Friday, December 24, 2010

Helping us to get thru 2011 with many more victories than we had in 2010...
Film Industry Helping Ruling Class Destroy Public Education
One of the many funny moments of American government hypocrisy was when the US expressed outrage that the Russian government would take over an independent TV station. The Russian TV station NTV - owned by an oligarch who eventually fled the country - was very critical of the Russian government's military operations in Chechnya and featured quality political satire shows that are sorely lacking in this country. But once the state took over, the channel replaced bloody battle images with handshakes and smiles as peace and order was suddenly being restored in the breakaway caucus region.
The movie 'Waiting for Superman' is being promoted as part of the privatization attack on public schools and teacher unions.

Shame on Russian President Vladimir Putin for using the state to crush an independent media which is so crucial to any thriving democracy. But is it any different here?
Actually, the US government has no complaints with our media which pretty much falls in line with what the state wants. When President George Bush declared war on Iraq, every mainstream paper from the NY Times to the Washington Post couldn't produce enough pro-war stories and editorials to support the illegal invasion. When the Dixie Chicks criticized Bush for invading Iraq, the country stations faithfully pulled their music from the airways, radio profits be damned.
The recent Wikileaks disaster has forced companies like Amazon and Visa to divest of anything connected to the website that released damning information about illegal US government activities around the world.
And today our media is once again lining up to fulfill its duty to carry out the US ruling class interest to destroy and privatize public education in this country. The issue of the year, according to Forbes reporter John Koppisch, was education reform - basing pay for teachers on merit, ending life-time tenure for school employees, closing failing schools and replacing them with charters.
There were three major "independent" documentary films on education reform: "Waiting for Superman" which focused on five grammar students trying to get into a charter school, "The Lottery" which again focused on the lotteries for parents and students to escape the bad public schools and "The Cartel," which concludes that the reason the educational system is so bad here is because of those horrible teacher unions.
Geoffrey Canada (right) of the "Harlem Children's Zone" is one of the most prominent right wingers attacking public education and public employees in the USA today.

"The Cartel was put together as a labor of love by 41-year-old, Hoboken, N.J., TV journalist Bob Bowdon," Koppisch writes.
"Seizing on the reform zeitgeist, it captured nine film-festival awards and opened in theaters in 25 cities around the country. N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, who’s made a national name for himself by going to battle with the teachers’ union and ushering in a wave of school reforms since taking office last January, saw it twice and—in a YouTube clip in October–gives Bowdon credit for helping him to inspire his education policies."
Waiting for Superman blamed the unions and public education for destroying the dreams of children who are desperately trying to get out of public schools and into charter schools. Their savior is Michelle Rhee who as CEO of the Washington D.C. public schools went to battle against the union, versus the evil villain Randi Weingarten, who as president of the American Federation of Teachers supports public education and public school teachers (how dare she).
The irony was the one country the film held up as an educational model for the rest of the world was Finland - which has 100% unionized teachers.
Waiting for Superman made a huge splash across the country and even the Chicago Public Schools area offices promoted the film to teachers and some offered buses to take parents and students to see the movie.
This so-called independent film had to have investors with big bucks to promote it so heavily across the country. Gazzillionairs like Bill Gates gushed and awed over the film, and certainly helped fund and promote it.
The Cartel perhaps goes even further in reaching the liberal crowd by exposing corruption in the public sector that connects the teachers unions to school administrators to public officials as the reason why our children have been swindled out of a good education.
"The underbelly is indeed dark, and like the other movies, fingers are pointed directly at the unions, and their unholy alliance with elected officials locally and in state capitals," Koppisch writes. "Teachers’ union campaign contributions that get recycled right back into enormous salaries and gold-plated benefits. School boards dominated by teachers (who work in other towns) and other members of the education establishment. Board elections held separately from other elections in order to keep turnout low and voters unengaged."
One day the director of The Cartel was hosting a call-in cable show and topic was tenure, Koppisch reported.
"'It sounded like something out of a Third World country, a decree that no one could be fired. Then I found that we have that here. And yet people who were intelligent didn't consider that a job for life in this high-tech economy was a preposterous anachronism. I was dumbfounded."
Of course, the fact that college professors get tenure - after a rigorous process that the public school teacher unions should consider taking the lead on promoting - isn't upsetting to this filmmaker. But give him some time when Uncle Sam and Wall Street say the university academics should be next on the hit list.
The director also felt there was an "edict of silence" being forced on people to discourage speaking out about the abuses, Koppisch wrote. But that's the reason teachers have a union, to protect them from possible termination because they need to speak out against such abuses. One teacher who reported a sexual assault at an UNO school and another teacher who reported strip searching at Aspira were both fired easily because they worked at charter schools and had no union to protect them.
Here's another funny part - if only we public school supporters could laugh. The Cartel director reports schools boards dominated by teachers and other members of the education establishment, as something bad. Did he not take a look here at Mayor Daley's control of the schools and his rubber stamped board of directors of mostly millionaire businessmen running the Chicago Public Schools? Actually, this misleading statement about school boards being dominated by teachers was one of the reasons Daley used in 1995 to take complete control of the schools and put business people in charge beholden to corporate interests.
Bowden is a libertarian, Forbes reported, and his film does expose corruption in all sectors which no one can deny - where there is lots of money, there is lots of corruption. But he goes after the unions and not President Obama's Race to the Top that is turning out to be a big fraud demanding more unproven educational experiments on children with charter schools that do no better than the so-called horrific public schools, and more standardized testing that does not promote critical thinking.
This holiday season, sit back and enjoy two very good films that will make you laugh and scratch your head in wonder: "Teachers" with Nick Nolte and "Cheaters" with Jeff Daniels. Trust me, you won't be upset, disillusioned or feel cheated. You will simply laugh, which is something we all need to do a lot more these days.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Lessons We Can Learn for England's Student Activists:
Students in England Fight to Save EMA (Educational Maintenance Allowance)

Student allowance helps only a minority, says government

• EMA scheme dismissed as expensive and ineffective
• Thousands of teenagers protest over proposed cuts
'It keeps us in college': Westminster Kingsway students discuss the EMA Link to this video The government today dismissed a grant that helps hundreds of thousands of teenagers to stay in education as "an expensive programme that only helps a minority".

The dismissal came as thousands of teenagers, college lecturers and teachers took to the streets in a last-ditch effort to convince ministers to reinstate the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

Almost 647,000 of England's 16 to 18-year-olds receive the allowance, which was introduced in 2004. It is to be stopped next summer, with new applications refused from the new year.

Teenagers receive £30 a week if their household income is below £20,817, £20 a week between £20,818 and £25,521, or £10 a week between £25,522 and £30,810. The money is intended for use on books, course equipment and travelling to school or college, and is stopped if students do not work hard or attend classes regularly.

Lunchtime marches are thought to have taken place outside more than 100 colleges today in protest at plans to cut EMA. Chris Morecroft, president of the Association of Colleges, which represents more than 350 further education and sixth-form colleges, and Aaron Porter, president of the National Union of Students, said ministers were inflicting hardship on the poorest teenagers and "narrowing their choices". They expressed concern that new applications for the grant would be stopped from December "before the government has an alternative in place".

In a briefing document sent to the press, the government said EMA cost more than £560m a year and made little difference to most teenagers. It had done nothing to change the number of pupils on free school meals going on to Oxbridge, the document from the Department for Education said.

"Of a cohort of 80,000 pupils on free school meals, just 40 make it to Oxbridge. This is less than some top public schools. This number has actually gone down," a spokesman said.

"The shocking state of the public finances left by Labour has meant we've had to make some tough decisions. Having looked at all the facts, it was decided at the time of the spending review that the EMA scheme had to be replaced. It is an expensive programme that only increased the participation in education of a minority of students."

Research shows finance "only stops" 4% of teenagers from doing what they want to do after leaving school, the briefing note said. It cited a study commissioned by the previous government showing that almost 90% of young people receiving EMA said they would still have participated in the courses they were doing had they not received it.

"Of course some young people need extra financial assistance to help them stay on in education, but we will be targeting support at those students who really need it to continue in education and face genuine financial barriers to participation," the spokesman said. A scheme to give £26m to the poorest teenagers through their schools, colleges and training schemes would be expanded, he added.

Marches took place across the country, including in Blackpool, Dudley, Bath, Hackney and Shrewsbury. The Education Activist Network called for a demonstration outside the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

The principal of City of Bath college, Matt Atkinson, joined his students for their demonstration. "This issue is so significant I felt I should add my support," he said.

"I think the government's stance on this is very shortsighted. They have a policy of increasing participation in post-16 education, but making these cuts is going to dissuade young people, not encourage them."

Atkinson said 45% of students at his college received EMA. "A lot of our students come from rural areas and use EMA to pay their bus fares. Many young people just won't afford to come to further education colleges. Thirty pounds to a low-income household is important."

If EMA went, some students would stop two-year courses halfway through and many who might have started in the autumn would not do so, he said.

"A lot of students will have started in September expecting to receive EMA for the duration of the course. If the payments are being withdrawn in July, they will really have to think about whether they can continue," Atkinson said.

Holly Hazell, a 16-year-old art student, said EMA was crucial to her. She does not live at home and is on income support. She walks 50 minutes to college because she cannot afford the bus fare and uses the grant to live on and to buy art materials she needs for her course.

"I'd have to think about giving up if EMA went," she said. "I don't want to, but that could be the reality."

In Shrewsbury, school students received messages of support from staff as protest meetings were held after morning classes. Martin Ward, from Shrewsbury sixth form college, said 450 students – a third of the total – received EMA to help with books, equipment and travel, and its loss would have an impact. Greg Molan, principal of Shrewsbury college, emailed his students supporting responsible participation in the national action.

James Mills, head of the Save EMA campaign, said all the protests had been peaceful.

Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, joined a march in Hackney, while other people showed their support on Twitter. "I wouldn't have made it to @Cambridge_Uni without my £30 Education Maintenance Allowance," said Tom Chigbo, from Stratford, east London.

Michael Gove, the education secretary, will be questioned over the decision to scrap EMA on Wednesday when he faces MPs on the cross-party Commons education select committee.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

US Education Quality Lags Far Behind World Standards. WHY?

More evidence that reveals that those who rule this nation are more concerned about "schooling" the US citizenry instead of "educating" us. 

"Schooling" is only about giving a person enough book knowledge to function as a BurgerKing cashier or a glorified secretary within a department store or the finance industry. It discourages- no... hates a person who can think critically and ask questions. It defines that person as a "problem" that requires either psychiatric drugs or some form of incarceration and social isolation.

"Education" is about developing a person's intellectual and creativity skills as far as possible. It encourages- no... demands critical thinking skills. It demands that a person see study as an integral part of their life's ongoing experience.

The news report below is another indication on how deep those who rule Capitalist America have underdeveloped the public education system.

Just look at the case of the selection of a second noneducator to head up the nation's largest public school system. Clearly it's not about "education." It's about CONTROL and PROFITS. When you create a "schooling" system of public education, there is no need for an educator to oversee it. So, Mayor Bloomberg is not in error to appoint Ms Cathie Black to chancellorship: the NYC public education system is not concerned with educating our children because 

(1) there are no jobs inside the US for millions of "educated" youngfolk, 
(2)  there is  profits to be made from the privatizing of public education in these times of multiple capitalist crises, and...
(3) the youth being "schooled" are primarily Black and Brown and have limited intellectual capacity anyway.

Join the Coalition for Public Education/Coalicion por La Educacion Publica (CPE-CEP) and help us bring into existence a truly FREE public education that EDUCATES our Children grounded in democratic neighborhood control thru direct parental-educator-student decision-making powers. 

Afterall, Education- Dictator Bloomberg notwithstanding -is a HUMAN RIGHT!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010




Recorded on Sunday November 28, 2010 "Rather than representing the people they serve, Commissioner Steiner and Mayor Bloomberg have dismissed democracy and highlighted the worst aspects of Mayoral control of schools through secretive back-room negotiations and an unacceptable outcome," stated Chris Owens, a parent and former Community School Board President in Brooklyn.


Parents, Community Leaders Urge State To "Deny The Waiver"

By: NY1 News

Critics of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision and pending deal to appoint magazine editor Cathie Black as Schools Chancellor held a rally Sunday where they called for more transparency in the process.The group of parents and community leaders gathered outside the Education Department's headquarters at the Tweed Courthouse in Lower Manhattan where they chanted the phrase "deny the waiver."

"Last week, Commissioner Steiner and the panel, unequivocally said that Cathie Black does not have the qualifications to be chancellor. This circumvention of the law is completely unacceptable," said city parent Mona Davis.

"We must educate our children, to be educated properly and they must be entitled to the free and appropriate education that's guaranteed to them by law," said city teacher Carmen Applewhite.

Black needs a waiver to become chancellor because she has no educational experience.

Under a compromise reached Friday by city and state officials, State Education Commissioner David Steiner has agreed to grant the waiver because Black will appoint a deputy with an academic background to serve under her.

The mayor's office says that deputy will be Shael Polakow-Suransky, 38.

He currently serves as the city's Deputy Chancellor for Accountability and Performance.

Meantime, City Councilman Charles Barron says he will try to get a temporary restraining order to keep Black from getting the waiver.

He's also urging parents to keep their children out of school until, in his words, a qualified chancellor is selected.

An official familiar with the matter tells NY1 Commissioner Steiner is expected to accept the waiver request Monday.


Critics Blast Compromise Over City Schools Chancellor Pick

By: NY1 News

Critics of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's choice for the next schools chancellor say they will file for a temporary restraining order on Monday to try to prevent publishing executive Cathie Black from getting a waiver to fill the position.At a protest in Brownsville, Brooklyn on Saturday, Councilman Charles Barron said for the second day in a row that he will continue protests against Black and resort to civil disobedience if necessary.

Barron urged parents to keep their children out of city public schools until a "qualified chancellor" is selected. He also said the state should repeal mayoral control of city schools.

"Mayoral control is out of control. The mayor is disrespectful, the mayor is abusive of the power the system gave him," said Barron. "And Cathie Black is unqualified to teach in a classroom, nevertheless [will] run the largest education system in the country."

Black needs a waiver to become schools chancellor because she has no educational experience.
An official told NY1 on Friday that after some earlier reservations, State Education Commissioner David Steiner has agreed to a compromise in which a deputy with an academic background will be appointed to serve under Black.

The mayor's office says that deputy will be Shael Polakow-Suransky, 38, who is currently the city's Deputy Chancellor for Accountability and Performance.

Critics Blast Compromise Over City Schools Chancellor Pick
Polakow-Suransky, a longtime educator in the city schools system who has worked as a teacher and principal, is a Brown University graduate who holds a master's degree from the Bank Street College of Education and a supervisor's degree.In 2001, he opened the Bronx International High School, which focused on the specific needs of recent immigrants who were just learning English, and in 2004, he became vice president for Academic Affairs in the Department of Education's Office of New Schools.

Last year, Polakow-Suransky became the deputy chief schools officer for the Division of School Support, before being appointed to his current post in Accountability and Performance.

Under Black, the mayor's office says Polakow-Suransky will oversee instructional programs and the implementation of major educational policies. He will also advise Black on policy issues relating to curriculum, testing and evaluation.

Dear Friends.

I am so upset in reading Saturday November 26th NY Times to learn that the Mayor's team has selected/accepted a white man, Polakow-Suransky for the position of Academic Deputy to be "second in command" to a white woman to head the NYC Public Education system- predominantly children of color. It is hard to believe that after all the discussion this past summer about his hiring practices at the top....they could not find ONE person of color to fill this post who had expertise in education.

His position that educators have not done a great job thereby justifying the selection of a woman who does not have educational experience would be like hiring someone with NO financial experience to head the financial sector since they have done a terrible job. It's outrageous.

It makes me regret that we chose not to use the Mayor's vow to hire with diversity an example in our article on using a racial equity impact process in decision making. This mayor is totally unaccountable to anyone. He offers an example of the most dangerous decision making possible. BEHIND CLOSED DOORS AND OUTCOMES AS USUAL.

Writing articles on Using a Racial Equity Impact Statement in Policymaking is so important. I look forward to bringing this lens forward into our work and into our institutional practices.

Liberation Psychotherapist

Education Activists,

It's not a surprise to those of us who have been battling Billionaire Dictator Bloomberg over these years of his mayorship that he has forced his State Ed lap dog to give up a waiver for another rich white noneducator. The deal for the liberal public consumption and his conservative critics is to appoint a former liberal white South African-born/Midwest raised educator -Shael Polakow-Suransky- to be Ms Black's public education Voice.
To me, this is a very deep insult added to our children's education genocidal experiences. Bloomberg could not trust the coterie of colored lackeys sprinkled within the middle echelon of his Dept of MisEducation to be the public voice of his corporatization efforts.
But, sadly, many of our elected officials, community leaders, ministers and education leaders will go along with tis insult... seeking handouts, compromises and political pats on their heads from Billionaire Bloomburg. They are hooked on either being in proximity with big wealth and/or have agreed with his privatization policies.
Bloomberg's corporate media friends will drag them out to spin this corporate bumrush as the best thing for our children since... since... oh, I don't know... since Carter G Woodson!
Our fight is still the same intense and relentless one: to build awareness and organization among the hundreds of thousands of Black, Latino, Asian parents, students and educators for the purpose of seizing POWER over the NYC public education system. We know our fight to be on many many levels... one of them being to get the State Assembly and State Senate to immediately rescind Mayoral Control and replace it with OUR policy of Neighborhood School Control grounded in the concept of anti-racist education and that education is a Human Right that demands direct parent-student-educator decision making powers.
You cannot compromise with Education Genocide. You can only DESTROY it.
In Struggle,
Sam Anderson 

June 28, 2010-

Mayor Falls Far Short of a Vow on Diversity

Since winning a third term in November, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has announced a parade of major appointments: bringing aboard three new deputy mayors and six commissioners and trumpeting most of those arrivals in the Blue Room at City Hall.
All nine are white. All but one is a man.

Those selections are hardly anomalous. Despite a pledge he made when he took office to make diversity a hallmark of his administration, Mr. Bloomberg has consistently surrounded himself with a predominantly white and male coterie of key policy makers, according to an analysis of personnel data by The New York Times.

The city’s non-Hispanic white population is now 35 percent, because of an influx of nonwhite immigrants and other demographic changes in the past two decades.

But Mr. Bloomberg presides over an administration in which more than 70 percent of the senior jobs are held by whites, and he has failed to improve on the oft-criticized diversity record of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

“Obviously, it demonstrates no greater commitment under Bloomberg than there was under Giuliani in appointing minorities to high-level positions in government,” said Abraham May Jr., executive director of the city’s Equal Employment Practices Commission, an independent agency that monitors diversity and discrimination in city government.

Moreover, New York lags behind the three cities closest to its population in diversifying its senior ranks.

In Los Angeles, 52 percent of the top advisers to Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa are white; in Chicago, that figure is 61 percent for Mayor Richard M. Daley; and in Houston, it is 55 percent for Mayor Annise D. Parker. [NOTE: Like New York City, these cities are majority Black & Latino]

“The numbers — they’re sad,” said Kevin P. Johnson, a former assistant commissioner of the Department of Correction, who was responsible for equal-employment policies, but quit in December because he was frustrated by the administration’s efforts. “It’s terrible in a city with such a large minority population.”

The Times examined diversity in several top management tiers of the Bloomberg administration. Each tier showed a nearly identical pattern:

¶Of the 80 current city officials identified by the Bloomberg administration as “key members” on its Web site, 79 percent are white, and 64 percent are men.

¶Of 321 people who advise the mayor or hold one of three top titles at agencies that report directly to him — commissioners, deputy commissioners and general counsels, and their equivalents — 78 percent are white, and 60 percent male, according to a database created by The Times, based on public records and dozens of interviews with current and former officials.

¶And of the 1,114 employees who must live in the city, under an executive order, because they wield the most influence over policies and day-to-day operations, 74 percent are white, and 58 percent are men, according to the mayor’s office.

In addition to their demographic similarity, many of the recent appointees fall into two broad categories: former Wall Street executives and loyalists from City Hall or the mayor’s re-election campaign.

“Given Bloomberg’s background, we shouldn’t really be surprised,” said Bruce F. Berg, a political scientist at Fordham University who has studied racial diversity in New York City government. “He’s picking from the business world, his key advisers are from the business world, and this is still very much a white male bastion.”

Mr. Bloomberg declined requests for an interview to discuss the findings.

But his press secretary, Stu Loeser, acknowledged in a statement that “there is always more we can do.” Mr. Loeser said, however, that “we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished over the last eight years” in diversifying the city’s management ranks, noting that almost half of the people in citywide programs intended to identify and develop future top managers are people of color.

In addition, he said, managers — the nearly 6,000 employees who rank just below the top level administrators — have become more diverse in recent years under Mr. Bloomberg.

“These talented up-and-coming managers are positioned to be the next generation of assistant and deputy commissioners, then agency heads, of city agencies,” Mr. Loeser said of those in the training programs.

Still, Mr. Bloomberg has conceded that he has fallen short, acknowledging at a news conference last year that “the diversity of our administration has not been as diverse as the city itself.”
The homogenous composition of the administration is especially striking in crucial areas where city personnel deal with issues predominantly affecting minority residents, like education, homelessness and child welfare.

At the Department of Homeless Services, the Department of Education and the Administration for Children’s Services, 80 percent of the top officials are white, according to the Times’s research — including the newly installed commissioner of homeless services, Seth Diamond. And while the Bloomberg administration, early on, featured minority commissioners at the Department of Finance, the Human Resources Administration and the Administration for Children’s Services, all those positions are now held by white men.

“I have chaired and been present at one too many meetings where every senior person happened to be Caucasian, representing the administration,” said Bill de Blasio, the city’s public advocate, and a former City Councilman who was the chairman of the General Welfare Committee. “It’s not really an acceptable situation.”

Since the 1990 census, the city’s non-Hispanic white population has dropped to 35 percent, from 43 percent. And that change is reflected in the overall city government work force, which dropped from 46 percent white in 1994 to 38 percent in 2008.

Still, little change has occurred in the most senior ranks.

Diversity, of course, is one of the most delicate issues and hardest goals to achieve in any workplace. Many employers want a workplace, especially in the public sector, that has highly qualified managers who reflect the broader community and can engage in a vigorous exchange of ideas by people of different backgrounds. So failing to name minority employees to high-level positions, time after time, not only can dampen employee morale, but also send a message that an employer is insensitive or indifferent, according to political analysts and human resources professionals.

“This is the most diverse city in the world, and to be respected and seen as the mayoral administration of that city, you want to be pushing hard to build a much more diverse pool of people from which to draw expertise,” said Andrew White, director of the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School. “So if you’re not making that effort, your pool is going to be severely limited, and you’re going to go for the kinds of people that you’ve always worked with.”

Mr. Bloomberg pledged during his first campaign, in 2001, to hire people of different backgrounds. And shortly after taking office, he underscored his commitment to diversity, saying that “if you have that as a goal, and you have a process that gets lots of input from various communities, you will wind up with an administration that is reasonably diverse.”

More than eight years later, many people credit Mr. Bloomberg with achieving real progress on race relations, by discussing racial issues forthrightly, supporting immigration reform and meeting with different groups regularly on issues like public health, economic development and basic quality-of-life services.

“Even though minorities may not be filling out the ranks of his cabinet, in proportion to their ranks in the population at large,” Professor Berg, of Fordham, said, “Bloomberg goes out of his way, on many occasions, to assuage minority leaders, and include them.”

No longer, some say, is race viewed as the lightning rod in the way it was under Mr. Giuliani.
“Together with a City Hall that listens to every community across the five boroughs,” Mr. Loeser said in a statement, “we’ve helped contribute to creating a city where people are almost universally seen as getting along together better than at any time in memory.”

But while his language has been inclusive, that has not translated into concrete changes in the highest ranks at city agencies.

A telling measure involves the commissioners who are frequently the faces and voices of the administration at City Council hearings and town-hall-style forums. And the numbers suggest that Mr. Bloomberg has fewer people of color than some previous administrations.

According to the mayor’s office, 72 percent of his commissioners and agency heads are white. That percentage is higher than the 63 percent figure during Mr. Giuliani’s first year, in 1994, and his 69 percent in 1998. Mr. Giuliani’s predecessor, David N. Dinkins, who is black, meanwhile, had a cabinet that was slightly more than half white, in keeping with his goal of a “gorgeous mosaic” of an administration.

And comparing the “key members” identified by the Bloomberg administration with people in similar posts in the past yields striking results: 79 percent white under Mr. Bloomberg, about 75 percent white under Mr. Giuliani, and 55 percent under Mr. Dinkins, according to a review of earlier city rosters and interviews with former officials.

To be sure, some sectors of the Bloomberg administration are more diverse. The New York City Housing Authority is dominated by minorities at the top tier and led by two black officials whom the mayor tapped last year: John B. Rhea, the chairman, and Michael Kelly, the general manager.
And at the Police Department, where for the first time ever a majority of patrol officers are minority, Raymond W. Kelly, the commissioner, promoted two Hispanics to department chiefs in the last year and Chief Rafael Pineiro as first deputy commissioner — the highest rank achieved by a Hispanic.

Such moves, though, stand out in part because they have been relatively infrequent, current and former city officials said.

Mr. Johnson, formerly with the Department of Correction, recalled that at regular meetings, a top official at the city’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services would invariably boast about the administration’s diversity record. Afterwards, a few equal employment officers would huddle, and scratch their heads.

“We would say to each other, ‘What are they talking about? This administration is not diverse,’ ” said Mr. Johnson, who is now an investigator for lawyers.

He said that he still had “a lot of respect for the mayor.” But he feels disillusioned, after Mr. Bloomberg’s initial inclusionary talk in 2002. 

“The message is: Make me a believer again,” he said.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Parents & Youth Speak Out Against Dictator Bloomberg's Bumrushing Another NonEducator Czar
CPE Folks Gathering at the Start of the 23 November 2010 Press Conference

On Tuesday 23 November on the Steps of TWEED/DOME- The Dept of Mis-Education Headquarters 6th Grader Yvangeline Perez makes it plain about Billionaire Bloomberg's privatization plans impact upon immigrant students. She was part of the Coalition for Public Education/Coalicion por La Educacion Publica (CPE-CEP) press conference denouncing the appointment of another rich white noneducator corporatist to preside over the largest and most diverse public school system in the US.

CPE-CEP Co Chair Sista MubaYarofulani At the Megafone Speaking TRUTH to POWER!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

 Letters To Our Puerto Rican Youth, in NYC  
 (-1- The Struggle to be One -1-)
Tony Rivera

. . A couple of years back I was working at a summer baseball camp in Chelsea. The job payed good money and I got to do something I loved, something as apart of who I am, as rice and beans is. It was an opportunity to reconnect with a life I had left behind upon graduating from high school. It was an opportunity to work alongside former college and semi-professional ball players, as I was the only one on staff hired without that level of experience.

And it was an opportunity to coach young people growing up with a life far different from the one I streamed up, moving from one apartment to the next, in the half dozen places I would come to call my home in my younger years. Baseball, and youth; Youth, and Baseball. Baseball… Youth… Baseball.
A memorable summer it did turn out to be.

Everyday I felt blessed to be going to work. I had agreed to take on some extra responsibilities, and so I would show up early to sweep and mop, tidy up and restock the bathroom with toiletries, and prepare the batting cages for another day of baseball. We, the coaching staff, would then greet participants and line up behind the camp's manager as he made his daily speech before going off to stretch, warm up, practice, and PLAY BALL! I don't know who had more fun: the 8-12 year olds actually playing the game, or me, watching after them, before returning to the facility with a little more picking up to do. Inside of my dusty clap for the young girl who was going home to piano and french lessons; behind my instructing hands guiding the young boy about to spend a weekend in his parents' Hamptons retreat; was the little boy from Brooklyn drowning street commotion out my window with the thousand swings per day, my own coach encouraged me to push… perfecting my grip under the threat of my mother's wrath should that bat have released from my hands, towards a lamp we could not afford to replace. I genuinely LOVED my work!

But my most memorable moment of that summer was not when the staff staged our own Olympics, and I beat out the other coaches in a contest to determine who had the finest arm! The most memorable moment for me was not when I found myself introducing myself to the parent of a youngster with a familiar name, and inquiring into whether what i imagined might be true, was in fact affirmed as she asserted that I had indeed been training Dan Rather's grandson.

Rather, the moment which always brings a smile to my lips from that summer, came when on break in the sweat of New York heat, a fellow Coach and the only other Latino on staff (a Dominican Brother), engaged me in a chat that I would've reacted to a lot differently in my teenage years on the diamond.

"What are you," he asked "Puerto Rican, Nuyorican, or Boricua?" And assuming he was testing my sense of self, I responded proudly: "Ptss.. I'm BORICUA!"
"No, you are NUYOrican," he followed.

Yes I am Nuyorican. I do not just accept this matter-of-factly, I embrace it as wholeheartedly as I embrace that I am Boricua. From Boriken to New York City, I am my Puerto Rican people WHEREVER we go! Depending on the flavor of the month I might feel more Porta Rock-metro-Rican, or I might feel more petroglyph-jibaro-Rican. Our (NuyoRico's) late Secretary of State Pedro Pietri declared it for all of us, to be so. If not for reading Pietri, leading me to read Hostos, I might have begun to fire off some cringing ignorance about platanos and incest, as I recall having reacted in similar conversations back in my day on the ol' varsity team. Not only would it not have been worth it/right (Pietri clearing his throat reminded me that we were at work, and probably the least secure on the payroll if you get my drift), but It wouldn't have made sense to me any longer. Eugenio Maria de Hostos lived and died to bring my people and his together; building the Dominican public school system, and requesting that his bones not be transported from his resting place there, to his native Puerto Rico, until the island is someday Independent, and Free!

"What about YOU?" I retorted playfully. "Dominicano, or Quisqueyano?" He didn't expect that i'd have any clue about distinctions of his own indigenous/national identity. Together, we laughed.

There has always been a safe space for Latinos to congregate and build with each other, in baseball. At one time, and to an extent even today, ethnic/racial solidarity, in relation to the game, was an unintended consequence of society being segregated. Today, we are actually seeing managers taking racial chemistry into consideration when putting a team together, totally cognizant as to whether their roster has or needs to build the support of a core group whom can receive their next Latino star, with the same language in the clubhouse and rhythm on the field.
The 'chocolate chip' phenomenon Roberto Clemente struggled inside of during his early years, as a Brown man on a white squad, was history by the end of his career. It was '72 and he had become something of the patriarch amongst a demographic populating the future of the sport.

All of this is to say that in our work places, at the party, spread about the beach, wherever our people are, there is a harmonious undercurrent that works itself out in our respective performance. Such energy shows itself in the intimacy of our exclusive conversations, in the cache developed between us for outsiders invited into the uniqueness of our space, in body language, and actions from our respective upbringings, which hold universal significance for us. It gives us home, it makes us our own, and with that comes the combination of responsibility and dignity befitting of a complete investment of self. Here in America, all peoples (Black, White, Muslim, Jewish, Women, Men, Gay, Straight), can attest to experiencing their culture's particular construct of this communication. We each choose to either embrace or reject it, depending on how we interpret it will effect us.

Back in my Senior season at Fort Hamilton, I was one of I think four Boricuas on the team.

There were about the same amount of Dominican players, but there was a synergy amongst them that we the Puerto Rican players did not have. We were a scattered four, each with his own clique, if we weren't riding dolo (I for example, was 'a loner'). They, were Brothers. In the lunch room, on the train, up the avenue, at the gym; you saw one, you saw two three and four somewhere around. If you really looked around, you noticed it wasn't just them four. Cheering them outside of the gate during a game, tagging on to the back of a wave of upper classmen gathering to cut just before the bell began class, packing a caravan of cars circling the block for parking the night of a dance; they were a community within the school, and unlike us, whom for the most part might have known OF each other, each and every Dominicano it seemed, related to one another in rather tight camaraderie.

And if THAT sounds hyperbolic for you, try to process how the best player in the city that year was Rudy Lugo (whom would eventually make it all the way to the major leagues). Rudy went to Xaverian, which was a private school rival. I had never met him, until my back up (Right Field) brought him to visit our practice one day… We all came and surrounded this brother, he was a MONSTER. Wasn't a matter of association by network of the elite, because if it were, I, the starting Right Fielder would've known him It's just that the Brother came through with his peoples. He was Dominican, he had a l o t of peoples!

Shamefully, I was 'lost' back then; perdido. And I didn't look upon this as a positive reality for our Primo.Latino's. They have no type of individuality! I thought, deadpan in my own experience of 'individuality'. It hadn't yet snapped for me that the essence of family, which configured itself between WHOMEVER came to join from amongst them, might have been the source of the travel agencies, hair salons, grocery stores, restaurants and other businesses that began decorating our Sunset Park neighborhood when Boricuas were down to a Pentecostal church and a funeral home!

Until this day I still fight my draw towards isolation. I've learned enough to know that we are stronger together, Boricuas building amongst Boricuas.. inside of Boricuas building amongst Latinos… and Latinos and African Americans keeping strong links and building a greater future together. But i'm still fighting the colonized mentality. Here I was, now coaching, at Pier 40 on Houston street, along the West Side High Way, on a roof-top artificial turf set-up. A mercenary with the leather and the wood, lending my Latino secret to 150 little white children before Dora the Explorer came along and gave every white American kid a Brown friend. Passing the side of my eye over at the only other Brown person within eye sight. And if any of us were going to have community that felt like our exchange, sharing ancestral code in the privacy of our own love, we were peeking over at it. Unfortunately though, for the rest of the season, it wouldn't feel that way again.

Up until that summer it had been seven years since i spoke within breath of a pro ballplayer, and boy was I within breath of a pro ballplayer! Old San Juan, 1999, on vacation with my Grandmother, when by the pigeon-busy fountain the plaza by El Morro, I recognized a tall dark man in a white suit to be Orlando Cepeda! Man was I geeked, what do you know, if it wasn't my lucky day, I NEEDED to meet him! Upon shaking his hand my Grandmother was swift in interceding to greet him on my behalf. From what I understood, she informed him that I myself played baseball, and was bound for St. John's. Probably assuming I was on board to play for the Johnnies, he took it from there, pitching me a few animated word-strings, with which I attempted to catch up, nodding the same spacey stare I had throughout my life, whenever confronted with Spanish. Recognizing that I was another one of those Boricuas who didn't know Spanish and didn't know how to tell him, he turned towards my Grandmother, told her off, and walked away shaking his head.

Years had to pass through my system before I was ready to accept what I began to cool down enough to understand. He was a proud Puerto Rican man from a generation in which he traveled to cities which wouldn't allow him in the same hotel as others; he was a proud Puerto Rican man surviving the U.S. governments attempts to acculturate his people, coerce them to abandon their language along with other facets of their identity. My frustration was valid, for years I had faced the same rejection from elders whom discovered I did not speak the language; you reject a child you either motivate them to take over the world, or, you set a bully called shame before a future it's hard not to avoid. But, I no longer resent the man, and I've since prepared myself enough to at least make a request, in Spanish, that they work with me as it might take a little time for me to understand and respond.

In the 7 years since that encounter, most of the Latinos i've made acquaintance with have not been Puerto Rican. There's no surprise there, as the population of what for decades was the dominant Spanish speaking group in the city, continues to dwindle to the greater settlement of Mexican and Dominican immigrants. Neither do I take the common reaction I've received from our Primo-Latinos, who learn of my handicap, as coincidence.

"Alot of Puerto Rican, I meet, say they don't know Spanish," they often reveal.

My family migrated to New York in the 1940′s. My Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother struggled to raise the five of their children who survived illnesses of poverty (a couple of her children died in my Great Grandmother's arms). Although my Great Grandfather had gained a bit of notoriety as a professional boxer, in those days, a professional boxer needed a side job or two to make ends meet. And there was no work in El Fangito. So they took a one way flight to New York, which the colonial government in place to rule Puerto Rico for the U.S. had been encouraging of citizens, for two reasons: 1) It was in the interest of U.S. industrialists to transform the economy, so that it tailored towards the manufacturing of garments *the states were receiving enough sugar from the other islands, already*, and they didn't need so large a workforce for that, meaning, alot of people out of work 2) Those out of work in Puerto Rico, might be able to suit industry looking for cheap labor in the states. So farms in Jersey, and factories in New York were happy to use us.

Before long my Great Grandmother was working a laundry mat and my Great Grandfather was sticking labels to cans at the Campbell soup factory in Brooklyn. And my Grandmother, was finally in school. She was 8 years old and had never been in a classroom. The reason being, back in Puerto Rico, the U.S. imposed colonial government had strangely instated an English only policy for some time (it was an attempt to force assimilation), and according to my Grandmother, she was denied entry because she failed to prove she already had some basic knowledge of English (so many children, so little schools, this was the standard a Puerto Rican had to meet on their own island).

To make a long story short, Grandma grew up, growing into a factory herself, having been educated on how to work for The Man. She earned enough to eat and together with my Grandpa, feed some children, who grew up, pacified in a Kingdom Hall when they were with her; and schooled on bars/ 'loose women' /and his time in the Korean War when they were with him. They in turn grew into a defected copy of the American Dream, and vowed that they'd throw it out before they ever watch it replay, in their own children. Figured their culture might be in the way of them breaking this poverty (hmm… what do the White folk have that we don't have? Money! Soooo… what, DONT, the white folk have that we have??), and simply avoided the trouble of teaching my cousins, my siblings, and I, among other things Puerto Rican: Spanish. They must have not foreseen all of the job opportunities I would lose to non-Latinos whom can speak the Spanish that my Latino self cannot, OR that I'd be required to learn it in high school, anyway.

All wit aside, there is something to be said about us being who we are. There is something to be said that will flick the sun on for humanity in the morning, there are thousands of blogs that can be written about the brilliance of our People, the vibrancy of our spirit. And there is something to be said, that will pull a dark room out of the light bulb, for, we aint coming round to play as often now, as we did between the times of Roberto Clemente and Roberto Alomar, in Baseball we are a dying breed. And I can talk about how Pennsylvania and Florida are pulling us away from New York, but there are statistics that tell a deeper tale than that. Something is pulling us apart from ourselves, and our head aint in the game because of it. Stick ball didn't carry the day and I challenge you to name the last NuyoRican star in the Bigs… It's been awhile since I myself have put on a mitt, and it's been awhile since I've found work. I wouldn't feel so bad about neither had it been 150 of our brilliant young Puerto Ricn youth in my hands that summer... at least i'd be in the comfort of knowing they're taking it to a better place.

A recent study on Puerto Rican youth in New York City opens up with the following:
"Theirs was the first Latino group to settle in New York City in large numbers. Most speak English, and they are United States citizens, entitled to the benefits and security that new immigrants can only dream of. But by many measures, young Puerto Ricans are faring far worse than the young Dominicans, Mexicans and other Latinos in New York, according to a report to be released on Monday by the Community Service Society of New York, a leading antipoverty group." ^

Why is it that we have been here for so long, and we have such a low rate of graduation from high school and enrollment in college? such a legacy of crime and single parent households? such a high rate of poverty? The article you will read is startling, but it doesn't give context… it leaves us pointing fingers, so as to escape the real reasons. Because the real reason for our destruction, and the real solution for our salvation will not come to light if we do not learn about who we are, where we come from, and how to reclaim who we are and where we come from, so as to move forward in building a future from a whole and complete place. We must gather the pieces; sweep and mop the facility, clean and restock it's bathrooms, chalk the baselines, plow the field and cut the grass. Set an open world of existence to play the game in. Learning to play our positions, together.

Because we are going nowhere going it alone… And we are noONE, if we're busy trying to be the most unLatino Latinos, while the world learns to be more Latino than we are…

I used to love Baseball.

Game On!

Monday, November 22, 2010

People's Opposition to Bloomberg's Bumrush of Incompetent Ms Black as NYC Ed Chief

Time is running out for us who prefer an experienced educator to head the nation's largest and most diverse public school system. Time is also running out for those of us who prefer to dismantle Mayoral Control/Dictatorship and seek to build an antiracist and democratic People's Board of Education grounded in direct parental, educator and student decision-making power.

Here are a few samples of righteous people's outrage and response to the current Bloomberg Corporatist takeover of public education by appointing another rich noneducator: Ms Cathie Black.

 CPE Member, Sister Educator Carmen Applewhite speaks TRUTH to Power at KISS-FM Town Hall Meet


Councilman Charles Barron Lays Out The Real Deal On Ms Cathie Black


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Peoples Protest Continues to Mount Against the Cathie Black BumRush

The 16 November Rump Bloomberg Meeting ( AKA the PEP meeting AKA The NYC Board of Education) was attended by a couple of hundred outrages and raucous parents, educators, students and communityfolk.

We share below just a few video snippets from the night's -once again- revealing meeting of Billionaire Bloomberg's lapdogs.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Making More Room for the CHARTERITES: City adds 16 schools to possible-closure list, bringing total to 47
by Maura Walz--

The city is eyeing 47 schools for possible closure next year, including 16 that have not previously been targeted by the city or the state.  

(for some, you may have to click on image to make bigger)

On the watch-list, which education officials released today, are 19 schools that the city tried to close last year but were saved by a successful union lawsuit. It also includes most of the 23 schools currently on the state’s list of lowest-performing schools that did not begin federally-mandated interventions this year. All 16 of the newly-identified schools are elementary and middle schools.
City officials said today they had learned lessons from last year’s thwarted closure process and are re-strategizing for this year.

The city is hoping to avoid some of the confusion and shock that marred their efforts to close schools last year by announcing their plans early and by clarifying their rationale for shuttering schools, officials said. Last year a state appeals court ruled that the city failed to meet legal requirements for notifying the community about its closure plans.

Officials have already posted their criteria for adding schools to their watch-list to the Department of Education’s website: schools were tagged if they received two consecutive C’s, or a single D or F, on their progress reports, or if they received anything below a proficient rating on their last Quality Review.

Some schools met this criteria but are not on the city’s list: elementary schools that outperform their districts on state tests; high schools with higher graduation rates than the citywide average; schools that received high marks on their Quality Review; and new schools that received a report card for the first time this year.

Three schools that are on the state’s list of lowest-achieving schools are notably absent from the city’s list of schools targeted for possible closure: Washington Irving High School, Boys and Girls High School and P.S. 65 (Mother Hale Academy). Officials said today that they have decided not to close these three because of strides the schools have made under new leadership.

City officials stressed today that their list is not definitive. More schools could be added to the list once the state releases this year’s update to its “persistently lowest achieving” schools list and after high school progress reports are released in several weeks.

Decisions about which elementary and middle schools the city plans to close will be handed down by the end of next month; decisions about high schools will follow by mid-December. The city will then begin its formal public approval process, which involves hearings at the schools and eventual votes by the citywide school board.

If the city eventually decides to close all or most of the schools identified today, it would be a drastic jump in the number of schools it has closed under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The city has phased out — or is in the process of phasing out — 91 schools since Bloomberg took office.

Last year, the mayor promised to turn around the lowest-performing 10 percent of city schools over the next four years, double the number federal officials have required the state to identify.
Teachers union chief Michael Mulgrew sharply criticized the city for the potential surge in closures. ”If Joel Klein and Michael Bloomberg want their legacy to be closing every school in New York City, they should be ashamed,” Mulgrew said. “They should be focused on fixing schools, not shuttering them.”

City officials also said they are changing their strategy of communicating with the schools marked for possible closure as it evaluates them. Last year, teachers and parents protested that the first time they had heard from the DOE was when the city announced its plans to close the school.

This year, the city is planning early meetings with principals, school leadership teams, parent associations and community groups before they finalize plans for the school. City officials characterized those meetings both as attempts to learn more about the school beyond what is captured in their data and to prepare the schools for whatever final decision is announced.

Those meetings have already begun or have been scheduled for 33 of the schools; officials said today they are waiting to schedule meetings at the schools slated for closure last year until this year’s high school progress reports have been released.