Friday, March 5, 2010

March 4 National Day of Struggle for Public Education! 
CPE Was There in Full Effect!

More than 200 students, parents, educators and activist citizens rallied at City Hall to defend Public Education as a Human Right and to vow to fight for the ending mayoral dictatorship under Bloomberg and Klein. Below is a short video where we gave Chancellor Klein the appropriate greeting as he scurried into City Hall lake a rat that he is. We then listened to Brother Jitu Weusi who was among about 25 speakers that afternoon. High School and Middle School Students spoke passionately about their schools' problems and how they are self-organizing to defend and improve their schools.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            CONTACT:  David Galarza
March 4, 2010                                                                                                            917-573-9250

Shut Down City Hall Not Our Public Schools!
Coalition for Public Education Opposes Closures, Charter School
Invasion of Public School Buildings, Mayoral Control

CPE Promotes the Creation of a People’s Board of Education

Hundreds of members and allies of the citywide Coalition for Public Education/Coalicion por la Educacion Publica, gathered today on the steps of City Hall to protest the failed leadership of Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein in virtually every aspect of public education. Related rallies and protests occurred throughout the country and around NYC in what is being called a National Day of Action to Defend Public Education.

The Coalition for Public Education, comprised of students, parents, educators, school staff, activists and community groups, denounced the plan of “Bloomberg-Klein” and their illegitimate Panel on Educational Policy (PEP) to close 19 public schools.

“We are vehemently opposed to mayoral control, charter school invasions of public school buildings and privatization,” said parent leader and CPE member Muba Yarofulani.

“I am participating today because I want to keep my school open, do well in my studies, graduate and go on to college,” said Matthew Anduce, a 9th Grader at EBC High School for Public Service 

“We are on the steps of City Hall to deliver a message to the City Council as well. We hold the 29 council members who voted to extend the term limits (to 3 terms) guilty,” said CPE’s Akinlabi Mackall. “Less than 3 weeks ago in Albany, the Coalition voiced a similar message to the state legislature, which voted last summer to extend mayoral control of the NYC public schools.”

CPE maintains that the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) is an illegitimate body pretending to hear our concerns, questions, criticisms and pleas.  In reality we believe it was created to give an air of legitimacy to mayoral control and the corrupt and immoral actions of Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein who are pushing privatization at a breakneck pace.

"Our school system is in dire need of a course correction. We need to be focused on moving forward the majority of our children-- and end the practices of segregating (students), co-locating (public and charter schools), laying off school support personnel, and closing schools-- and focus on educating our children to be prepared to compete in our 21st century, globalized economy," said Lillian Roberts, Executive Director of District Council 37, the city’s largest municipal union. 

“The Coalition for Public Education/Coalicion por la Educacion Publica has embarked on a mission to build a Human Rights Education System,” said CPE’s Ellen Raider. “CPE proposes building a People's Board of Education from the ground up.”

“We are currently engaged in creating Community Councils in every school that we work with so that parents, students, educators, staff, administrators and the community can fight the privatizers and usher in a People's Board of Education that will do the will of the people,” said Mark Torres of CPE.

Earlier in the day, CPE members joined over 100 students at a teach-in at the House of the Lord Church in Brooklyn. They later participated in the March 4th Ad Hoc Coalition's coordinated rally and march from the Governor's NYC offices to the critically important MTA rate and student metro card hearings.



Below are a few fotos from the Day of Defense for Public Education.

 Brotha Teacher Vincente Droppin Truth as Students listen on...

Brotha teacher Jitu Weusi Welcomes EBC Hi School to the Teach-in at the Historic House of the Lord Church. He reminds them of the historic importance of the day, where they are and that they, too, are making history.

EBC High School students and community folk at the CPE Teach-In on Thursday 4 March 2010.

Charles Barron speaks truth to power at City Hall. Vows to fight for public education to be in the hands of parents, students and educators... not big corporations and noneducators!

Brotha Akinlabi MC for the CPE Press Rally introduces middle school students who are being squeezed out of their school by a Charter School.

East Bushwick Congregation High School Students Speak About their fight to save their school from being overcrowded and possibly closed. They organized some 80 students to spend the school day in solidarity with the National Protest to defend Public Education.

Councilwoman Tish James pledges to fight with us for a quality FREE Public Education.

Middle School Student Activists Stand Strong! Vow to study hard and work hard for educational excellence.

On to the Next Demonstration!

Part of the big crowd at the 4PM rally and march in defense of Public Education.


From CPE-CEP CoChair Mark Torres: 
March 4th Was A Great Day In Our Long Struggle Ahead

The Coalition for Public Education/Coalicion por la Educacion Publica (CPE-CEP), and its Allies had a momentous day [on March 4] and we should all be congratulated.  Our March 4th Day of Action to Defend Public Education activities were extremely well attended by youth, parents, educators, school staff, and community members, the very same people who will build a Human Rights Based Education System and Society.

All CPE-CEP members and our allies must understand that we make a powerful force that this city will not be able to ignore.  As we continue to do our work and build our organization we must be crystal clear about some key points:

1. We will only be able to build a Human Rights based Education System and Society if we build our organization. 
For too long many of us have been in the habit of jumping from issue to issue, and from campaign to campaign without building something that will allow us to act and not just react.  The time has come for us to build "One Big Coalition."  Clearly, if we are successful in this task then we will be able to replace the current mayoral control dictatorship with a democratic People's Board of Education.
2. The issue of race must be first and foremost on our minds and addressed in our work. 
We must be honest with ourselves and admit  that we need to build an organization that is open to all and that recognizes the importance of Black and Latino leadership and unity.  Black and Latino youth make up more than 2/3 of our public school population and will, along with parents, educators, school staff and community members, be the decisive force in our struggle.

3. The overt and subtle forms of sexism and disrespect of our sisters that occurs every single day in our "progressive" organizations, schools, Agency for Children's Services, Court Systems, and in society in general must be fought in an open and decisive manner.
  Sisters must be at every level of leadership and not made to carry an overwhelming part of the work.  Now that we are in Women's History Month it is timely for us to reevaluate our work and see if we are consistently battling against our ingrained sexist attitudes.
4. Our struggle must pay special attention to the needs and empowerment of poor and working people across this city. 
Yes, class does matter and we should recognize this by becoming organizers and not just activists and advocates.  Those of us with our advance degrees and middle class sensibilities must understand that the poor and working people of this city don't need saviors or people to speak for them.  They will speak for themselves, and ultimately win this struggle for themselves and for all of us. It's time for us to go out, in twos, and spread the message that we need a Human Rights based Education System and Society.  We must also go out and organize folks to unleash the power that they hold inside themselves.  With this unleashed power we must then build our organization and defeat our enemies.

5. Our fight is a righteous fight, a moral fight, a fight that will show itself to be true and honest.  As we fight this good fight we must always understand that we will attract more positive people and energy.  However, we must also prepare ourselves for the attacks of our enemies and detractors.  We must be prepared to be denounced and attacked by those who want to continue feeding corporate america our tax dollars.  These are the same people who want corporate america to continue controlling our city, state and national governments.  These people will go into their bag of dirty tricks and try to divide us.  The only way to prevent these tricks from being successful is to have open and candid discussions among ourselves, with our allies and even with those who don't support us.

In closing, I want to thank all CPE-CEP members and our allies for making Thursday March 4 truly a Day of Action to Defend Public Education.

Thank you and God bless you all,

Mark A. Torres
Co-chair CPE-CEP

Mark. A. Torres,
Congratulations to you and all the brothers and sisters who made the Day of Action a success. It is the beginning of a mass movement to create a Human Rights, Anti-racist, Anti-sexist Education in New York City. 
There will be efforts to divide and conquer, to corrupt leadership and to infiltrate saboteurs. Some will join the movement for potential personal gain. This is inevitable.
Yet, the goals you outline are clear, worthy and must be pursued. Stay strong.
In solidarity,
Donald H. Smith, Ph.D.
Chair, the New York City Board of Education's Commission on Students of African Descent, 1994-97
CPE-CEP In The News...

Marchan contra recortes a escuelas públicas

Estudiantes de la escuela secundaria EBC protestan ayer 
en las escalinatas de la Alcaldía.
(Foto: Manuel Avendaño/EDLP) 

NUEVA YORK — En el día nacional para defender la educación pública, los neoyorquinos realizaron varias protestas en la ciudad contra los anunciados recortes presupuestales que producirían cierre de escuelas en la ciudad y el estado.

Varios centenares de personas —entre activistas, funcionarios electos, educadores, padres y estudiantes— se reunieron en las escalinatas de la Alcadía para protestar contra la política educativa del alcalde Michael Bloomberg.
Los manifestantes, miembros de la Coalición por la Educación Pública, denunciaron un plan municipal dirigido a cerrar 19 escuelas públicas. Señalaron también la “invasión” de escuelas charter en los edificios de las escuelas públicas. “En la escuela 241 de Harlem los baños se están cayendo, mientras que las charter tienen baños nuevos y hasta pizarras electrónicas”, dijo Vicente Montero, dirigente de la coalición.

“Estamos pidiendo que mantengan la educación pública, que no la destruyan”, agregó.

Citó como ejemplo a los estudiantes de la escuela secundaria EBC, presentes en la manifestación. 

“Hay periodos que no tienen dónde estar, no tienen clases que tomar… tienen que sentarse en la cafetería o en la biblioteca sin nada que hacer”, explicó Montero.

Santos Crespo, dirigente del sindicato de empleados de la Junta de Educación, indicó que hay más de 600 millones de dólares en contratos fuera de la ciudad, en labores que los trabajadores municipales podrían realizar. 

Hasta el cierre de esta edición, mensajes dejados al Departamento de Educación no fueron respondidos.

From the

Educating for Democracy: Students, Parents, Educators Protest at City Hall

Joel Shatzky  •  English Professor 

March 4, 2010 06:31 PM

As part of a National Day of Action to Defend Public Education, the Coalition for Public Education held a demonstration today (3/4/2010) in front of City Hall. Over 200 people showed up for the rally which included students, parents, union leaders, and educators.

Prior to the demonstration, Akinlabi Mackall, Coordinator of the CPE, discussed the objectives of the demonstration. Among the issues that most concerned his group which represents over twenty community organizations throughout the city, Mackall emphasized the negative impact that Mayoral control of the city schools has had upon the African American and Latino communities. He cited in particular the impact that the closing of city schools and division of the buildings into smaller charter and district schools has had on the neighborhood communities and students, especially when the schools are called "failures." Mackall urged that instead of a Mayoral-controlled board of education, there should be a "People's Board of Education" in which neighborhood parents and real educators be empowered to make decisions about school policy.

William McDonald, an organizer for the CPE, expressed his disgust with the Bloomberg Administration for waiting for a month after the Mayoral election before announcing the closing of twenty public schools. McDonald cited the impact that the "small school" concept had on his own son's school, Springfield Gardens in Queens. He observed that the charter school housed there was recently prevented from continuing the practice of removing Special Education students from the school, a tactic that has an impact on improving the "test score ratings" of these schools after removing such special needs students. Both Mackall and McDonald echoed the sentiments of many protestors and speakers that "Bloomberg is out of control" and urged the Mayor to "fix the schools, not close them." During his speech, McDonald indicated a future lobbying effort in Albany where the CPE will tell the lawmakers to fix the mess Bloomberg has created "or you're going to be looking for another job."

Most all of the many speakers urged that the decision-making process that led to school closings and other policies that have had a negative effect on students and communities in minority neighborhoods be given to parents and educators and not business people who know nothing about educating children. 

Two students from EBC High School, Matthew Anduce and Annie Sookra, spoke movingly of the effect that the school closings have had on their high school with overcrowding and the decline in morale of their classmates as a result. They particularly criticized the proposed elimination of the MTA student free transportation card and predicted that the added expense of paying for school transportation will increase the student dropout rate.
Councilman Charles Baron echoed the sentiments of a number of speakers when he declared that "the City Council owes us" for allowing the Mayor a third term in office. He expressed his frustration with the lack of response by the City Council and the Department of Education to the concerns of the communities affected by these school closings and urged his listeners to consider civil disobedience as the only alternative left to dramatize their need to have the implementation of Bloomberg's policies stopped. He suggested that the next time there is a rally, the participants be prepared to "Take Tweed over," the building which houses the Board of Education. 

Among union leaders who spoke at the rally was Veronica Montgomery-Costa, President of local 372 representing Board of Education Employees who supported the demands of the Coalition and Oliver Greg, a fellow member of that union who accused Bloomberg of taking the resources out of public education to benefit the privileged. He pointed out that since Bloomberg took control of the schools, the budget for the administration of the Department of Education has tripled. 

Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters, spoke against "the reckless privatization of the public schools" by the Bloomberg Administration and that it was time to take back the schools.During her speech, School Chancellor Joel Klein scurried into the building past the demonstrators and was roundly booed as he walked up the steps. It best expressed the opinion of the participants in the rally on the Chancellor's policies.</div>