Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) Documents Harlem Community Protest of Evil Moskowitz's Bumrushing Her Charters In Public School Spaces 
This demo took place on Thursday 9 December outside of Eva Moskowitz's 
Success Charter School Offices in Harlem. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Charter Witch, Evil Moskowitz, Gets Charter-Checked in Cobble Hill!

This video depicts the very powerful fightback by the Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Community against the co-location of Eva Moskowitz's corporate backed Success Academy Charter School Network.  Nine New York City public schools are already being dislocated by Success Charter Network Schools.   Ms. Moskowitz has plans to open 30 more charter schools in New York City. 

Where will she ask for free space next? 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

We are Not Alone When It Comes to Fighting School Closures! 
Oakland, California
Oakland Unified School District board members voted 5 to 2 in favor of “restructuring” package which includes the closure of five elementary schools in the area. 

Oakland parents, students and educators are also struggling to hold onto their neighborhood schools. The economic crisis and the inability of those in power- locally, statewide and nationally- to solve this endemic problem is forcing ordinary folk to do extraordinary things. 

If we continue down this path of finding massive democratic ways to solve the problems of US public education, we will have won. So... there is no alternative but to continue to fightback and continue to refine our vision of a truly democratic/antiracist FREE public education system thruout the US.

 New America Media Editor's Note: A few weeks before Occupy Oakland moved into Frank Ogawa Plaza, the community of Lakeview Elementary School organized it's first action -- a march of students, parents, teachers and concerned community members to an Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) meeting. Videographer Siraj Fowler documented the multi-ethnic, intergenerational fight waged against the school closures and OUSD's eventual decision to close 5 schools.
New America Media Editor's Note: A few weeks before Occupy Oakland moved into Frank Ogawa Plaza, the community of Lakeview Elementary School organized it's first action -- a march of students, parents, teachers and concerned community members to an Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) meeting. Videographer Siraj Fowler documented the multi-ethnic, intergenerational fight waged against the school closures and OUSD's eventual decision to close 5 schools.

Saving Oakland's School from New America Media on Vimeo.

OUSD: The Fight Continues from New America Media on Vimeo.

OUSD Strikes Back from New America Media on Vimeo.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Occupy the Dept of Mis-Education! 
The Last PEP- Panel of Elite Puppets (the NYC PEP- panel on education policy) was interrupted by hundreds of OccupyWallStreet inspired educators and parents (and a few students).

This is the first time in more than 10 years where folk recognize the PEP as an illegitimate body AND proceed to ignore them and establish their own Board of Education effort. It is truly a new beginning that needs to be fleshed out by many meetings with parents, students and educators across the city.

The OccupyWallStreet Movement has inspired education activists to be more brazen in their actions to dismantle the privateers' bumrushing policies of controls-for-profits.

The video below depicts the very beginning of this fight. 

More Black & Latino parents, educators and students need to be at the center of this effort-- since they are the majority of the city. But, that requires a lot of work still needed to be done by Black/Latino/Asian organizers in the next few months.

Join us to make this happen! Email Akinlabi Makall <> if you want to become an active member of the Coalition for Public Education.
NYC Black/Latino Student-led Study Shows System Ain't Workin'!
To get a PDF version of the report, go to:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

~A Report on the Education Trial/Tribunal~
Joel Shatzky

--English Professor

Educating for Democracy: The People's Trial of Mayor Bloomberg 

Posted: 10/16/11-

CPE-CEP Sister Brenda Walker and son, Kaashief Toomer stated that the testimonies of resistance and struggle inspired them to continue the  struggle to defeat Mayoral Control.
Shortly after Mayor Michael Bloomberg assumed control of the New York City school system, he presented his programs as a national leader in "educational reform." But there has been evidence in the New York public schools in the recent past of cheating on standardized tests by teachers and supervisors.

Moreover, the much publicized "success" of the mayor's program has been in part based on inflated test scores and the "dumbing down" of the tests themselves. Yet under the mayor's "leadership" Bloomberg continues to close down "failing" schools and replace them with charter schools causing wide-spread disruption to students, parents and veteran teachers. As a result of these closings, some of the most valuable and experienced teachers lose their positions and end up in "ATR" (Absent Teacher Reserve) where they are misused as substitute teachers with no permanent position since the principals are reluctant to hire high-salary veterans and prefer to employ cheaper, inexperienced teachers to meet their "bottom line." This is the business model of education that the Bloomberg Administration has imposed.

At a "trial" held at DC 37 of AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees sponsored by the Coalition for Public Education and hosted by Sam Anderson, a noted educational leader dedicated to wresting the school system out of mayoral control, testimony was given by dozens of parents, teachers and concerned educators describing the negative effect the mayor's "educational reform" has produced in what seems to be a part of a nationwide attempt to privatize the public schools, deskill teachers, strip them of their union rights, and firmly establish a two-tier educational system: one for the privileged and one for everyone else.

The all-day trial was adjudicated by such well-known legal authorities as Thomas Mariadson, of the Asian-American Legal Defense Fund, Esmeralda Simmons, of the Center for Law and Social Justice, Damon Hewitt of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and attended by City Councilman Charles Barron. Angel Gonzalez, a member of GEM (Grassroots Education Movement) described in detail the destructive effect of school closings in which a disproportionate number of Black and Latino students are pushed out of their neighborhood schools to accommodate charter schools. This process not only results in damage to the students but a disproportionate number of Black and Latino teachers end up as ATR's further diminishing the ethnic diversity of the system. Among other results of the co-location of charter schools in district schools is that they-the charters- cut back on needed programs in bi-lingual and special needs education.

Another aspect of the damage the Bloomberg administration has done to the NYC public schools was revealed by a teacher-parent whose daughter goes to Bronx Regional High School, the school attended by Nicole Suriel, the girl who was tragically drowned on a class beach visit last summer. The parent testified that he had repeatedly warned the school administration and Department of Education of neglect and indifference to student well-being at the school and blames the Administration for fostering this negligent attitude that resulted in the girl's death.

The teacher also reported the conditions at the GED Plus school where he teaches which is located at Bronx Regional High School. The school is intended to offer a chance for high school dropouts ages 17-21, to get their General Education diplomas. However, according to the teacher's testimony, the school has no library, no arts programs, no gym, no special literacy program, no ELL for students whose first language is not English, and 35 in a class.

There were many other charges of mismanagement of the public schools by the Bloomberg administration. These included the dismissal of a twelve-year special ed veteran when the DOE discovered she hadn't taken a foreign language course in college; the excessive number of summonses and arrests of students of color where not only security personnel but also regular police with firearms patrol the former Brandeis High School. It had once been one of the best high schools in the City but was closed down so that a charter school can be "co-located" at the facility on the Upper West Side where the workers and teachers will be non-unionized. The testimony throughout the time I attended presented a consistent pattern of inadequate attention to and neglect of schools that desperately need more support.

And while these schools are "failing," Councilman Barron reported that during the period of the Bloomberg administration's control of the schools the DOE budget has increased from $11 billion to $24 billion while only 23% of the students graduating from the public schools are prepared for college. With a great many of the services for the city schools now "contracted out," Barron wonders where so much of this money is going with so little effect on improving public education.

At the same time, as pointed out by Leonie Haimson, a nationally known parent-advocate and Executive Director of Class Size Matters, a clearinghouse for information on class size, the actual number of students in classrooms K-12 has increased under the Bloomberg administration, despite the fact that $650 million each year for the past three were specifically appropriated by the State legislature under the Contracts for Excellence law to reduce class size. Moreover, Haimson pointed out that several programs that have no research to support them are being vigorously expanded under the Mayor's watch: paying students for improving test scores and increasing the use of on-line (computer-based) instruction.

An alternative to such destructive practices was offered at the hearing in an ICOPE (Independent Commission on Public Education) video created by a group of high school students who actually asked other students what they felt would improve their schools. The video, based on a study called YRNES (Youth Researchers for a New Education System)
found that in addition to wanting to be treated with greater respect by teachers and other staff, about 80% of those students questioned expressed an interest in participating in leadership roles in their school. Perhaps if other school administrators, besides the Mayor, heeded the students' request, there might be some marked improvement in their performance in learning.

If the "Trial of Mayor Bloomberg" showed anything, it was that his programs were more expensive, more destructive, and more demoralizing with no significant improvement in learning outcome than prior to his administration. The sentence for what he's done is that he should be dismissed from his position as head school administrator so that more positive outcomes can be produced for our City's young learners: student, parent and teacher-based, not business-based education.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The People's Education Trial/Tribunal Was a Great Start! 
On to the People's Board Of Education! 
 Some of the early morning crowd who came out to DC37's Main Hall.

On Saturday 15 October more than 50 people testified about the decade-long educational crimes and violations they or their children have endured from the Bloomberg Mayoral Dictatorship regime.

Nearly 200 people were in attendance throughout the day at DC37. Those in attendance as well as the 8 prominent judges were moved by powerful testimony not only about the daily atrocities parents, students and educators have to face in our public schools, but also about how those who testified resisted and fought back... and were -at times- victorious.
 City Councilman Charles Barron making a point in his testimony as the judges and State Assemblywoman Inez Barron listen .

The 8 judges were:
•  Attny Esmeralda Simmons- Director, Center for Law and Social Justice (CLSJ) at Medgar Evers College
•  Attny Joan Gibbs- Senior Counselor, CLSJ/National Council of Black Lawyers
•  Attny Roger Wareham- December 12th Movement
•  Father Luis Barrios, PhD- Pastors for Peace
•  Ejim Dike- Human Rights Project (Urban Justice Center)
•  Attny Damon T. Hewitt- NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund
•  Attny Thomas Mariadason- Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund
•  Attny King Downing- American Friends Service Committee
The first group of witnesses to testify came from Brooklyn's La Union. They gave powerful testimony concerning the daily racist onslaughts they and their children have to face as Latino immigrants and English Language Learners.
CPE Members attending to the final work of the day. (Left to right: CoChair Muba Yarofulani, Roberta Pisker, Benita Rivera, Charmaine Phillip, Sandra Rivers, Akinlabi Mackall)

Over the next week or two, look to this blog and our website: for all the video proceedings and documents submitted at the Trial/Tribunal.

The Coalition for Public Education/Coalicion por La Educacion Publica (CPE-CEP) will also be calling for the Founding Convention of the People's Board of Education within the next couple of months. So, be prepared to come and participate in envisioning, organizing and fighting for a new more democratic school governance system rooted in our communities and cultures.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Charting the charter schools funding network
By Laurie Bennett

October 6, 2011

A map of the funders of the charter school movement looks much like a map of the funders of the conservative wing of the Republican Party.

To create the map below, we started with the Alliance for School Choice, an organization headed by Betsy DeVos, former chair of the Michigan Republican Party.

DeVos is the sister of Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater. Her mother, Elsa Prince Broekhuizen, is a big donor to conservative organizations such as Focus on the Family and the Media Research Center. Broekhuizen was also a major contributor to the effort to outlaw same-sex marriage in California.

The alliance is affiliated with the American Federation for Children, also chaired by Betsy DeVos.

Carrie Penner, a director of both organizations, is also on the board of the Walton Family Foundation, run by the Wal-Mart heirs. The Waltons give generously to charter school organizations around the country. (See a larger, expanded version of the map.)

You'll note in both versions of the map connections to conservative think tanks and nonprofits, including the Hoover Institution, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and the Federalist Society.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Brother Crespo is showing us what we should do everytime Bloomie Flunky Walcott is in our Presence!

October 6, 2011
CONTACT: Mickey Melendez
Assistant to the President
(212) 815-1372


This morning, to protest DOE's decision to layoff 701 school support workers, Local 372 President, Santos Crespo, Jr. and union members stood up and turned their backs to Chancellor Dennis Walcott during his speech, to demonstrate their solidarity with those who will be laid off tomorrow. Chancellor Walcott spoke at an event that honored DOE workers with over 20 years of service.

"We are one. When DOE lays off even one of our workers, we all hurt," said Mr. Crespo. 

"Chancellor Walcott failed to stand up for the lowest paid workers at DOE who are crucial in taking care of our city's children. How is DOE going to fill this void? These are workers who monitor the lunch room, the hallways, and the yards to ensure the safety of our school children and to help maintain order in the schools. These are workers who call parents when children do not attend school to find out what is happening with the child. These are workers who provide a communication link between parents and the school system," stated Mr. Crespo. Laying off these workers will further deteriorate our public schools which continue to take the brunt of budget cuts.

"We turned our backs on Chancellor Walcott as a statement because we are standing up for the future of New York City's school system and the future of our kids," stated Mr. Crespo.

On Friday, October 7, 2011, DOE will lay off 701 school support staff workers, affecting thousands of children in the poorest of New York City's communities. Local 372 members will wear black on Friday as a sign of mourning for the loss of their fellow workers.


Josefa Febrillet-Barr
Political Action Coordinator
Local 372
125 Barclay Street, 6th Floor

Monday, October 3, 2011


Tuesday, September 27, 2011


On-Line EDTrial Registration Forms

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Billionaire Bloomberg Fires 800 
Public School Workers!
A Massive FightBack is Building! 

Towards The People's Hearing On Educational Crimes & Violations-- 9AM Saturday 15 October 2011 at DC37

Department of Education layoffs hit poor areas hardest

Friday, August 26, 2011

The city's plan to lay off nearly 800 nonteaching public school employees this fall will hit the poorest districts the hardest - and spare the more affluent ones.

The disparate nature of the cuts - the biggest layoffs at any agency in the Bloomberg era - became apparent yesterday, when officials gave Local 372, which represents nonprofessional school employees, a detailed hit list.

Under the plan, District 5 in Harlem and District 6 in Washington Heights will lose almost 8% of their school aides, parent coordinators and community workers - 77 out of a total of 998.

At the same time, only five of 942 similar workers in Staten Island's District 31 - less than 1% - will get pink slips.

Likewise, three school districts in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Brownsville, East Flatbush and East New York will lose 4.4% of their nonprofessional workers.

But three more middle class districts in South Brooklyn that include Dyker Heights, Borough Park, Bensonhurst, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay and Mill Basin, will lose only 11 of 1,900 employees - less than 1%.

Those who could lose their jobs are some of the lowest-paid workers in the city and overwhelmingly black and Hispanic. School aides, the biggest group targeted, average about $11,000 a year for part-time work. Even with health insurance and pension costs factored in, the city pays about $27,000 annually for each of these workers.

"We've been trying for weeks to meet with Chancellor [Dennis] Walcott and each time they canceled . . . at the last moment," said Santos Crespo, president of Local 372.

"On Monday, they just called us in and hit us with these cuts," Crespo said. "They didn't even want to discuss ways we could cooperate to reduce costs."

At a time when the school system is spending hundreds of millions of dollars for more outside contractors and consultants, it's crazy to cut the most vulnerable workers.

DOE officials say Crespo's parent union, District Council 37, is to blame.

"During the budget negotiations this June, the chancellor called Lillian Roberts [executive director of DC 37] . . . to work . . . to avert DOE layoffs," agency spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz said.

"Unfortunately, the union would not agree to any real savings . . . so schools took a larger budget cut than might have otherwise been necessary."

In other words, if you don't do what Bloomberg wants, you and your members will suffer the consequences.

But why hit poor districts so heavily?

It could be just a coincidence, but some of the biggest cuts occurred in neighborhoods where City Council members were vocal critics of the mayor.

Ravitz said principals made all the decisions on cuts.

"Schools received their budgets at the end of June and made school level decisions about which staff they were keeping and which staff to excess," she said.

Several principals I spoke to yesterday disputed that version. They say budget officials from Tweed encouraged them to look to their nonprofessional staff for cuts.

Nevertheless, one thing seems clear: if these layoffs take effect, the poorest districts will suffer most.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Parents Take the Lead Summer Institute Ends On a High Note Of Activist Commitment
 Some of the Members of La Union who came to all six sessions....

The Coalition for Public Education/Coalicion por La Educacion Publica (CPE-CEP) just completed its first Parent Take the Lead Summer Institute to help mobilize for the Big FightBack Against Mayoral Control & Privatization this coming school year.

A summation of the Institute's power-filled work will be posted shortly here and on our listserv (

Meanwhile, here a few fotos of the lively and informative last session!

Serious discussion in which everyone participated.

 Sister Sharitza making a point while all listen intently.
Brother Rodrigo Receiving his Certificate from CPE-CEP CoChair Brother Akinlabi.
 Happy to receive their Certificates of Completion, La Union members celebrate.
Preparing to leave the Last Parent Take the Lead Institute Session that was packed with useful information, analysis and strategy-talk.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Moments in America for All Children

Every second a public school student is suspended.*
Every 8 seconds a high school student drops out.*
Every 18 seconds a baby is born to an unmarried mother.
Every 20 seconds a public school student is corporally punished.*
Every 21 seconds a child is arrested.
Every 34 seconds a child is born into poverty.
Every 42 seconds a baby is born without health insurance
Every 42 seconds a child is confirmed as abused or neglected.
Every minute a baby is born to a teen mother.
Every 2 minutes a child is born at low birthweight.
Every 4 minutes a child is arrested for a drug offense.
Every 8 minutes a child is arrested for a violent offense.
Every 18 minutes a baby dies before his or her first birthday.
Every 45 minutes a child or teen dies from an accident.
Every 3 hours a child or teen is killed by a firearm.
Every 5 hours a child or teen commits suicide.
Every 5 hours a child is killed by abuse or neglect.
Every 16 hours a mother dies from complications of childbirth or pregnancies.

* Based on calculations per school day (180 days of seven hours each)


How America Ranks Among Industrialized Countries in
Investing in and Protecting Children

1st in gross domestic product
1st in number of billionaires
1st in number of persons incarcerated
1st in health expenditures
1st in student expenditures
1st in military technology
1st in defense expenditures
1st in military weapons exports
17th in reading scores
22nd in low birthweight rates
23rd in science scores
30th in infant mortality rates
31st in math scores
31st in the gap between the rich and the poor
Last in relative child poverty
Last in adolescent birth rates (ages 15 to 19)
Last in protecting our children against gun violence

The United States and Somalia (which has no legally constituted government) are the only two
United Nations members that have failed to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

If we compare just Black child well-being in America to child well-being in other nations,
according to UNICEF:

• 70 nations have lower infant mortality rates including Cuba, Thailand and Costa Rica.
• 144 nations have a lower incidence of low birthweight, including the Dominican
Republic, Nigeria and Kazakhstan.
• Black women in the United States are more likely to die due to pregnancy complications
than women in 54 other nations, including Iran and Albania.


Each day in America

2 mothers die in childbirth.
5 children are killed by abuse or neglect.
5 children or teens commit suicide.
8 children or teens are killed by firearms.
32 children or teens die from accidents.
80 babies die before their first birthdays.
186 children are arrested for violent offenses.
368 children are arrested for drug offenses.
949 babies are born at low birthweight.
1,204 babies are born to teen mothers.
1,240 public school students are corporally punished.*
2,058 children are confirmed as abused or neglected.
2,163 babies are born without health insurance.
2,573 babies are born into poverty.
3,312 high school students drop out.*
4,133 children are arrested.
4,717 babies are born to unmarried mothers.
18,493 public school students are suspended.
* Based on 180 school days a year

Each day in America for White children

1 mother dies in childbirth.
1 child is killed by abuse or neglect.
3 children or teens commit suicide.
4 children or teens are killed by firearms.
25 children or teens die from accidents.
52 babies die before their first birthdays.
86 children are arrested for violent offenses.
266 children are arrested for drug offenses.
447 babies are born at low birthweight.
663 public school students are corporally punished.*
735 babies are born without health insurance.
811 babies are born into poverty.
823 children are confirmed as abused or neglected.
846 babies are born to teen mothers.
1,270 high school students drop out.*
1,776 babies are born to unmarried mothers.
2,722 children are arrested.
7,236 public school students are suspended.*
* Based on 180 school days a year

Each day in America for Black children

1 child is killed by abuse or neglect.
4 children or teens are killed by firearms.
5 children or teens die from accidents.
25 babies die before their first birthdays.
94 children are arrested for drug offenses.
96 children are arrested for violent offenses.
233 babies are born at low birthweight.
312 babies are born to teen mothers.
332 babies are born without health insurance.
417 children are confirmed as abused or neglected.
442 public school students are corporally punished.*
607 babies are born into poverty.
936 high school students drop out.*
1,296 children are arrested.
1,317 babies are born to unmarried mothers.
6,916 public school students are suspended.
* Based on 180 school days a year

Each day in America for Hispanic children

2 children or teens are killed by firearms.
5 children or teens die from accidents.
103 public school students are corporally punished.*
198 babies are born at low birthweight.
387 children are confirmed as abused or neglected.
402 babies are born to teen mothers.
944 babies are born without health insurance.
945 high school students drop out.*
955 babies are born into poverty.
1,495 babies are born to unmarried mothers.
3,726 public school students are suspended.*
* Based on 180 school days a year

Each day in America for Asian and Pacific Islander children

2 children are arrested for violent offenses.
2 public school students are corporally punished.*
4 children are arrested for drug offenses.
21 babies are born to teen mothers.
21 children are confirmed as abused or neglected.
57 babies are born into poverty.
64 children are arrested.
98 high school students drop out.*
117 babies are born to unmarried mothers.
351 public school students are suspended.
* Based on 180 school days a year

Each day in America for American Indian and Alaska Native children

1 child is arrested for violent offenses.
3 children are arrested for drug offenses.
20 children are confirmed as abused or neglected.
23 babies are born into poverty.
24 babies are born to teen mothers.
29 public school students are corporally punished.*
51 children are arrested.
62 high school students drop out.*
89 babies are born to unmarried mothers.
264 public school students are suspended.
* Based on 180 school days a year


Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Late George Carlin on Why US Education Sucks


Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Struggle For Control of Ocean Hill Brownsville Schools: 1968

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Connecticut State Ed Dept Bumrushes Bridgeport School Board
This news report shows that the CPE Parent Leadership Institute is VITAL for NYC parents to become a central PowerForce to save and improve public education. If it is happening in Bridgeport, CT., it definitely can happen in New York City!

Takeover Is About More Than Bridgeport: Malloy Must Address Real Problem: Suburban Kids Learn, Poor Kids Fail

The Hartford Courant
July 7, 2011

Bridgeport's forlorn plea for a state takeover of its schools isn't about another dysfunctional school board. It's about our abject failure to deal with the problem that, year in, year out, never fails to go away.

Suburban kids learn. Poor kids fail. It's a problem we won't, or can't, fix. Is it any surprise that an inept school board devolves into a squabbling mess?

One fourth-grader in four in Bridgeport reaches state goals for reading. The number is about the same — or worse — in Hartford, New Britain and New London. It's only slightly better in New Haven. All this has barely changed in decades of hand-wringing, commissions and studies.

No company or college wants graduates like this. We are talking tens of thousands of young people.

This is about Gov. Dannel P. Malloy deciding to make our greatest shame, the failure of city schools, his priority. Whether Malloy takes the lead here will tell us much about the success of his administration and the growth of Connecticut's economy. His office, not surprisingly, has been discussing the proposed takeover with Bridgeport officials for months.

The future of our state very much depends on whether cities like Bridgeport and its 20,000 students figure out a way to succeed. Because if it's not Bridgeport, it's New Britain or East Hartford, New Haven and Hartford. This is where our future workforce is coming from.

Cynics tell me the real problem is the raw material — poor children from dysfunctional families arrive in kindergarten years behind their counterparts. It certainly is. But I'd rather look to the striking success of the Achievement First schools in Hartford and New Haven and other public school programs for a glimpse of what can happen.

At least Hartford and New Haven have a clear schools strategy and strong leadership. Malloy, who showed no reluctance to jump in and pick a favorite in the Hartford mayoral primary last week, must provide the muscle to make sure Bridgeport also gets on track.

"He is not afraid to tackle big problems,'' Malloy's adviser, Roy Occhiogrosso, assured me. "Bridgeport has thrown up its hands and said, 'We can't do this.' "

Unfortunately for Malloy, this sticky mess comes at the wrong time and long before his promised legislative session devoted to education reform next year. He doesn't even have a permanent commissioner for the agency that will assist the Bridgeport schools, the state Department of Education. That department is facing a 20 percent cut in staff.

At the meeting Tuesday night where the Bridgeport board voted to ask for state intervention, a lot of folks in the audience of a couple hundred were slamming Mayor Bill Finch, who has little control over city schools and nothing to gain through his support of a takeover just 90 days before a tough primary.

"This is a state of the suburbs, by the suburbs and for the suburbs,'' Finch told me Wednesday before heading into a State Board of Education meeting where a takeover was approved by a 5-4 vote. "That leaves mayors to run quarantine zones for poverty."

Finch wisely thinks Bridgeport ought to be open to a range of solutions: more public school choice for parents, more charter schools, hiring better-trained teachers, and even private school vouchers for children trapped in persistently failing schools.

To make change, Bridgeport will need a strong new leader to replace its underwhelming superintendent of schools, John Ramos, who didn't even attend the board meeting this week where members voted 6-3 to ask for state control. Eventually, the city will probably need an appointed board of education that gives the mayor real authority.

And Bridgeport, which receives thousands of dollars less per pupil than Hartford, will also need more money.

At the top of the list to temporarily take charge in Bridgeport is Steve Adamowski, the highly regarded former superintendent in Hartford. Adamowski isn't perfect (teacher unions loathe him) but he would bring strong leadership, direction and immediately restore confidence of parents and taxpayers.

Just remember, this isn't merely about Bridgeport. It's about whether there is someone in all of Connecticut's government who can step up and finally make sure we address the problems of urban education. We're waiting, governor.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

High Stakes Testing- A Brilliant Strategy to Make Working Class Youth Disengage From School
Dr Mark Naison
Fordham University
   If I was going to figure out a plan to get working class youth to disengage from school, here would be my   major components. First, I would make students sit at their desks all day and force them to constantly memorize materials to prepare for tests.  Second, I would take away recess and eliminate gym. Third, I would cut out arts projects and hands on science experiments. Fourth, I would limit the number of school trips.  Fifth, I would take away extracurricular activities like bands, and dance teams and talent shows and reduce the number of athletic teams, so that student’s energies could be exclusively concentrated on strictly academic tasks.
     But wait a minute, isn’t that exactly what the dominant Education Reform movement in the United States is doing, from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on down. Aren’t  policy makers forcing schools to add more and more standardized tests and threatening teachers and principals with mass firings if their scores on those tests don’t go up, with the results that anything that isn’t test driven is eliminated from the school culture?
     Yes that’s what’s going on in education, all across the country. Starting with No Child Left Behind and continuing through Race to the Top, we are hell bent on making students from working class and poor families economically competitive with their wealthier peers by increasing their test scores and improving their graduation rates.  And the way to do that, we believe, is to make them devote more and more of their time to acquiring basic literacy and then translating those skills into passing standardized tests in every subject.
     But in formulating this strategy, which from the outside appears to be sensible and rational, we erase the world view of the very students in whose interests claim to be acting. We treat working class students as passive recipients of a service, who will do whatever we tell them to, rather than critical thinkers, and impassioned, sometimes impulsive historical actors, who respond to school policies based on their culture, values and their sense of how those policies effect their short term and long term interests.  
As someone who grew up in a tough working class neighborhood, and has worked in similar neighborhoods as a coach, community organizer and teacher, I can assure you that young people in these communities are anything but passive when it comes to how they respond to externally imposed authority.  Although some children in those communities accept authority unquestioningly, many more make it a matter of pride to challenge and test adults outside their families who claim power of them and get respect from their peers for doing so. No teacher, or coach, or social worker assigned to teach “in the hood” gets a free pass from that testing, which sometimes reaches the proportions of hazing. Whatever respect you get has to be earned.
   And what goes for teachers or community workers goes for schools. Most people in poor and working class neighborhoods do not see schools as working in their or their children’s interests. Their own experiences with schools have often not been that positive and their attitudes of skepticism and even hostility readily transfer to their children.  Overcoming that ingrained skepticism not only requires efforts by individual teachers, it requires efforts by the entire school to make students feel that it is a place where they are respected, where their voice can be heard and their culture validated, and where they can actually have some fun.  The best inner city schools I know not only make sure they maintain a welcoming atmosphere, but try to create a festive one, with music and the arts being part of every public meeting, with sports events being highlighted, and where student, parent and community input is incorporated into every dimension of the school culture.
    Now enter the Era of Test Mania, with administrators and teachers panicked they will lose their jobs if they do not produce continuous results on one high stakes test after another. Forget the school being a place where student and community creativity can be validated. Every bit of time, and energy and emotion must be devoted to test prep. Students have to sit still and listen, and memorize and regurgitate large bodies of information.  Time for self expression disappears. Time for physical activity is erased. The school becomes a place filled stress and fear.
       Some students will conform, and may even pass all the tests that they are given, but just as many- a good portion of them boys- will rebel, either by disrupting classes, challenging the teacher, vandalizing the school or not going to school altogether. There is no way that working class kids like I was or a lot of the kids that I coached and taught over the years, are going to sit in school and obediently memorize material if you don’t give them some physical outlets, some chance to move and express themselves, and some opportunity to speak out on issues important to them. When you are brought up to “take no …. from anyone” and stand up for yourself, you are not about to allow  teachers and school administrators to humiliate you, intimidate you, and silence your rebellious spirit. In neighborhoods where respect of peers is the key to survival, where the underground economy beckons, and where many people, in the words of Big Pun “would rather sell reefer than do Pizza delivery,” schools which try to discipline students, rather than engage them, will find they are in for trouble
    The vision of School Reform currently dominant in our country, where teachers and principals browbeat and harass students to  pass tests in order to protect their own jobs, is going to blow up in our face.
   And though teacher protest will be an important component of the resistance, it will be student disengagement and violence which will ultimately put this phase of Reform to rest.
Mark Naison
June 28, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

“Parents Taking the Lead Institute”

 Join The Coalition for Public Education/Coalicion por La Educacion Publica (CPE-CEP) in its Parent Leadership Summer Institute
JULY 14, 21, 28/AUGUST 4, 11, 18
• 6PM-8PM •
Because YOU have been a fearless NYC public school parent who has taken a stand against awful policies, school closings, budget cuts and racist inequities,YOU and a guest parent are cordially invited to participate in the first ever, free (and completely independent of the DoE & UFT) Leadership Institute for Activist Parents.

Sponsored by The Coalition for Public Education / Coalición por la Educación Pública,
our “Parents Taking the Lead Institute” will take place at
DC-37, Murray Street and the West Side Highway in lower Manhattan
We are only contacting 50 parents citywide. The first 25 to accept, will be guaranteed
places in the Summer Institute. 
The awesome 6-week workshop series is on: 
 • Seizing Power: Organizing Empowered Parents in YOUR school for Change
• Strategies for Democratic Governance with Parents taking the Lead
• Budgets: School Finance & Economic Justice Considerations
• Critical Educational Issues Impacting Teaching and Learning
• Understanding the Federal Issues: Race to the Top
• Working with Key Allies & Community Groups . . .
and so much more!
- Space is extremely LIMITED! You MUST RSVP by July 8th -
Call 212 362-6021 or 347 785-3418, email:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

For Shame! UFT Victory Lap at Settlement Pilloried

NOTE: Loretta Prisco is part of CPE residing on Staten Island. Her comments follow a short commentary from education activist Norm Scott.


--we sold out - not just ourselves and the communities we live in, but just as importantly, the families we serve. For shame! ---Loretta Prisco

If I were a parent of kids in the schools, I would be pissed. Parents and students supported the teachers, rallied with them, made phone calls, etc. There will be approximately 7,000 teachers less than a few years ago - and the student population has grown. Increased class size, less support for kids, many schools with closed libraries, not getting gym twice a week, and we call it a "victory"! For whom? The only way that we can get what we all need in this city is to raise revenue from those who can afford it. Wouldn't it be wonderful if teachers raised their voices in one loud unified "no" to this settlement?
Don't hold your breath as the mayor's tactics of threats and intimidation worked once again. Funny how if you say there is no money time and again - and your leaders go along - you begin to believe it. Is there a surplus? Does Tweed spend money on wasted projects like water? Should the UFT/AFT leadership take a stand on the way easy money appears when, oh, say you want a cool billion to go to bombing Libya. We know that a stand won't shake the money loose but the union is the only entity that could be out there making the case and trying to win people over to the revenue fight. Even though we started hearing "Wall St." words from the leadership, when push came to shove, the very concept of pointing out where the money is has disappeared from the lexicon.

I find it interesting that even some blogging friends have been looking at the deal between the UFT and Bloomberg through the narrow lens of the teacher. Loss of sabbaticals for a year? Many people think they were gone anyway. The ATRs as subs has created a but of concern. I agree - it is always worse than the UFT will present it at the DA on Tuesday, the last day of school, a day when people like to go out with their colleagues at school but now have to go to a meeting where they will really not have any decision making power.

We cannot separate the ATR issue from the closing school issue. The creation of ATRs was done jointly by the UFT and the DOE in the 2005 contract. That allowed them to accelerate the closing of schools. This agreement is part of the overall plan to force out ATRs after schools are closed by making the job as intolerable as possible. It opens the door to remove them from their school support network and as we know day to day subs - even experienced teachers - struggle. Suddenly subs teaching goodness knows what will be given the worst classes and written up as incompetents. Add that pressure to all the others and people will begin to flee - and the UFT leadership will do little to help and support them. Is this a way out for them without having to be charged with selling out ATRs?

But most important are these comments by retired teacher Loretta Prisco who still mentors new teachers about what this agreement does to the teaching/learning conditions. There is lots more to say - like does this mean that Christine Quinn - that Lilly livered anti- LIFO Bloomberg suckup will be the UFT choice for mayor as the UFT will argue mayoral control with her in charge would be better?
The threatened loss of 6,400 teaching jobs captured so many, kids or not, teachers or not, to this fight. We should have spoken in one, loud, unified voice ---- we had the pressure going, the Progressive Caucus of the City Council was pushing the Alternate Budget as proposed by the May 12th Coalition, we had the support of the community ---Loretta Prisco
Here is Loretta's full statement:
Looking at news reports, a teacher asked me to summarize what we really lost. After all, it didn't look like we lost much to save over 4,000 jobs. This was my response. We lost lots a golden opportunity - more than we will ever get back.

Specifically, no sabbaticals 2012-2013. You can count on this being the beginning of the end of sabbaticals. One rarely gets back what one gives up. We have NEVER gotten back anything given up. When I began in the system, at the very beginning of the union, every contract was a win-win. And every year, as our contract improved, so did teaching and learning conditions, because they are tightly woven together. Now not only do we give back when a contract is negotiated, we give back when we are not even negotiating and don't even have a contract!

Also, we must look larger at the fact that will not be filling those positions lost by attrition. Principals have been told to U rate and harass teachers, and I think purposefully. Let's look at motive. The Mayor is not concerned with maintaining good teachers. I don't think I have to convince you of that. All he and the Chancellors past and present under Mayoral Control, want are drones - young, will do as they are told, are cheap and will never collect a pension - and that they go steadily through a revolving door. Klein said years ago that he wanted to increase teaching by computers - cheaper and more controlled - with big contracts going to tech companies and those who sell programs. U ratings are designed to reduce the teaching force by pushing teachers out. We have lost over 6,000 positions in the last few years while our enrollment continues to grow. Translate that to increased class size. More on that later.

Having ATRs work as per diem subs? First of all, all the ATRs that I have met, have been doing the work of per diems by covering classes. So I am very suspicious of this. It is not saving money, so why was it negotiated as a financial issue. This has not been spelled out and I am concerned that this will be making it tougher for those who have done nothing wrong, except dedicated their teaching lives in underperforming schools.

Now let's look at what this has done to the communities we serve.

To save teaching jobs, (to keep class size down) parents joined forces with us - wrote letters, rallied, demonstrated, went up to Albany, and signed petitions. It was encouraging to hear parents say such nice things about teachers over the last few months. For too long we have been kept at each others throats. What did we do? How did we say thanks to our allies? Saved our own jobs ( no doubt important and I am not minimizing that) but we did not continue the battle to fill all positions so that class size would be maintained. We folded our tent and went away, leaving our allies out there alone. I am embarrassed by that.

But the reality was that we were never going to lose those positions, and Mulgrew knew that. The Mayor's motivation was political, not financial. He used the threats to defeat LIFO, but didn't get it. So Mulgrew and the Mayor "negotiated" a giveback. They come up winning. Our kids come up losing. We went to a party about 10 days ago and met an old friend who works for city government. He was clear - there will be no cuts and the announcement will come on Friday - and it did.

Now let's look at the really big picture - truthfully the city does have reduced funds - and it will get worse. The answer is the dilemma is to raise revenue, NOT CUT SERVICES. And Mulgrew knows that. He talks about the millionaire tax - and "we will work on it". Not good enough. We must get funds - now. For the super rich, with all of their loopholes and much of their wealth from capital gains, a millionaire's tax will undoubtedly help the city big time, and will mean that most of the wealthy will be paying under $10,000. They will not leave the city, as the Mayor keeps insisting that they will because in reality, it will cost them so little. But it is not just the millionaire's, but the banks and corporations that are profiting handsomely, no sinfully. Mulgrew doesn't even mention it.

So what will happen in our schools and communities?
  • Senior services have been reduced drastically over the last few years. Funding for elder abuse has been cut.
  • Meals provided for the homebound are down to one meal a day in 4 boroughs - try surviving on that.
  • Culturals (providing so many wonderful enrichments to our kids) have been cut ( the Noble Collection alone that provides wonderful programs has been cut 85%).
  • Our streets will be dirtier.
  • Library hours cut.
  • Literacy programs will be cut for the parents of the kids we teach.
  • Our roads and bridges will continue to be in constant disrepair.
  • Services for immigrant families curtailed.
  • It looks like other city workers - probably parents of kids we teach - will lose their jobs. We know how unemployment effects families. And continues to put a stress on the city's financial resources. Council member Recchia from Brooklyn recommended that we cut the number of agents that collect money from the parking meters (how much do you think they make?) - and not a word about those who stealing from this city with tax loopholes, no-bid contracts, etc.
  • AIDS funding and other city services will be compromised.
The list goes on and on. Enumerating the list is to depressing for Sunday morning. The threatened loss of 6,400 teaching jobs captured so many, kids or not, teachers or not, to this fight. We should have spoken in one, loud, unified voice. Just to say, we had the pressure going, the Progressive Caucus of the City Council was pushing the Alter Budget as proposed by the May 12th Coalition, we had the support of the community, and we sold out - not just ourselves and the communities we live in, but just as importantly, the families we serve. For shame!

Loretta Prisco

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Parents, Educators and Education Activists Stand Strong with the NAACP/UFT/Parent Union Lawsuit Against Charter School Bumrushing "Co-Location" Hustle

On Monday 13 June 2011, the NYC Parent Union sponsored a Press Conference on the steps of the Dept of Miseducation's steps to tell all about the growing support for their lawsuit and the NAACP/UFT lawsuit against BloomCott's separate and unequal co-location moves to bolster their charter school onslaught.

Here is video coverage the press conference:





Parents Group Files Related NAACP CoLocation Lawsuit
by Micah Landau | published June 23, 2011

A new organization of public school parents, the New York City Parents Union, announced on June 13 outside DOE headquarters that it will file a lawsuit challenging the DOE’s co-location policies.

Dozens of parents, teachers and students held a press conference on June 13 outside the Department of Education’s headquarters to announce that a new organization of public school parents, the New York City Parents Union, will file a lawsuit against the city related to the suit already filed jointly by the UFT, the NAACP and other plaintiffs to stop the city from closing 21 schools and co-locating or expanding charter schools in another 18.

It is one of three lawsuits filed by parents challenging the DOE’s co-location policies.

Going a step further than the existing lawsuit, the Parents Union’s suit challenges inequalities between more than 75 already co-located district and charter schools, the DOE’s refusal to count dedicated special education rooms as “classrooms” for the purpose of determining available space in school buildings and the fact that charter schools do not pay rent to use public school buildings.

Mona Davids, a key player in both the Parents Union and the New York Charter Parents Association, thanked the NAACP and the UFT for “standing up and fighting for equal access to a quality education for all our children,” and condemned the recent attacks on the NAACP from charter school supporters.

Muba Yarofulani, a co-president of the Campaign for Public Education and vice president of the Parents Union, said the co-location of charter schools, which often have access to much greater resources than the district schools with which they share space, sends a message to the children in the district schools that some are better than others.

“The chancellor and Mayor Bloomberg must understand that all our children must be treated equally,” she said.