari says in an email to his fellow principals pasted below, pro-charter folks were outnumbered and out-organized. The Chancellor has asked AF specifically to step up, help turn the tide, and to have a big turnout for the city-wide hearing on Wednesday night; he views it – and we agree – as one of the biggest battles to date in NYC’s overall school reform movement.

This is a case where numbers matter. Our NYC schools are organizing a big parent turnout, and we hope to have at least 200 AF parents and staff who will join with likely a thousand or more charter school supporters from around the city. It should be a heck of a night. In order to make it easier for everyone, we have arranged for a bus to leave from Waverly at 3:30 P.M. to take any AF staff (and AF Endeavor families) who are interested to the High School for Fashion Industries in Manhattan where there is a planned rally for charter school supporters at 4:30 P.M., followed by the hearing itself at 6:00 P.M. Our buses will leave to return to Waverly around 8:15 P.M. (arriving before 9:00) – but it will undoubtedly be a long night of testimony for anyone who wants to stay later and enjoy all the fireworks.

If you are able, please join us with us. Please RSVP to

What: Meeting of the Panel of Education Policy

When: Wednesday, February 24, 6:00 p.m.

Bus Departs Waverly at 3:30 P.M.

Charter School Supporters Rally at 4:15 P.M.

Hearing at 6:00 P.M.

Where: The High School of Fashion Industries

225 West 24th Street, Manhattan

It should be a big and important night. We’re fired up, and ready to lend AF’s strong voice to the Chancellor’s reform effort. Please join us if you can.

Many Minds, One Mission.

Friday, February 19, 2010

CEJ calls for moratorium on school co-locations

This message from The Coalition for Educational Justice

No more pitting of schools against schools and parents against parents!

On Tuesday, February 23rd at 11AM outside of Tweed, the Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ) will be calling for a moratorium on co-locations until there is an independent source of information on utilization and impact. District school and charter school parents will stand together to demand a fair process that does not divide parents or favor some schools over others.

Please join us!

Megan Hester
Community Organizing and Engagement
Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University

Saturday, February 13, 2010

How the charter end game will hurt public education

A NYC parent writes:

I have no problem with charter schools per se. I have a real problem with them entering public school spaces, enforced ‘sharing’ of facilities and having cluster rooms of public schools taken away to give space to Charter schools. I don’t mind Charter schools I just fiercely refute the idea of public schools being the poor cousin, with space and energy being stripped away. If it was mandated that charter schools had to find/fund their own facilities, with no access to public school space, I believe in that system far more! Also, I want more oversight of charter schools, and more parental involvement within them. How does one gauge whether a CS is failing?

Lots of questions still to ask…

GEM's Seung Ok responds:

There are several important reasons why charter schools not only harm public school children, but are a direct threat to public education as we know it. The harm is not ideological in nature, it is direct. I just attended the expansion hearing of KIPP into PS 195 in Harlen this Monday - and it is heartbreaking to hear that PS 195 students have class in the cafeteria. The teacher must ask the other students who are having lunch to quiet down, so instruction can happen. And if this isn't unbelievable enough, KIPP is expanding from its current grades of 5-8, to K-8.

More than a few PS 195 teachers got up to demand that KIPP teachers stop threatening charter school students with the admonishment,"Do you want to be like them?" The lesson hammered into these children every single day in that partitioned environment is one of segregation. The public school students are made to feel less, and the charter school children learn that personal advantage gained by harm to others is not only an entitlement of their talent, but a necessity.

But let's assume the above injustices to public school students were not happening, and charter schools obtained their own space - there is still a troubling aspect to the charter school movement - and that is its endgame. If the ultimate goal is to help the vast majority of minority students; and we can believe the sincerity of the billionaires and politicians who are steering this movement, than I'll support charter schools full heartedly.

The actions of these NYC charters however tell a much different tale than the benevolent words they speak. They are invading spaces of A rated schools (examples, ps. 15 in Redhook Brooklyn, ps 123, and ps. 195 in Harlem, etc.) If the claim is to want to help the neediest children, then why are they choosing building with A rated public schools that are successfully helping their communities. And when you see the comparisons between the two co-located schools in the same building, why is it, that the charter school has significant lower special ed and ELL students than it's counterpart - when they both seemingly draw from the same community?

The answer is that charter schools in NYC are not so much a solution for closing the achievement gap but a deceptive horse and pony show for another more ambitious agenda - and that is to convince us to privatize the whole public school system. Imagine a city where the law limiting the number of charter schools was removed. All those years of pent up frustration by privileged parents spending thousands for private schools can be released with one great sigh of relief. We will start to see mostly white charter schools arise in neighborhoods like the Upper West Side. Let's not forget how expensive real estate is in NYC. A public school building is a million dollar gift.

And a unique and surprising thing will happen. All that private money funneling into black and Latino charter schools will dry up. The money that once surprisingly made its way to Harlem and Brooklyn, will support the charter schools that the millionaires' and billionaires' children attend. There is a finite amount of private money - and it's just a matter of practicality to ration it out if charter schools litter the educational landscape; the donors must prioritize their wads of money, and human nature being what it is - they will fund their own neighborhood's charter schools than not.

So, where will Black and Latino communities find themselves - a place much worse than they were before. Their successful public schools having been decimated - closed and phased out, their struggling schools left overcrowded, and their abandoned charter schools left under funded - all destroying the gains made in the past several decades of hard earned work by so many stakeholders.

Doesn't this have a familiar ring to it? Just think back to a recent phenomenon, that of sub prime mortgages. In the beginning, it was sold to America by the likes of George Bush, Newt Gingrich, and Phil Gram as a civil rights issue of getting minorities into houses. Mortgage companies made billions making loans to people that could not afford them. If anyone could go back in time and demand these loans be stopped, they would be labeled a racist, and be ridiculed.

And now these same political characters mentioned above are pushing the charter school agenda: Now they declare that education is the civil rights issue of our times. Coincidence? And in President Obama's defense, his mother sent him to the best international private schools in Hawaii and abroad - no wonder that his knowledge of public schools seems as ill formed as President Bush's. So while Obama tries to convince the nation to curtail the worse aspects of a privatized health care system, he is conversely promoting the worse aspects of privatization to the delivery of education in Chicago, and now, the country.

So the fight to defend public education against charter schools, is more than about space, teacher unions, or a lottery system; it is to stop the manipulation of Black and Latino communities as chess pieces in a game to benefit the elite classes in our society. While the struggling parents in impoverished areas are positioned to fight each other for the scraps of space and funding that has been allotted by our society, the privileged lay waiting in the sidelines until all the energy is sapped out - and the doorway to unregulated access to taxpayer money opens.

Seung Ok

More from Seung Ok on the CREDO Sanford Charter school study:

The Credo study on NYC Charter schools is an academic sham. Here is the proof: If you click the link at the end of this email and go to the bottom of page 4, under the heading: School Level Comparisons, it notes:

"The test for New York City schools was slightly different than the test employed in CREDO’s earlier national study. Because all the NYC schools are drawn from the same education market, there was no need to control for market differences across all the schools, as was the case in the earlier national analysis.Instead, it sufficed to use simple t-tests of each pair of schools; that is, that charter school performance against the performance of its associated comparison group. The student learning gains were averaged for each school and then compared for statistical differences.""

So, this test did not control for the fact that charter schools send out invitations to level 3 and level 4 students? It doesn't control for the fact that charter schools use a self selecting lottery system versus open enrollment? It doesn't factor in class size and building overcrowding? It doesn't factor in per pupil spending? It doesn't factor in how charters release students who they feel don't measure up to their "contract" standards?

So basically, in this study's perspective, all Black and Latino students are pretty much the same. Forget that there are talented students, strugglings students, students in shelters, students with two parents, students with one parent...etc. Wow, how can Stanford University put their name to such a flimsy piece of so called "scientific" study. Any high school science student can tell you that the experiment group and the control group must control for all possible variables except the one being tested.

So, there are two possibilities here. Either Credo/Stanford University are ignorant of these "marget differences" or they are biased supporters of charter schools. Either way, shame on them.

Seung Ok - GEM, Grassroots Education Movement

Girls Prep Charter and District One: Who is at risk?

by Lisa Donlan (UPDATED WITH VIDEO FROM FEB. 11 Hearing)

NYS Charter Law indicates that the purpose of creating new charter schools across the state is, among other goals, to:

•Increase learning opportunities for all students, with am emphasis on at-risk students,

The schools that DoE has identified as sites for Girls Prep co location (incubated in PS 15 in Manhattan in 2005 and moved to PS 188 in 2008) are serving a much more significant proportion at-risk students more consistently than Girls Prep does.

In 2009 GPCS, under the guise of a charter renewal, has decided to expand by 3 grades and an additional section or class on each grade.

PS 94 a D75 autism school that is spread around in disparate classrooms in cubbies and corners and top floors of 4 different d One schools has 9 classes on the 5th floor of the PS 188 building 5th floor .

. The GPCS expansion will pare the P94 4-8th grade autism program down to the minimum a program can sustain and still exist- just 5 classes. With one room left for other essential services which include a sensory room , a tech lab and theater classes.

Just so the favored child, GPCS can grow.

It is hard to understand but the P94 school has had to move 5 times in 5 years.

That is right- kids who are very sensitive and have difficulty reacting to changes in routine have moved 5 times in 5 years. The last time was 2 years ago so that GPCS could move into PS 188. To do so, GPCS revised their charter to a K-5th, with 2 sections per grade.

Now that their brand new CMO ( PublicPrep- that includes Eva’s husband and Spencer Robertson’s wife) that takes 7-10% of the NYS dollars the school receives has declared its mission to open a new single sex academy every two years from 2009- 14 (don’t worry, Boys Prep is coming to Harlem soon!) a rapid influx of dollars is needed.

If you read Malcolm Gladwell’s recent article in the NYEr you know that the supposed risk-taker entrepreneurs actually don’t take risks at all- they bet on the sure that the other guys just don’t see yet. In this case the sure thing is OUR tax dollars1

Meanwhile PS 188 has already given up after school programs, adult ESL classes and PT and speech are in the hallway or in the back of other classes.

Special ed is now roaming on a cart.

But look at the numbers- GPCS hardley serves any District kids – it is a commuter school; no ELL's and kids w/IEPS for SETTS- speech and tutoring, mainly.

Who is at risk here?

Tell me how they get away with calling THIS a civil rights issue!


District One


Girls Prep

P.S. 188

P.S. 15

Total enrollment





% Charter






SC Classes





CTT Classes



















% Title One



(50% free lunch)



#/ =%STH





% in district



% out of district


% Hispanic





% Black














%Am Indian





Girls Prep Charter Code of Values include:
show respect for others
support those who need help
value others as learners, teachers, leaders
choose to do the right thing (even when no one is watching)
work together to make the community better

Friday, February 12, 2010

Notes and Pics on Cypress Hills meeting...

Notes by John S. of CAPE

At about 4:30 there were several people, community members, parents and children.
Once the after school let out, the kids rallied with everyone and several more parents/adults came.

The after school staff rallied with the parents! VERY COOL.

Channel 12 was there covering the story.
The superintendent read the proposal.... it made me feel sick ... so many statements that we heard before, loaded with lies.

Someone from SUNY was there and she said there will be transparency ..... yeah right. (did someone from SUNY come to our hearing?)
A CEC19 person spoke. (too nice to the doe, but supporting the school)

The UFT rep spoke. (too nice to the mayor and doe, but supported the school)

Two charter school people spoke first.

As always, very nice and calm thanking the community, being open, and they used their insulting tag line "All our children go to college." No one goes to college if they are not from a charter school?

The community spoke,
One lady pointed out that the proposal and what the SUNY lady mentioned make it seem as if it was a done deal already. She thought this was a public hearing to make a decision!

She was correct of course, and the meeting was really a farce. Yes, it is a state mandate to have a public hearing but that is just to appease the mandate, not to hear, listen to or even attempt to work with the school community.
They community presented 1000+ signatures and letters from several elected officials.

GEM spoke twice,(it is nice to see these people out there fighting for public education).
I spoke and made a statement on behalf of CAPE.
The meeting lasted until about 8 PM.
Once again, not many parents showing up in this school...and so it goes....and so it goes.
Yours truly,
John S.

Pics by John L. of GEM