Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Real Reformers Stood Up: Video of the Rap at the Waiting for Superman Gap

Here is a compilation of the performances of Will the Real Reformers Please Stand Up! at the Loews Lincoln Square movie theater at the Waiting for Superman premiere on Sept. 24, 2010. It includes a brief section of the Real Reformers running into Michael Moore on the street (It was opening night at the NY Film Festival.) See press release below.

Press Release                                  
Date:  Wednesday, September 29, 2010   
Contact: Norm Scott: 917-992-3734

Parents and Teachers, the Real Reformers, Organize Response to “Waiting for Superman”

On Friday, September 24th, parents and teachers participated in a demonstration outside of the premier of “Waiting for Superman”.  The film, which has garnered significant publicity in recent days, has taken the lead in framing the conversation regarding education reform.  A grass roots group, The Real Reformers, reject this framework and offered an alternative voice to the conversation.

Explaining the impetus for Friday night’s actions and the development of a forthcoming grassroots documentary, Julie Cavanagh, a teacher in Red Hook, Brooklyn said, “We felt compelled to demonstrate a resistance to a film that can be described only as propaganda.  The film continues to propagate myths about the so-called crisis in education and further espouses false claims about supposed reforms and reformers that are garnering much of the media’s attention right now.  It is time for Real Reformers to stand up, and lead the conversation on what works in our public schools, and the policies needed to improve our public schools.  There are no easy answers.  Viewing charter schools as a silver bullet and blaming teachers, the vast majority of whom work tirelessly for students and families every day, is part of a larger movement to privatize public education.  We must be vigilant in protecting, while improving, true public education, the pillar of our democracy.”

Lisa Donlan, a public school parent and President of Community Education Council One added, “For too long now our children have been the pawns of powerful politicians and their handpicked bureaucrats who paint themselves as reformers while they reinforce the status quo, depriving our neediest children of the quality education that is their birthright. No man, not even Superman can alter the sad reality: the achievement gap persists, our schools and communities are segregated and less money is spent on students despite tripled budgets.  In the words of Frederick Douglass in 1857:  "If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation…want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters…. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

Outside of the Loews Lincoln Square movie theater, the Real Reformers stood up and presented their vision for real education reform.  The Grassroots Education Movement provided two pieces of literature including:  “The Inconvenient Truth About Waiting for Superman” which outlined information regarding misleading and factually inaccurate claims in the movie and “The Truth About Charter Schools”, a brochure that outlines “myths” and “truths” about charter schools.  The group also released the trailer for their upcoming documentary, “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman”, which will be shown in New York City neighborhoods, and across the country, this fall.  The trailer for this film is posted at
Parents and Teachers also engaged in a flash mob performance of “Will the Real Reformers Please Stand Up”.  (The video of this performance and the movie trailer can be found at (see the trailer at:

Various groups were represented at Friday night’s event.   Attendees expressed a myriad of objections to the film, while joining in a shared mission to expose the narrow lens with which Guggenheim tells his story. 

Mona Davids, President of the New York Charter Parents Association commented, “The so-called education reformers consisting of hedge fund millionaires and billionaires do not respect parents and the communities of color they serve.  Charters in NYC have been denying parents their civil rights by vehemently opposing PA/PTA's in charters.  NYCPA in it's one year of existence has brought about charter reform including charters serving special education and English Language Learners; PA/PTA's in every charter in NYC; audits by the state comptroller; public lotteries; monthly board meetings, stronger conflict of interests requirements and the ban of for-profit charter schools, to name a few.  These reforms should have been enacted 10 years ago.  It's hypocritical of the charter lobby and education reformers to say this is the civil rights issue of our time when they are refusing to comply with the revised charter law requiring PA/PTA's in charters and violating the civil rights of charter parents.  Apparently, their children attending private schools can have PA/PTA's but not the children of color attending publicly funded privately run charter schools.  Charter parents don't matter. Just the per pupil funding does!”

Sam Coleman, a teacher in Sunset Park, Brooklyn and member of Grassroots Education Movement and NYCORE, had another take, “The insinuation that teachers and teacher unions are to blame for what ails public education is insulting to teachers and distracts from the real issues. Talk to students who are getting police records for school hallway scuffles about what is stopping them from graduating and getting a job. Talk to high school students who are also parents and are forced to drop out because there is no childcare in their schools. Talk to immigrant students who cannot go to college because of their immigration status, or to queer youth who are bullied and pushed out of school. Ask any of them; their stories reveal the complexity of what ails our educational system. Let’s stop blaming teachers and teacher unions. Let’s give control of education to communities and educators. Let’s fund communities equitably and let the corporate lawyers hold bake sales to buy their shredders."

Visit: for more information

Additional Contacts:
Lisa Donlan, Parent: 917-848-5873
Mona Davids, Parent: 917-340-8987
Sam Coleman, Teacher:  646-354-9362
Julie Cavanagh, Teacher: 917-836-6465

Saturday, September 25, 2010

GEM REAL REFORMERS:Smashing Broadway Success!

Loews Theatre - 66th & Broadway - New York City Sept 24, 2010
GEM-NYCORE SuperHeroes, The REAL REFORMERS, were a Smashing Success at opening of pro-charter propaganda film, Waiting For Superman, on Broadway.
The GEM-NYCORE protesters included a caped-hero-street-theatre troup that rapped lyrics to educate ingoing/outgoing crowds about the film's pro-privatization, pro-charter fraud.
Over 100, including parents, educators, and activists engaged by-passers in dialogue as they distributed the updated GEM brochure, the Truth About Charters.

Teachers are not the problem. The Wall Street Corporate-Government alliance to profiteer by privatizing our schools is the big menacing problem that education advocates must confront before it is too late. Keep reading our blogs and join the fightback at our schools and citywide with GEM. Come to GEM's Sept 28th meeting.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

GEM Produces: The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman - The Trailer

Check out The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman web site:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

GEM Meets Sept. 28, 4:30-7PM

High-Stakes Testing

The Attack on Public Education

In NYC, test scores have made the headlines once again.  Last year, test scores were bandied about by Michael Bloomberg as evidence of his effective "stewardship" over NYC schools. 
This summer, ELA and Math test scores dropped precipitously due to re-scaling of the tests, causing widespread parent outrage.

In NYC and across the country, new systems of teacher evaluation are based more and more on student scores on a single high-stakes test.  Dozens of schools are closed on the basis of low test scores leaving these communities without neighborhood schools and displacing experienced teachers, thereby adding to the ATR pool. Teachers, students and parents are now being told to judge the basis of a quality education on these dubious test scores.

  • What do the changes in test scores mean for NYC teachers and students?
  • How is high-stakes testing being used to dismantle and undermine the public education system?
  • What is the effect of incessant testing on our educational system?
  • What can we do about it? 

Bring your experiences and ideas to a discussion with the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM).  Join with others in attempting to counter the effects of high-stakes testing mania.

September 28 4:30 - 7 p.m.
CUNY Graduate Center
34th and 5th Ave. Room 5409
(Bring ID)

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

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

ATR Job Fair: Many called....Few chosen

A “mandatory recruitment fair” (or was it a futility festival?) was held in the main room of the Grand Prospect Ballroom in Brooklyn on September 14. Teachers were initially directly to report at 10 o’clock in the morning. Email messages went out the day before changing the time to 1:00. Although the second floor ballroom is large, teachers weren’t permitted to enter until after one o’clock. Some didn’t get in until around 2:00. Teachers who arrived in the morning had to stand around waiting for more than three hours before going upstairs to the interview tables.

The DOE used a first floor lounge and restaurant as waiting rooms. These side rooms were stuffed far beyond their room capacity (which is listed on the ballroom’s website as 320 persons).

Teachers were advised in the email messages that no lunch would be provided. For those arriving in the afternoon there was not even water. One teacher was stopped from entering the Skylight Room where administrators were being served a range of beverages by waiters in black jackets. A handler in a monogrammed jacket told the teacher there wasn’t anything available for interviewees. Asked what his position was the man explained that he was employed by a private company (a DOE “partner”) hired to provide logistics for the job fair. Apparently these logistics didn’t include providing water for the hundreds of cattle call participants. After a standoff of several minutes a Ballroom waiter brought the teacher a glass of water from the off-limits room. Teachers typically seemed to be seeing about 3-4 vacancies in their licence area. Some fewer. Some found none.

Throwaway line: Many of the participants were dressed like they would hope to be treated: professional or at least semi-professional. However, scores of others were more in keeping with the shabby reality.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Inform, Support, Inspire: Promoting Policies for a Fully Funded and Effective Public School System

The Grassroots Education Movement (GEMNYC) educates, organizes, and mobilizes educators, parents, students and communities to defend public education. Too many current corporate and government policies seek to underfund, undermine and privatize our public school system. GEM advocates around issues dealing with the equality and quality of public educational services as well as the rights of teachers and school workers. These issues include the incessant push for charter schools, the attack on union rights, the focus on high-stakes standardized testing, school closures, and the failure to address the racism and inequality that exists within our schools. As the attacks on public education and teachers grow more vicious, the collective organization of those who directly face these attacks at the grassroots level becomes all the more essential, and in fact constitutes the most effective potential resistance. GEM advocates for a positive vision of education reform by building alliances with other activist groups and organizing and helping coordinate the struggle at the grassroots school and community level, with a focus on school-level organizing. Join us.

Contact GEM: Blog: