Monday, December 15, 2014

North Carolina Gets Koch-Distorted History... Look Out New York!

 Inside The Koch-Backed History Lessons North Carolina Wants To Teach High School Students

Public high school students in North Carolina will be taught from a lesson plans and worksheets prepared by a organization closely tied to the billionaire Koch brothers, if the state’s Department of Public Instruction gets its way. According to the Raleigh News and Observer, the Virginia-based Bill of Rights Institute received a “$100,000, sole-source contract with [North Carolina] to help develop materials for teachers to use in a course on founding principles that the state requires students to take.” 

The N&O also notes that the organization receives funding directly from David Koch and from two Koch family foundations, although, if anything, this description understates the Institute’s ties to the conservative billionaires. Two of the Institutes four board members are employed by Koch entities — one is a senior vice president at Koch Industries and another is director of higher education programs at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation — and many of the Institute’s other top leaders also appear likely to push a political agenda in line with the Koch brothers’ anti-government views. Board member Todd Zywicki, is a George Mason law professor and a leading opponent of Wall Street reforms such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Institute’s president, David J. Bobb, founded two centers at Hillsdale College, a conservative institution of higher education that proclaims its opposition to “the dehumanizing, discriminatory trend of so called ‘social justice’ and ‘multicultural diversity.’

A Teacher’s Best Friend

The Department of Public Instruction “highly recommend[s]” that North Carolina school districts use the Institute’s instruction materials to teach the state’s students about America’s founding principles and the Constitution itself — and, on the surface, the materials look quite impressive. They consist of 391 pages of lesson plans, worksheets, student activities and answer keys for teachers, organized into “ten instructional modules” and a “final project” designed to cover and entire semester of coursework. The lesson plans tie each module to particular objectives laid out in the state’s curriculum. And many of the lessons taught by the materials are unobjectionable, or even quite important. A unit on the rights of the accused, for example, emphasizes the principle that “it was better for guilty people to go free than for the judicial system to condemn even one innocent person.”

The Bill of Rights Institute staffer in charge of developing its “curriculum resources” is a former schoolteacher who taught in North Carolina schools. It shows. The Institute was clearly aware of the demands teachers face to submit lesson plans that comply with state standards, to break lessons down into manageable chunks, and to teach higher level reasoning skills beyond memorization and basic comprehension. Many teachers, confronted with the task of planning to teach a new subject matter, will no doubt be grateful that the Institute’s materials exist.

Yet the materials also push a very clear agenda in subtle — and often not-so-subtle — ways. “One might say the Founders were not only concerned with property rights,” a unit on that subject proclaims, “they were passionate about them.” Students are taught that “property rights secure freedom” and that James Madison “criticized excessive taxes.” Much of the materials focus on matters of particular concern to well-moneyed groups such as land developers. The Supreme Court case upholding Obamacare is painted as the culmination of a grand expansion of federal power, even though it actually reduced Congress’ ability to legislate.

The Constitution as Climate Change

Parts of the Institute’s materials rely on a tactic that will be familiar to anyone who has debated a climate change denier, teaching students that a controversy exists over a question that has largely been resolved. The Seventeenth Amendment, for example, is put up for debate. 

The Seventeenth Amendment provides that U.S. senators will be selected by voters and not by state lawmakers. Prior to its enactment, state legislatures were frequently deadlocked over who to send to the Senate, and corruption was widespread as moneyed interests sought to influence who would become a senator. Today, this amendment is almost entirely uncontroversial. A 2013 poll found that only 16 percent of American adults believe that it should be repealed. 

One member of the 16 percent, however, is Professor Zywicki, the Bill of Rights Institute board member. The materials make a point of presenting Zywicki’s argument that the amendment “resulted in more federal laws that infringe on the powers of states or that carry mandates with no funding attached.”

Similarly, the materials present another important constitutional change that has largely been accepted by liberals and conservatives alike as a catalyst for federal encroachment. In the early days of the Republic, the Bill of Rights was understood to place limits on the federal government, but states remained free to ignore these rights so long as they complied with their own constitution. After the Civil War, however, the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, and it fundamentally shifted the balance of power between people and the states. 

According to Ohio Congressman John Bingham, the primary author of this amendment, one of its purposes was to require states to comply with “the first eight amendments to the Constitution of the United States.” States would be free to ignore the Bill of Rights no longer.

Yet the Supreme Court initially read the Fourteenth Amendment very differently, and they did so for many years. It wasn’t until the mid-to-late twentieth century that the justices began systematically applying most of the Bill of Rights against the states through a process known as “incorporation.” Though justices and scholars still disagree on the margins about how far incorporation should go — the Supreme Court split 5-4 in 2010 on whether the Second Amendment applies to the states — the view that the bulk of the Bill of Rights apply to the states and the federal government alike is now largely uncontroversial.

The Institute’s materials argue that “[i]ncorporation increased the role of the federal government in citizens’ lives” and that “[m]any people now expect that the federal government—not the states—will be the main protector of individual rights.” Though they acknowledge that “[s]ome legal scholars support incorporation,” they warn that “[o]ther scholars” believe that, by subjecting states to constitutional suits in federal court, incorporation gives the federal government a “veto power over state law.” The materials, in other words, present an increased federal role as a cost that must be weighed against the benefits of incorporation. It is unlikely, however, that many students would consider this cost to be very significant at all if the materials presented them with a more comprehensive history of the debate over incorporation.

The materials’ claim that incorporation would lead to the federal government and not the states becoming “the main protector of individual rights” closely maps the Supreme Court’s holding in United States v. Cruikshank that “the people must look to the States” to vindicate many of their rights. Yet, as I explain in my book Injustices, the Cruikshank decision and its aftermath do far more to discredit this view of federal and state power than it does to support it.

In 1872, less than a decade after General Robert E. Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox Courthouse, Louisiana’s Republican Governor Henry Warmoth struck a Faustian bargain with white supremacist Democrats: Warmoth agreed to throw his full support behind the Democratic candidate to succeed him as governor, if Democratic lawmakers agreed to send him to the United States Senate (this was, after all, before the Seventeenth Amendment was ratified). As it turned out, Warmoth’s support included installing Democrats as voter registrars who engaged in widespread voter suppression. Elderly former slaves were denied the right to vote because they had no birth certificate proving they were over the age of 21. 

Voter registration sites were relocated, but only white voters were informed of the new location. The result was a contested election where Democratic and Republican candidates both claimed they were legitimately elected to various offices.

In Colfax, Louisiana, black Republicans occupied a courthouse in an effort to cement their control over the local government. Less than three weeks later, a white supremacist mob armed with rifles and a small cannon marched on the courthouse. A monument that now marks the site of this massacre claims that “three white men and 150 negroes were slain” in the ensuing slaughter.

The Cruikshank case was a federal prosecution charging several of the white supremacists who participated in this act of mass murder with criminal violations of their black victims’ civil rights. So when the Supreme Court held that freed slaves must “look to the States” to vindicate many of their civil rights, it effectively denied the federal government its power to halt massacres such as what happened in Colfax, and it left black civil rights almost entirely in the hands of state governments that were quickly captured by white supremacists. The justices who decided Cruikshank and similar cases may not have been the fathers of Jim Crow, but they were at the very least its midwives. And that is the history that the Institute’s materials leave out when they ask high school students to weigh the costs of an increased federal role against its benefits.

In a separate module, the materials acknowledge that “[o]ne major criticism of strong state power comes from the legacy of slavery,” but the materials do not tie this criticism to incorporation. This separate module also presents the argument that “[t]he federal government did not effectively protect citizens’ rights over centuries of slavery and segregation” as part of the case against a robust federal government. Yet while this argument is superficially true it ignores the fact that the federal government was hobbled in its ability to act in large part due to Supreme Court decisions such as Cruikshank (as well as the fact that Southern senators were empowered to block civil rights legislation through tactics such as the filibuster).

Selective History

Elsewhere, the materials selectively emphasize historical events that paint liberals in a poor light or that imply that important shifts in constitutional doctrine occurred for illegitimate reasons — and this tactic is also deployed in a way that is likely to foster skepticism of the federal government’s power to enact progressive legislation. A unit on the Constitution’s Commerce Clause (the provision enabling Congress to “regulate commerce . . . among the several states”), for example, emphasizes President Franklin Roosevelt’s plan to pack the Supreme Court with additional justices as part of a “political plan” to rescue legislation that a conservative majority on the Court was inclined to strike down. After this plan was unveiled, the materials explain, “[s]ome of the political conflict eased when one justice began voting to support the New Deal,” and, as a result, “[f]ederal power expanded dramatically for the next fifty years.”

While it is true that Roosevelt did announce a Court packing plan, and it is also true that Justice Owen Roberts became the key fifth vote to uphold New Deal programs shortly thereafter, it is unlikely, at best, that the plan actually caused Roberts to change his votes. 

After the White House dispatched a messenger to liberal Justice Louis Brandeis to warn the justice about Roosevelt’s plan, Brandeis told the messenger to “tell your president he has made a great mistake. All he had to do was wait a little while.” Roberts had already decided in one of the justices’ secret conferences to break with the Court’s conservative bloc weeks before Roosevelt announced his plan, though the Court did not announce the decision where Roberts broke with his conservative brethren until several weeks later.

More than simply presenting a selective history of Roosevelt’s struggle with the Supreme Court, however, materials’ essay on the Commerce Clause does not even present the view, now widely accepted by most judges and legal scholars, that the Depression-era justices who tried to strike down much of the New Deal were simply wrong about the Constitution. 

Indeed, the essay strongly suggests that the opposite is true, claiming that “[m]idway through the twentieth century, Congress started using the Commerce Clause as the grounds for the enactment of many new types of laws to regulate not merely commerce, but the conditions of economic and social life.” 

In 1941, however, in a unanimous opinion joined by Justice Roberts, the Supreme Court explained that the interpretation of the Commerce Clause that conservative justices used to thwart liberal legislation in the early-to-mid twentieth century rested on “a distinction which was novel when made and unsupported by any provision of the Constitution.” They added that it also conflicted with the very first Supreme Court decision interpreting that clause.

Elsewhere in the module on the Commerce Clause, the Institute’s materials hide a subtle inaccuracy in an answer key that presumably will only be read by teachers. A worksheet asks students to chart several Supreme Court decisions based on whether they embraced a broad or narrow vision of federal power, one of which is the NFIB v. Sebelius decision upholding most of the Affordable Care Act. In the process of upholding Obamacare, the Supreme Court actually rolled back the scope of federal power and transformed the law’s Medicaid expansion into something that conservative states could more easily opt out of. 

Yet the answer key depicts NFIB as the high water mark of federal power over the last century. This interpretation of NFIB closely maps the conservative view that the Affordable Care Act was somehow “unprecedented” and any court decision upholding was necessarily expanding federal power beyond its previous bounds.
A segment from the materials' answer key presenting the Supreme Court's decision striking down part of the Affordable Care Act (#8 on the chart) as a high water mark of federal power
A segment from the materials’ answer key presenting the Supreme Court’s decision striking down part of the Affordable Care Act (#8 on the chart) as a high water mark of federal power.

The answer key also instructs teachers to “accept reasoned answers” from students who interpret NFIB differently, even if those students’ answers depart from the key’s suggested answer. Few teachers are lawyers, however, and even fewer of them are likely to be familiar with the nuances of the last three generations of Commerce Clause jurisprudence. Many teachers are likely to teach the viewpoint advanced by this answer key without critically examining whether it actually comports with the Court’s decisions, potentially implying that Obamacare is a stretch beyond Congress’ legitimate authority in the process.

A Question of Emphasis

There are, of course, some areas of the law where the Koch brothers’ libertarian outlook is more popular with the public at large than established constitutional doctrines, and at least one of these areas receives a surprising amount of attention in the Institute’s materials. The materials do not just devote an entire module to property rights generally — this is the module which teaches that the framers were “passionate about” property rights — it then devotes a separate module to the subject of takings and eminent domain (the power to require individuals to sell their property to the government at its fair market value). This later module is probably the least subtle portion of the materials, and it frequently crosses the line from subtle suggestion into explicit advocacy.

The politically unpopular case Kelo v. New London plays a starring role in this module. Kelo applied the Supreme Court’s longstanding practice of deferring to elected officials regarding what constitutes a legitimate “public use” of the eminent domain power. Yet it also involved a land development plan that, at least according to Fox News, never materialized after the town of New London, Connecticut required the plaintiff in this case to sell her home. Kelo is an application of the proposition that it is better to leave certain decisions to elected officials who can be held accountable by the public rather than placing them in the hands of unelected judges, but it can also be fairly cited as evidence that elected officials sometimes make poor decisions.

The Institute’s materials, however, present none of this nuance. Students are told that the Court’s application of a longstanding legal rule to what turned out to be an unwise use of eminent domain was actually a “landmark case surrounding the government’s ability to exercise eminent domain” that “changed the concept of public use versus private use forever.” Kelo is not a beloved case, to say the least, but the materials’ decision to devote an entire module to this subject is revealing, given that there are only but so many topics in the rich and diverse field of constitutional law that could be covered in a semester-long course for high school students. Notably, other important constitutional topics, such as the rights of women and gay people to equal treatment under the law, are mostly unmentioned. 

The materials’ overall discussion of the Constitution’s promise of equality is equally revealing. Not only does the module on the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause largely ignore the rights of women, it devotes at least as much time to the subject of affirmative action as it does to Brown v. Board of Education. Students are assigned a major project focusing on affirmative action, and, as part of this project, they are asked to perform such tasks as explaining why a speech by President Lyndon Johnson warning that offering formal equality to African Americans is not enough to cure centuries of racial oppression is inconsistent with the principles established by the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964:
LBJ Koch
The Bill of Rights Institute’s materials, in other words, often rely on subtle persuasion. They present a selective view of history, exaggerate conflicts that have largely been resolved, emphasize subjects congenial to a conservative worldview and ignore entirely major threads of constitutional law and history. The students who learn from these materials are likely to emerge more skeptical of federal power and more sympathetic to a libertarian view of property rights. They are likely, in other words, to emerge more like Charles and David Koch.

In the end, however, the fact that the materials are so tinged with ideology is a damn shame. For all of their flaws, they introduce students important areas of American history that are often ignored by high schools. They ask students to consider difficult questions about society’s fundamental values. And, at least on the surface, they treat those students respectfully as people who are capable of evaluating constitutional questions that perplex lawyers and justices alike. North Carolina’s students have much to gain from these activities, if only they were presented without such a clear agenda.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Philly Hi School Students Take The Lead!!

Philly Hi School Students Take The Lead!!

VIDEO: SRC's Simms Screams at Students, We Demand Local Control

Written by The Philadelphia Student Union

Wednesday, 12 November 2014 
“Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.” -Assata Shakur

To those who have called our action on October 15th “disrespectful”, we invoke this wisdom of Ms. Shakur. As we peacefully protested at the School District of Philadelphia’s screening of Won’t Back Down, part of their “Family Appreciation Month”, we were not trying to appeal to their moral senses. Rather we were bringing to light the many ways that the SRC has failed the students of Philadelphia, explained here. The screening was largely organized by SRC member Sylvia Simms, the Women’s Christian Alliance, and Comcast (Simms’ current employer) a company that took in over $64 billion without paying taxes to Philadelphia in 2013 while our schools continue to go extremely under-funded.

As the media has well publicized, Simms (whose twitter handle photo is ironically an image of Angela Davis), screamed at the students, inches from their faces that they “probably go to failing schools” and “belong in jail.” Meanwhile her supporters chanted “Lock them up.”
An article published by the Philadelphia Inquirer on October 17th reads:

In a telephone interview, Simms said she raised her voice to the students because they were chanting loudly and she wanted to communicate. Simms, 53, a North Philadelphia grandmother, parent organizer and mayoral appointee, said she asked them what schools they attended and talked about failing schools.
She denied stating that the students probably attend failing schools. 

"It wasn't like that," she said. "I've noticed we have a lot of failing schools. It's my job to try to fix as many schools as I can." 

She said she couldn't remember exactly what she said. 

She said that she didn't say that students "probably go to failing schools", but here is clear evidence that Simms lied to the press and to the public. At the SRC meeting the following day, there were several calls from allies for Simms to apologize to students, as both an adult and as a decision-maker for the School District of Philadelphia. However, she stayed silent. She didn't apologize, nor did she acknowledge that her supporters chanted "Lock them up".

In this same meeting, SRC Chair, Bill Green addressed the individuals at the meeting who demanded that Simms apologize defensively, claiming that Simms is a champion of students’ causes.
kgraham green simms tweet
If Simms can violently scream at young people for "failing" while at the same time be hailed as a "supporter of students", then we can only imagine what the other SRC members are saying behind closed doors. However, the worst part is that we don't really need to imagine. Besides not publicly condemning the actions of their fellow commissioner, we can plainly see how the SRC as a whole feels about community input. SRC meetings are no more than political theater with decisions made ahead of time and with little to no real discussion about the impacts of policies and changes on which they vote.

The SRC members regularly sit before an audience of parents, teachers and students, with stone cold faces, and give little response to the pleas from the community, creating a mockery of community engagement. Recognizing the ineffectiveness and the folly of such a charade, we decided that the best way to have our voices heard was to engage in civil disobedience. Students were acting in the political forum that was available to them, a public event at the School District.

There is the pervading notion that SRC meetings are the only real and respectable place for the community to have its voice heard. However, it is overwhelmingly apparent that the SRC has no respect for our schools or our communities. As the SRC pretends to act with concern for the community, in reality, they want to dictate how the young people who are impacted by their decisions engage with them, largely relegating them to the sidelines and ignoring their voices.

We are expected to behave in a manner deemed “acceptable” to those who do not agree with our demands just so we can stare at a decision-making table where we are not allowed to sit.

Given the conditions in a school district already starved by budget cuts and school closings there absolutely needs to be a raucous outcry of dissent on behalf of students from as Simms would put it, “failing schools” that she and the body she is a part of has played a role in destroying. By telling students that they are “failing”, it is de-legitimizing the voices of all students, who are placed in a not-so-secret hierarchy.

In fact, the students at the Won’t Back Down action are student athletes, musicians, and performers, actively involved in peer mediation in their schools. Some have been pushed out of schools, others have not. The students who participated in the action were from both neighborhood and magnet schools, students who are usually pitted against one another for resources. Students of all types had to take their action to the only place it would be heard.

The police were called during this action. The police were called, not to monitor the situation, as there is already security staff in the building, but rather to make arrests. For any member of the SRC to call the cops on students is not only unacceptable but an eerie reminder of how systems of power are used to control and violently oppress young black people in the United States.

The SRC is an unaccountable body that is abusing its power. We see this abuse as both institutional, and now, with respect to Simms’ comments, as interpersonal as well. SRC members can scream at students, cancel teachers’ contracts, and close schools, with no repercussions.

There has been a deafening silence by Mayor Nutter, who appointed Simms, in regards to her actions. Lorri Shorr, the city's chief education officer, told Newsworks, that this was “democracy in action”.

We disagree with City Hall. Democracy is when you get to choose your leaders who make decisions on your behalf. Democracy is when students’ right to assemble is protected, not threatened by arrest.

Democracy would be an elected school board, not the SRC. We demand that the SRC be abolished and that Philadelphians be given local control over their schools.

We demand an end to the attacks on teachers, students, and our public schools.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Reading Material To Help You Join Our Fight for a People's Board of Education Instead of Mayoral Control (i.e. Racist Corporate Control)


Saturday, October 18, 2014

STUDY: Are iPads for the Whole School a Good Idea?

1:1 iPad Four Year Study
WAKE FOREST, NC-- The Franklin Academy High School implemented a 1:1 iPad deployment a the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year. Over the course of the next two school years, the pilot was expanded to include all grades 9-12 in the high school. This deployment has reached 475 high school students and all teaching staff. Our K-8 program deployed iPads across the grade levels in the form of class sets and mobile carts.

This study targeted our 1:1 deployment at the high school to investigate the impact the device has had on teaching and learning. The survey used to gather the student data was administered in April of 2014. Students included in the survey used the device anywhere from 1 to 4 years. The students use the iPad while at school and home.

Results of the survey hope to shed light on the impact the use of the iPad has had on academic gains as well as the development of the most important non-cognitive skills our program is founded upon.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Charter School Wars Come to Brooklyn

MORE (Movement of Rank & File Educators) Takes a Stand Against Eva Moskowitz at Hearings - Last Monday and Today in Manhattan

Thanks so much to all of you dear sisters and brothers who organized around getting folks out or going to the charter school hearing on Monday. These pics from DNAinfo are worth a thousand words and clearly show who's active and ready in the fight for Public Ed! So proud to wake up and see this today, so proud to stand in solidarity with all of you! 
A gaggle of 9 MOREistas attended the hearing last

Monday in Brooklyn as Eva intends to invade more gentrified areas in Districts 13, 14, and 15. The CEC presidents of all these districts, joined by District 23, are working together to address the charter problem. Noted Connecticut charter scoundrel Steve Perry, strangely, attended the hearing but left when MORE's Gloria Brandman did her "Eva the witch" impersonation.
MORE's Pat Dobosz with CEC14 Tesa Wilson behind her

Most of us spoke and the community people were very happy we were there to support them. Here's the full video with all of the speeches, followed by the announcement of today's hearing on 7th Ave in Manhattan.

See news story below the video.


*Public schools with limited financial support, forced to compete against charter schools with ample funds for the newest resources

*Overcrowding as schools deal with fewer rooms

*Competition between schools for access to the school's libraries, gyms, auditoriums, and cafeterias

*Parents pitted against parents in the same neighborhoods due to inequitable funding between charters and the district public schools.

*Increased importance of high-stakes tests to determine the future of students and teachers

*The excessing of quality teachers into the ATR pool of rotating teachers, as fewer rooms mean fewer classroom teachers

+Separate and unequal Schooling for our students!


Charter Success Hearing Suny Sept 22, 2014 from Grassroots Education Movement on Vimeo.

Parents Fight New Success Academy Charters in Williamsburg and Park Slope

By Serena Dai September 24, 2014

 Parents and union members came out on Monday night to a public hearing discussing Success Academy's application to open charter schools in three Brooklyn districts.
Parents and Teachers Express Opposition to Success Academy Charter Schools
BROOKLYN — Parents and teachers are fighting controversial charter school network Success Academy's application to open schools in Williamsburg, Park Slope and Fort Greene — with dozens filing complaints during the public hearing process this week.

Success Academy has applied to open 14 schools in New York over the next two years, including one each in districts 13, 14 and 15, encompassing parts of Williamsburg, Bed-Stuy, Park Slope, Fort Greene, Boerum Hill and Clinton Hill.

The schools would open in August 2016 with kindergarden and first grade classes at locations that have yet to be determined. The schools have said they plan to add one grade level per year.

While the current application only covers up to sixth grade, Success would like schools for all three districts to eventually expand to cover up to 12th grade. Pre-K, middle school and high school grades are subject to further approval.

SUNY Charter Schools Institute, which is tasked with evaluating charter school applications, will be voting on the Success Academy charters on Oct. 8, a spokesman said.

Though less than 20 people attended a Department of Education hearing on Monday inviting public comment about the planned charter, locals had 48 hours after the hearing to submit comments for public record.

So far, more than 100 people — most of them opposed to additional charter expansion — have submitted written comments to the DOE and SUNY through public school democracy parent group NYCPublic, according the group's organizer.

NYCPublic automatically sent the comments to the DOE, press, elected officials and the SUNY Charter Approval Board, they said.

Opponents decried the addition of new Success charter schools, citing problems including their unwillingness to teach students with special needs, including English as Second Language learners or children with behavioral issues.

As a result, public schools near charter schools end up being "dumping grounds" for high-needs students, some critics said.

Some opponents blasted charters for taking up space and resources inside of public school buildings, while others said they liked charters but didn't trust Eva Moskowitz or Success Academy.

"I am disgusted at the State Education leadership for creating this problem instead of solving the issues that affect our schools," one advocate wrote. "We have good elementary schools in District 14, we need support, not co-location!"

Tesa Wilson, president of district 14's community education council, attended Monday's hearing to speak out against additional charter schools in the district.

But the hearings often feel like "smoke and mirrors," with SUNY ultimately approving many charters that locals oppose, she said.

"It gives you a sense that the process is rigged," Wilson said.

SUNY declined to comment.

And while Success Academy sent a representative to the hearing to take notes, it did not give a presentation on the proposed schools or offer to answer questions — a lack of engagement that's become regular at public hearings, Wilson and others said.

Success Academy spokeswoman Ann Powell, who was not present at Monday's meeting, said that the academy has made "extensive outreach efforts," including information sessions, tours and presentations at daycares and pre-schools.

The network subsequently received “substantial” petition signatures supporting the new schools, she said, noting that 4,770 parents in those districts supported a new Success Academy in their area.

Its application includes 1,550 signatures from parents in district 13; 1,600 from parents in district 14 and 1,600 signatures from parents in district 15 in favor of the schools.

"It's important that parents have the opportunity to express their opinions, but the facts don't support the criticisms you cite," she said of the parent concerns expressed at Monday's meeting and in online forums.

A DOE representative at the hearing said the session had been recorded for SUNY and the DOE to review. The Success Academy representative at the hearing said the charter school network would be taking comments into consideration.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Increase Teacher Diversity in New York City!

Demand New York City's Board of MisEducation to Have Black & Latino Educators Be at Parity with its Black & Latino Student Population!
Sign the Petition and Pass It Along


Increase Teacher Diversity in New York City!

To be delivered to Carmen Fariña and The New York City Panel for Educational Policy
Since the 2001-2002 academic year, there has been a 57.4% decrease in the number of Black teachers hired by the New York City Department of Education, and a 22.9% increase for white teachers hired during this same period of time.

We ask Chancellor Fariña and the Panel for Education Policy to:

• Make a policy statement that acknowledges the value of teacher diversity and the lack of such diversity in New York City public schools.

• Centrally monitor the racial demographic of hiring and firing in NYC public and charter schools. In public school data reports include the racial profile for the teachers and administrators in each school as is currently done for the students.

• Raise the percentage of Black and Latino teachers hired in the system overall, with a special focus on raising the percentage of male teachers in those groups.

• Raise the percentage of persons of color in the NYC Teaching Fellows program to more closely match the NYC student body demographic. Make public the number and racial demographic of NYC Teaching Fellows hired.

• Settle Gulino vs. Board of Education, in which a recent court ruling found that the NY State LAST certification exam was not validated yet was used in 2002 to dismiss thousands of NYC teachers who were disproportionately Black and Latino.

• Invest in a clear and distinct paraprofessional-to-teacher career path that offers qualified applicants provisional teaching licenses while completing graduate degree requirements and subsidizes both undergraduate and graduate tuition at CUNY and SUNY
There are currently 114 signatures. NEW goal - We need 200 signatures!

Petition Background

In a school system that is 67.5% Black and Latino (as of 2012 - 13), the 34% combined percentage of Black and Latino teachers in the system is disappointing at best.

This lack of diversity reinforces already existing practices of segregation and leaves out diverse cultural perspectives that inform curriculum, pedagogy and practice. It also shortchanges our students by replicating and reinforcing false societal structures that devalue the contribution and perspectives of non-dominant racial and cultural groups.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Charter Schools = Apartheid Education + Vanishing Black & Latino Educators

Stop the Expansion of Apartheid Schooling in New York City!

The information below was obtained by the Teachers Diversity Committee (TDC) of NYC from Success Academy charter schools that responded to our request.  The percentage of white teachers at each Success Academy School is listed below for the 2013-2014 school year:

SA Cobble Hill 82%
SA Crown Heights 57%
SA Fort Green 100%
SA Harlem I 73%
SA Harlem II 63%
SA Harlem III 61%
SA Harlem IV 56%
SA Harlem V 76%
SA Hell’s Kitchen 89%
SA Prospect Heights 91%
SA Upper West 82%
SA Williamsburg 71%
SA Bed-Stuy II 80%
SA Bronx I 74%
SA Bronx II 66%

In 2012 58.6% of teachers in the NYC public schools were white.  Out of the 15 Success Academy Charter schools listed above, 13 out of 15 have a higher percentage of white teachers than was the city wide average for public schools in NYC.

According to a study prepared by Gary Orfield and reported on in the NYC Daily News (3/27/14):

“Schools in New York suffer from the worst racial segregation of any U.S. state, and city schools also earn depressingly dismal marks for diversity, a damning report released Wednesday said.  Many black and Hispanic kids in New York attend schools with almost no white classmates, according to the paper from the Civil Rights Project at the University of California at Los Angeles.  City charter schools showed even higher segregation rates, with less than 1% white enrollment at 73% of charters. “To create a whole new system that’s even worse than what you’ve got really takes some effort,” said Gary Orfield, an author of the report.” 


The mandate to expand charters is increasing racial segregation of students and decreasing teacher diversity in NYC schools overall.

We call on The New York State Charter School Institute to:

1) Implement a moratorium on all further charter school approvals
2) Stop the expansion of apartheid schooling in NYC and...
3) Take affirmative steps to increase teacher diversity in all NYC charter schools.

Note:  The NYC DOE informed us that they do not collect teacher diversity data from Charter Schools and we were told to direct our requests to the Charter organizations.  Success Academy required us to ask each individual school in their network to provide the information.  Teachers Diversity Committee of NYC obtained the data above only after separate requests were made to each Success Academy school.  The request was for all years but only 2013-14 was provided.  A number of Success Academy Charter schools declined to respond to our requests. 

To support Teacher Diversity in NYC public and charter schools contact: