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  
http://phillystudentunion.org

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.

WE WON’T BACK DOWN!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

SATURDAY NOV 8: ALL OUT TO THE 5TH CPE CONVENTION!

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

CPE -A HUMAN RIGHTS BASED SYSTEM FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION

Saturday, October 18, 2014

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

1:1 iPad Four Year Study
Abstract
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.

DOWNLOAD HERE: http://www.keepandshare.com/doc/7377599/student-ipad-survey-pdf-2-5-meg?da=y

teachthought.com

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.












 
WHAT CO-LOCATION MEANS:

*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!

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

SIGN AT: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/increase-teacher-diversity?source=c.tw&r_by=1921406

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.

SIGN AT: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/increase-teacher-diversity?source=c.tw&r_by=1921406

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.” 

(http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/new-york-city-schools-f-racial-segregation-diversrity-report-article-1.1736279)

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:  teacherdiversity@gmail.com. 
9/22/14

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


America’s Unspoken Education Issue: Black Kids Need Black Teachers

A new historical account is just the latest reminder that relying on white teachers to save black students has never been enough.

Posted:
 
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“Hiring more white teachers is not the best way to improve education for students, particularly students of color.” This recent commentary by a black student from New Orleans in the Washington Post predictably aroused the ire of readers who accused the young man of reverse racism, playing the race card and divisiveness.

That’s no surprise. Race is the third rail of education. Touch it and get scorched. But when it comes to the need for more teachers of color—and, conversely, the idea that placing black students with white teachers isn’t a fix-all—overwhelming research and historical evidence say that this is where our attention needs to be.

The idea that racial diversity in classrooms has automatic benefits is a proven myth when it comes to black educational achievement. Sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, wide disparities exist between students of color and white students across all aspects of public education. According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, black students trail white classmates on every academic criterion and marker of school quality, while black youths far exceed white classmates in suspensions, expulsions and arrests.

The numbers are stark and straightforward: Educational attainment is greatly influenced by race. But these bleak statistics don’t tell the full story of the impact of race on educational outcomes.

In all the discussion of resources, testing and parental involvement, what we don’t hear enough about is this: Students of color perform better with teachers of color (pdf)—academically, socially and emotionally. According to a Center for American Progress report on retaining teachers of color in public schools, “Teachers of color are more likely to work and remain in high-poverty, hard-to-staff urban schools and districts than their white counterparts. ... What’s more, teachers of color are known to be personally committed to the success of children of color ... ” Yet as our student population grows more diverse, the people standing in front of classrooms remain predominantly white.

For the first time, black children and other students of color are now the majority in public schools, and what was a racial and ethnic gap between students and teachers is becoming a chasm. But a new historical portrait of the teaching profession reveals that the racial composition of the teachers who instruct black children has been a perennial issue since the 19th century, full of highs and lows and fraught with resistance and setbacks.

Dana Goldstein’s recently released The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession tracks the journey of black students from Reconstruction, and black teachers inspired to “supplant memories of slavery with those of racial pride,” to today’s highly charged debate on teacher tenure, marketed to black and Latino parents as a cure-all for what ails their children’s education. Goldstein’s thorough historical treatment supports the principle that teachers of color matter. This isn’t a hunch—it’s a fact based on solid, extensive evidence.

The abolition of slavery and the subsequent Reconstruction in the South spawned the nation’s first historically black colleges, established to train black teachers to uplift the race. Black teachers taught formerly enslaved people to read and write, and the literacy rate increased dramatically. The outgrowth of this era produced the all-black M Street High School in Washington, D.C., whose faculty was better-educated and credentialed than white counterparts in the District’s public schools. Anna Julia Cooper, the principal of M Street and a leading black scholar of her day, steered black students into the nation’s top colleges and universities. Underscoring Cooper’s educational success with black youths at the turn of the century was a steadfast commitment to “black schools led by black educators.”
Fast-forward five decades, and Cooper’s dream was decimated. In the 11 years following the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, the ranks of black teachers plummeted, along with the great hope that the Brown decision would solve racial inequalities in education. In Northern cities, de facto segregation continued unabated. In the South, desegregation was slow and deeply resisted. As the displacement of black educators became the norm, and the “broken promises” of integration became more apparent, the resentment of black and Latino parents smoldered.

The drastic loss of nonwhite teachers for students of color is the thread that links the past to the present. In 1968 New York City weathered the Ocean Hill-Brownsville crisis, a manifestation of “long-standing evidence ... that suggested that white teachers often did have low expectations for their nonwhite students, and that those views negatively impacted academic achievement,” writes Goldstein. In 1970 community activists in Newark, N.J., clashed with unionized teachers over “their self-interest and disrespect for poor black children.”

Today the disconnect between white teachers and the communities of color they serve continues. Even as the increasing segregation of schools grabs headlines, one aspect remains underreported: how well black students actually fare in integrated schools. The New Republic found not so well: “Today, even in schools that have achieved some level of diversity, there’s evidence that students of different races are still being treated differently. Substantial scholarly evidence indicates that teachers—especially white teachers—evaluate black students’ behavior and academic potential more negatively than those of white students.”

The question is no longer whether black children and other children of color need high-quality teachers that share their cultural backgrounds but, rather, why boosting teacher diversity isn’t the top national education priority.

First lady Michelle Obama recounts her mother “holding [teachers’] feet to the fire if she thought they were falling short” and “looking over those teachers’ shoulders.” When parents of color have to become squatters in public school classrooms, the status quo is broken, and reforming it will require really uncomfortable conversations about race—the kinds of conversations that a New Orleans public school student started.
Melinda D. Anderson is a Washington, D.C.–based education writer and parent activist with a special interest in race, class, educational equity and educational justice. She is a founding member of EduColor, a collective that cultivates and promotes diverse voices in the public education conversation and policymaking process. Follow her on Twitter.