Wednesday, January 27, 2010


                  The Coalition for Public Education/Coalición por la Educación Pública is an independent, non-sectarian, and non-governmental organization with short, middle and long-term educational and social goals.  We believe that education is a human right and we want to ensure that New York City public schools are places of learning in which all stakeholders (parents, students, educators, non-pedagogical staff, administrators and the community) are engaged in a democratic process to provide a free and quality education to all its students, from Pre-school to College.
                  Our coalition is based on antiracist/antisexist democratic grassroots organizing concepts and not based on the idea that any one individual, politician, union leader, or political messiah will save us.
                  Our coalition will participate in election campaigns but will focus on mass action as a primary vehicle for social change.  Therefore, we will organize the distribution of leaflets, mass rallies, forums, civil disobedience, petitions, referendums, web-based actions, economic boycotts, and other grassroots tactics.  We also understand that we are not alone in struggle and that we must unite with other groups and individuals who support democracy, self-determination and the empowerment of our communities.

What We Want:

I.               A Peoples' Board of Education
II.              Local control of our Public Schools not Mayoral Dictatorship!
III.           Better Public Schools not Charter Schools!
IV.            Power to Parents, Students and Educators!
V.               Implementation of a mandatory Antiracist Curriculum!
VI.             Recruiting educators from our neighborhoods to achieve racial parity!
VII.       Money for Education Not War!
VIII.        OUR Schools = Neighborhood School Control!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Demonstration Against 
School Closings

Grassroors Education Movement (GEM)-sponsored school closing protest in front of Mayor Bloomberg's posh Eastside mansion-- January 28, 2010

by Joel Shatzky --English Professor

Posted: January 22, 201-

On Thursday afternoon- January, 28, 2010, a group of about 300 teachers, students, parents, and supporters demonstrated in front of Mayor Bloomberg's home on 79th Street to protest his decision to close twenty public schools for having "failed" to improve student test scores sufficiently.

In a press release, Julie Cavanagh, a teacher at PS 15 in Brooklyn, who, along with Norman Siegel, a First Amendment lawyer, succeeded in obtaining a permit for the demonstration in front of the Mayor's home, accused Mayor Bloomberg of proposing a "radical and destructive educational agenda that would privatize our public school system." Ms. Cavanagh's school building also houses a charter school, PAVE, which, as mentioned in my previous column ("Senator Eric Adams and the Charter School Dilemma") is run by Spencer Robinson, son of hedge fund billionaire Julian Robinson.

Included in the press release is a statement by Lydia Bellahcene, a parent at PS 15, which is losing space in its building to accommodate the charter school:
The Mayor and Chancellor should not be making policies to divide, dismantle, and undermine our public schools: instead, they should be providing support and resources so that ALL of our children can be successful.
In a democratic society, there should be opportunities for all young people to get as good an education as their initiative and motivation can give them. Those who are less fortunate because of personal circumstances should be afforded the necessary attention to obtain an education that can give them a chance to take their place in our society as productive citizens, able to contribute to it as well as they can. But it seems that the Mayor's approach to public education is to divide groups against each other for needed resources: public versus charter school, an approach that undermines our democratic values.


Seung Ok, a teacher at William H. Maxwell High School, a school scheduled for closing, pointed out in an interview that although the Mayor had considered the school too unsatisfactory to remain open, "ninety per cent of the students graduate although not necessarily in four years. Some go on to Ivy League schools and are quite successful."

Ok pointed out that because of another school closing several years ago in the same area, the student population at Maxwell expanded rapidly from 900 to 2,000. The necessary resources for the influx of these students, many of whom had special needs, were not forthcoming. As a result, despite all the effort the teachers provided to make up for the new challenges, the school was given an "F" in the Mayor's rating system. Soon after, the parents of the "A-list"--high-achieving--students transferred them to other schools and Maxwell High School will now be closed.

Richard McDonald, an 11th grade student at Maxwell, expressed his concern that the vocational courses offered at the school in cosmetology, lens-crafting for eyeglasses, and other specialized skills that would give students opportunities for good-paying jobs will no longer be readily available to public school students since such programs are rare. He felt that the school was being unfairly treated and that now "other kids will have to pay for the education I got for free." Richard, fortunately, will be interning soon at a lens-making establishment which will give him an opportunity to get a decent job.

Attending the demonstration to show his support was State Senator Bill Perkins, whose district extends into Harlem. He noted that the area is now "saturated with charter schools, to the disadvantage of public schools when a charter school is pushed into a public school facility." Perkins sees the Mayor's agenda as not only to "privatize the public schools" but other public areas such as sections of Central Park. He also pointed out that there is no conclusive evidence that charter schools produce better results than public schools although they serve to separate school communities into groups rivaling each other for space and resources.


Senator Bill Perkins and Richard Barr.

"As we remember Martin Luther King, jr., I wonder what he might be thinking as he looks down at what is happening to our schools again: separate and unequal," Senator Parkins observed. Others at the demonstration looked at the impact that these closings are having on teachers.

"The closing of the public schools is an effort to break the union," said Angela de Souza, a public school teacher who came in support of the demonstration. She suggested that the most effective way to improve the public schools is to "get rid of segregated housing, poverty and the hopelessness that it breeds."

foto by John Lawhead

Richard Barr, a supporter whose children attended the public schools, and is Vice President for Political Action in School District 3, was asked what he would have done had his children attended a school with serious disciplinary problems. He replied: "I would have had as my first objective to work together with others to make the school better; not flee from it."

Across the street near the Mayor's house, before the demonstration began, middle-school youngsters from a private school were exiting the building at the end of classes. Several were asked: "Do you have to study for a lot of city-wide tests like the public school kids?" They couldn't recall ever having taken one.

Later, on the other side of the street, students, teachers and supporters marched up and down 79th St. chanting against the closings, as dozens of policemen stood watch, guarding the Mayor's home from the peaceful demonstrators.

Ms. De Souza hopes that instead of relying on the hype created by the Mayor and Chancellor about charter schools, members of the press will go into the public schools and investigate them for themselves, seeing the challenges that many hard-working teachers and serious students face every day. Perhaps then they would be better able to understand what is really happening to Mayor Bloomberg's public school system.

foto by John Lawhead

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Alfred E Smith Students Use HipHop Video to Help Stop School Closing!

AES Proposed Phase-Out: Shop Classes put to music by Mark Noakes from Save AES CTE HS on Vimeo.

AES Students Know that Art Is a Weapon!

This is just another big piece of evidence revealing the brilliance and determination of our youth to struggle to be educated and productive citizens for their community. It is absolutely clear that the BloomKlein Dept of MisEducation (DOME) is not concerned with our youths' desires to be educated and pro-active citizens. As this powerful video implies: it's all about closing budget gaps and profits.

We need to continue to find ways to support these creative and heroic students of Alfred E. Smith Career and Technical Education High School (AES) to not only keep their school open, but to force the DOME to provide extra funds (that they squander elsewhere) to assist in improving the educational work developing their by their teachers, staff and administrators. Further, the DOME should find ways to replicate AES's educational successes in other parts of the city.

Close the DOME! Not our Schools!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Human Rights and Public Education: A Local and International Concern!

The Foundation of the Coalition for Public Education/Coalición por la Educación Pública is that Education is a Human Right! 

What does "Education is a Human Right" mean?

Local school systems and state and federal governments are responsible for guaranteeing the human right to education for every child. There are many human rights standards and principles that must be guaranteed in order to fulfill the right to education.

1. Equal access to education, Article 13, ICESCR

2. Education must adapt to meet the needs of diverse children, Article 13, ICESCR

3. Good quality curricula and teaching methods, Article 13, ICESCR

4. Relevant and culturally appropriate curricula, Article 13, ICESCR

5. Adequately trained teachers, Article 13, ICESCR

6. Equity in resources, Article 13, ICESCR

7. Education must be aimed at the full development of the child's potential and abilities, Article 29, CRC

8. Education must develop respect for the child's cultural identity, language and values, Article 29, CRC

9. Right to special services for children with disabilities, Article 23, CRC

10. Education must promote self-esteem and self-confidence, Article 29, CRC

11. Right to rest, leisure and play, Article 31, CRC

12. Right to dignity, Preamble, Articles 28 and 29, CRC

13. Freedom from degrading treatment, Article 37, CRC

14. Right to health, Article 24

15. Right to an adequate standard of living, Article 27, CRC

16. Right to family, Article 9, CRC

17. Freedom from violence, abuse and maltreatment, Article 19, CRC

18. Freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention, Article 19, CRC

19. Right to security of person, Article 3, UDHR

20. Right to freedom of opinion and expression, Article 19, UDHR

21. Right to participate in government (including public education), Article 21, UDHR

22. Right to remedy when your rights have been violated, Article 8, UDHR

23. Right to monitoring of the school system, Article 2 and 13, ICESCR

24. Right to information and transparency, Article 2 and 13, ICESCR

Abbreviations: CRC—Convention on the rights of the child; ICESCR-International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; UDHR-Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Monday, January 11, 2010

Charter Schools: Separate and Unequal

A Short and Very Informative GEM 
(Grassroots Education Movement) Video

Some Important City-Wide Events in January: Part 1

Sisters and Brothers,

The following are just some of the city-wide events that are taking place this month. Part 2 will will give us some of the local organizing events that need our support. Please attend the following citywide events:

1. Emergency Citywide Parent Conference on School Closings
Normal Siegel, Civil Rights Attorney, Guest Panelist
Saturday January 16, 2010
The School of the Future
127 East 22 Street, 
Manhattan, NY 
Directions: 6 Train to 23 Street
Contact: Leonie Haimson, Class Size Matters, 
at (212) 674-7320 or

2. General Membership Meeting of 
The Coalition for Public Education/Coalicion por la Educacion Publica
Tuesday January 19, 2010
District Council 37
125 Barclay Street (Murray Street Entrance)
Room 9
Manhattan, NY
Directions: 1,2,3, A, C Trains to Chambers Street
Contact: Mark A. Torres at (646) 696-8485 or

3. Citywide Rally to
Stop School Closings
Thursday January 21, 2010
In Front of Bloomberg's Home
17 East 79 Street
(Between 5th and Madison Avenues)
Manhattan, NY
Directions: 6 Train to 77th Street
Contact: or (718) 601-4901

4. Mass Rally and Protest at the Panel for Educational Policy(PEP) Meeting
Stop School Closings
Tuesday January 26, 2010
Start signing in to speak at 5:30pm
29 Ft. Greene Place
Brooklyn, NY  11217
Directions: B,M,Q,R to Dekalb Avenue; C to Lafayette Avenue; 
G to Fulton Street; or 2,3,4,5 to Nevins Street
Contact: Mark A. Torres at (646) 696-8485 or