Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Recent News

Below is a Daily News story about the PS 15/PAVE Academy space struggle. One little tidbit, among so many, we wish was in the article: PS 15 gave up a room, already shared by two full-time occupational therapists, which PAVE made into a materials room/cafeteria for staff and teachers.  PS 15's OT services are now provided in the library, which is under renovation and already used for several other displaced enrichment programs, and the other OT uses Good Shepherd program's computer room. No one seems to understand there are consequences to space sharing, and those consequences hurt our children.

There was a recent article in the Daily News and the Post touting the success of charter schools based on a study authored by an economics professor from Stanford. When did economics professors, from Harvard to Stanford, become so active in education policy? The answer, when the Nation at Risk report was written under Regan. This report, and the commission who wrote it, was first ignored by Regan, but later embraced when he realized its political value. This report not only reinforced many of the fear-based myths that drive education policy today, but it also, "paved the way for business people to become legitimate speakers on and advocates for education concerns...because it made education an economic issue." (Zhao, 2009). Over the last two decades, federal and state education summits have centered around businesses and economics advisers and educators and parents have been shut out (one of the first summits, called for by George Bush #1 and led by Bill Clinton) was in 1989- not a single teacher was invited.  Another in 1996, led by Tommy Thompson was actually held at IBM's conference center and included 44 executives of major businesses). *for more on this read, "Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization" by, Yong Zhao.

The article below, by Diane Ravitch, addresses the flaws in the economic professor's article and we wish made the point, as the creator of The Wire has: capitalism is not a social philosophy, it is an economic philosophy. We cannot allow the capitalist ideology to pervade and pervert our social policies, such as education, because these policies are the pillar of our democracy and must be protected to ensure we prepare a democratic citizenry.

Finally, below is an article about our friend Mona Davids. This Bronx parent advocate has way deeper ties to the Bloomberg Administration and the business world than her role as President of Charter School Parents Association, or she, reveals. We love how this article states that she just decided to start this group up, and mentions nothing about the money and support behind her, let alone her business dealings. It reminds us of the new trend in politics; astroturf movements as opposed to true grassroots movements. Here is a woman, who came from the Bronx into Red Hook to scream at a crowd of concerned educators and parents and tried to divide them with racial undertones and vicious attacks on teachers. This same woman runs a company that is the only bridge to new development in South Africa and NYC, which the Bloomberg Administration is seeking investment with. Let us be clear, the goals of business investment and commerce between the United States, specifically NYC, and African nations is a good one; what is questionable is the ties and connections and the 'back-scratching' nature of it all; not to mention the fact that Mona presents herself as a neighborhood parent advocate, which apparently according to her, white people and teachers can't be, when really she is a very savvy, very organized, very funded, and very connected business woman. This is certainly does not negate her role as an active parent, we just ask for truth and transparency. When one hides or misrepresents who they are or what their interests are, it makes you wonder...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

War Stories

*This post got buried in our comments and we wanted to make sure it got attention!  Parents and Educators must start sharing their war stories, through this we believe we can clearly and concisely make the case and expose the true impact of shared space and the charter school agenda.  Most people are not aware of what is really going on out there, it is our moral imperative to share our experiences so that we have a fully informed citizenry when it comes to education policy and reform.   

"As a teacher in a school that is now occupied by 3-high school level charter schools, I suggest you watch the attached video I made about my library renovation.

After continuously being denied funds by Councilmember David Yassky & BBP Mary Markowitz, I was able to renovate my library with no $ whatsoever.
I came back to work just two weeks ago and was told that the library that I made into a beautiful castle is now the "Charter Schools." Our middle school kids won't be able to come and go from the library, as I'm able to keep my office, but that's it. It's been suggested that I push a cart around w/books and teach library lessons in individual classes.
Judge for yourself and decide who is being hurt the most?"

"What's being done to our poor kids is criminal!"

A Must Read

Found this on ednotesonline and had to link it here too. A must read for every citizen... nothing is more important than our educational system! Big reforms are on the way, we must all be informed.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Protect and Preserve Public Education

Watch CAPE's presentation at the District 15 Community Education Council meeting. Thanks to our presenter, who represented us beautifully, and to Norm for your hard work and dedication to this issue.

Real education reform requires equity, accountability, transparency and due process. Write to City Hall and demand educational policies that work for and listen to ALL students, families, and communities.

Monday, September 21, 2009

For your information...

We had to share this video from our friends over at GEM of Mona Davids, president of charter school parents association, and from the Bronx (even though she came to apparently criticize teachers for speaking when they do not live in Red Hook), whose given charge is to go into other people's communities and try to divide parents and teachers... won't work here. Just about everything she said was erroneous or divisive. We can yell too... the difference is we have facts on our side and we are a untied front. Why would anyone try to silence teacher voices, who would know better the negative impact on OUR children (that's right our children- parents' children, teachers' children) during the school day than them? Wouldn't it be disturbing if teachers weren't united with parents and speaking up? If you want a blow by blow account, see the Gotham Schools comments below in the article about our struggle:

Click on our GEM and EdNotes links for more information and video... Thanks and a big shout out to NORM!!!!

Shhh... the sound of democracy is disturbing us!

"We want things to quiet down"... that is the message of PAVE charter school administration as they find themselves in a fire storm of disapproval and criticism from not only parents and educators, but from policy makers across the city... we bet they do. Not going to happen.

Parents and teachers are more united than ever to fight to protect not only PS 15 from the "charter invasion" and their vicious attacks on public schools and public school teachers, but we also stand together and are working to unite with other schools, parents, and educators across the city, in telling the DOE, "Enough is enough! Protect and preserve our schools and public education."

We have been hearing from divided communities across the city expressing the same exasperation and anger at the blatant disregard for their students and programming in order to privilege charter schools obtaining free space in our community school buildings. The public must demand an end to space sharing, or at least a fair and realistic formula. The public must demand an end to charter school leaders having the privileged ear of this Mayor and Chancellor. The public must demand accountability, transparency, and due process.

Policies created and enforced by elected public officials should serve and represent the people. We have the right to demand that they are changed when they are flawed. We will not be quiet. We will not relent.

Write the Mayor. Write the Chancellor. Write and call your local CEC. Write the members of PEP (Panel on Education Policy). Tell them they work for us, not their private, corporate interests. Tell them we want our schools and communities back. If they will not hear us... take it to the voting both in November! Mayoral control does not and should not equate with an authoritative dictatorship. The sounds of democracy took to the streets of Red Hook Thursday night, our voices will continue... Holler if you hear us!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Tonight should be considered a triumph for democracy, for stakeholder voices, and an example of what advocacy is all about. A few main points, that may have been lost in the shuffle, intentionally or not, need to be clarified and addressed:

· No one from PS 15 stated that the all of the children and families of PAVE are not from or part of the Red Hook Community. What was stated was that bus loads of children are brought into PAVE, and therefore the PS 15 building, that are in fact not from the Red Hook Community. This must be considered and discussed because PS 15 students’, Red Hook Community students’, resources are being taken away and their programming is being significantly impacted. This is a question of fairness. Fairness in policy and procedure as to determining and managing shared space.

· No one from PS 15 stated that PAVE teachers are unqualified. What we questioned, is why the Department of Education is seemingly privileging charter schools over public schools when their teachers are not held to the same standards as public school teachers, and are in fact less experienced and far fewer of them hold Master’s Degrees. This does not mean that any one teacher is better or worse, it simply speaks to the question, “Why do policies and rhetoric subordinate those that are tested, successful, and committed?” The staff at PS 15, and at public schools across the city, work diligently to provide excellence in education to their students and there is no questioning their qualifications and experience, yet somehow current policy and rhetoric seems to minimize and disregard them. No one questions the commitment, education, and purpose of PAVE teachers; and from the teachers who were there along side of our students’ parents tonight as you stood with yours, we respect your service and commitment to children and education as much as we respect ours. We do not privilege one over the other; we simply want to be treated and considered equally when it comes to the perspectives and policies of the Department of Education.

· To the woman who so passionately spoke about how only 1 PAVE staff member spoke, and basically attacked PS 15 teachers and questioned their place in the Red Hook Community: First of all, at the PEP meeting on Monday, you stated you were from Co-Op city, so how dare you question the geography of our dedicated teachers? For the record, many of our teachers and staff members are from the Red Hook community; again, how dare you and where are you from? Secondly, Robertson spoke, Cooper spoke, and the Parent Coordinator spoke; by my count that is three PAVE staff members who spoke, not one. Finally, it seems your strategy, and one shared by many members of the PAVE community, and the charter school movement in general, is to attack public school teachers. Our parents and teachers stand united and are committed to each other and our shared interest, their children, our students. Let’s put this in perspective: the woman, a teacher from PS 15 who spoke, the one with the baby strapped to her body that several PAVE members were screaming at while she spoke, has been a teacher for over ten years. She has served and has been active in the Red Hook community for nine years. She comes in early. She stays late. She goes above and beyond for her students who, along with their parents, adore her. She arrived at school this morning at 7:15, left at 4:00 and returned at 5:30, even though her and her baby are suffering from a cold. She sat in the auditorium for well over two hours and was just dropped off at her home at 9:30, without even having eaten dinner yet. If anyone doubts not only her commitment, along with all of the teachers who were there tonight, but also her moral imperative to give a voice to the children she serves everyday and express the impact PAVE has had on them, then frankly your sincerity should be questioned. Our teachers care about their students immensely, and for you to stand there and question their motives, words, intentions, character, and success; to try to somehow tarnish or question their right and their privilege to speak about the impact PAVE is having on the students they are entrusted with everyday, it is beyond cynical. One should be concerned if our teachers weren’t there speaking out, if they weren’t standing with parents. We work together, we share a prized interest, and your efforts to minimize parts of us or to divide us will not work.

· We want to take special note of Mr. Robertson’s attempt at 48 Laws of Power #37, “Create Compelling Spectacles”. Good try. We loved how you tried to make your grand entrance and have Rana Khan, Director of Operations, turn over her mic and slot on the agenda to you. Those crazy little things called rules! They always get in the way. But, I guess that was a win-win for you, because if they didn’t let you speak and break the rules, then you could publicize it and claim that you were not heard. Never mind the fact that you could have contacted them to speak yourself as PS 15 parents and teachers did. Of course that was only half of your spectacle… it was so obvious to all of us that you would go forth with announcing tonight that you have ‘found your own space’; wow…that is really convenient. Again: Where is it? How long? Are you building from scratch? What took you so long and why should we suffer for it? Uh. Ummm. Uhhh. Umm.

· To the DOE, we demand answers: How is the extension evaluated? Who will be heard and when? What will be considered? What part do the stakeholders have in all of this? Will you reevaluate your formula for shared space based on the information that was provided concerning the reality and injustices of the shared space formula; what it includes and what it doesn’t?

Thank you to District 15 Community Education Council for trying to open a dialogue and engage those impacted by educational policies. If we have two asks tonight they are:
1. Hold Pave Academy and the Department of Education to the agreement they made with our community, the promise they made to our students; two years temporary housing in PS 15- that means out by June 2010.
2. Work and seek to reevaluate the formula for shared space so that Community Public Schools, like PS 15, are not negatively impacted by the shared space policy. It may be too late to curb the impact at our school, but if we can prevent this from happening to other school communities, it is our moral imperative to do so.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

We get the government and education system we deserve!

Join CAPE in fighting to protect and preserve public education!
Hold PAVE Academy and the DOE to their word: a two year temporary site within PS 15. That means vacate by June 2010.

We demand transparency, we demand accountability, we demand due process.

Thursday, September, 17, 2009
District 15 Community Education Council Meeting
PS 15, The Patrick F. Daly School
71 Sullivan St.
Brooklyn, NY
7:00 PM

What does it mean to be ethical?

Many of us who are a part of CAPE feel that charter schools are a key piece in the road to privatization. Many of us do not agree with the ideology behind the movement, but we do not want a personal belief to stand between what is a larger and more important issue. Whether you are pro or anti charter, or neutral for that matter, the ideas of transparency, accountability, due process, and the preservation of our democracy should be important to you. We stand together not to fight against anything, but rather to fight for the protection and preservation of public education. We stand together to defend our schools and our children from what we believe is an assault on pubic education, the pillar of our democracy. What we see is a premeditated war on free, fair and truely public education taking place, often strategically, across the city, and the battle lines are being drawn in our community school buildings. We wonder: if the charter movement and sharing building space is really about what is best for kids, do the policies match the rhetoric?

At issue here is ethics: "What does it mean to be ethical?"

Is going back on one's word ethical?
Is taking something that belongs to someone else ethical?
Is it ethical to go after what one wants at the expense of others, knowing it will negatively impact others?
Is it ethical lie and misrepresent the truth for personal gain?
Is it ethical to deny others in favor of self-interest?
Is it ethical to attack hard working successful educators to benefit a personal agenda?
Is it ethical to discharge students at will from an institution of education?
Is it ethical to call something public when it is convenient and private when it is convenient?
Is it ethical to recruit families and then place their children in programs they are not mandated for, that do not meet their needs, but helps meet enrollment numbers?
Is it ethical to follow a building shared space formula that does not take into account the mandated needs of students and the enrichment and intervention programs that make them successful?
Is it ethical to claim broad success, when there is not transparency or accountability to actually prove it?
Is it ethical to divide communities and set up a system that promotes and encourages children and families to feel one school is better than the other, based not on actual data, but rather on material things and targeted use of emotionally tied words like "scholars"?
Is it ethical to encourage a system that sorts children into "winners" and "losers" based on things such as lotteries, IEPs, ELL, behavior, and parent involvement?

The question of ethics is an important one. It is time we all demand some answers.

Monday, September 14, 2009

PAVEing the way to Privatization...

In the spring of 2008, the Red Hook community was informed that a charter school would be placed in their longstanding successful school, P.S. 15, The Patrick F. Daly School. After the decision was announced, there was community outrage and then, only then, was a community meeting held for members to share their views. In line with the leadership and vision of both Bloomberg and Klein, the decision to place a charter in P.S. 15 was finalized, regardless of the community’s outrage, a decision seemingly already made. The agreement was that this charter school, PAVE Academy, would be temporarily housed in P.S. 15 for two years. This agreement, by the Department of Education and PAVE’s founder, Spencer Robertson, was stated repeatedly to parents, community members, teachers, the building’s administration and to the union.
In the spring of 2009, only a year into their stay, PAVE announced to the Daily News that they requested an extension to stay in P.S. 15 for up to an additional three years. Again, parents, teachers and community members expressed their outrage and questioned the transparency, due process, and accountability of the Department of Education. According to the DOE, no decisions had yet been made concerning the extension request, but it took pressure by parents and teachers throughout the summer demanding due process to get a fair hearing.
Communities across the city share in the plight of the P.S. 15, Red Hook Community. We have seen community schools across the city forced to building share with charters, have their resources drained, their space limited and their programs negatively impacted. Now beginning to emerge, we are seeing charters put in extensions to stay and further expand into buildings after already announcing an end date for their temporary stay as part of the presentation to, and agreement with, the school communities. Interestingly, the extensions seem to aim to afford these charters free space until the end of their five year state evaluations, even though five years of space was not what was originally requested.
The lack of transparency and due process is an outrage to our democracy and defiles the success and importance of our community public schools. There is no accountability, no one to hold the Mayor’s administration to any kind of agreement or standard because they have a clear agenda and they intend to execute it: close down half of the number of public schools and double the number of charter schools by the end of their third term. What is even more disturbing; they are propagating this agenda on the backs of successful public schools that have served their communities for years. P.S. 15, The Patrick F. Daly School, whose namesake lost his life serving the children of Red Hook seventeen years ago, is an AAA school being unfairly and forcefully pushed out by a charter school that has no success record, is staffed with uncertified and inexperienced educators, and whose students are largely bused in from outside of the school community. Last year, out of P.S. 15’s Prekindergarten graduating class, only two families chose to send their two children to PAVE. The housing of PAVE Academy in P.S. 15 is not serving the best interest of the children in Red Hook zoned for PS 15, and it has no place in Red Hook’s community public school.
The Bloomberg Administration paints the charter school movement as a way to service children whom public schools have failed while promoting and developing innovative programming. This is cynical and disingenuous. The charter school movement drains school community resources, sets up a system of privilege and subordination, divides communities, and disenfranchises citizens from a truly democratic system that was intended to listen to them and represent them, not impose an authoritative agenda on them. If this charter school movement was really about what was best for children, we would not see building sharing formulas that treat children as numbers and deny them the space to run enrichment and intervention programming. We would not see campus policies that sanction public school principals for not coming to agreements on space usage, while doing nothing to hold charter school leaders accountable to the same standard. We would not see due process skirted and phony meetings held. We would not see successful schools being squeezed out by charters, especially when those charters are not primarily servicing the students from that school and community.
Please join the Red Hook community, its families and teachers, as we fight to protect P.S. 15, The Patrick F. Daly School, and community schools across the city. Public education is the pillar of our democracy; it must be protected and preserved. We should be supporting and using our successful public schools as models, not overextending them and negatively impacting their programming. We should fix our public schools that are not working, not propagate a privatization agenda.

June 4th City-Wide School-Community Based Protests: No School-Based Budget Cuts or School Layoffs

June 4th City-Wide School-Community Based Protests:  No School-Based Budget Cuts or School Layoffs
Parents, Students, and School Workers at PS 15 Demand Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein Prioritize Spending for Public Education!

Public Education in NYC has faced over 500 million in cuts since 2009. The Mayor must seek other revenues instead of cutting our schools and other important services that are the lifeblood of our communities!