Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Prepare for a busy month!

January: hearings-rallies-conferences-meetings Forum location

5-Jan 6pm school for community research and learning hs 1980 lafayette ave, bronx

5-Jan 6pm academy of environmental science and Renaissance Charter 410 East 100 street, manhattan

5-Jan 4:30 PM GEM= joint planning meeting Rally 21st Cuny grad center

6-Jan 6pm Frederick Douglas Academy III (6 -8) 3630 3rd ave, bronx

6-Jan 6pm beach channel HS at Beach Channel HS

7-Jan 8pm Columbus HS 925 Astor Ave, Bronx

7-Jan 5pm global enterprise hs 925 Astor Ave, Bronx

7-Jan 6pm Paul Robeson hs 150 Albany Ave, Bklyn

7-Jan 6pm jamaica high school 16701 Gothic Drive, Queens

8-Jan 6pm choir academy of harlem hs 2005 madison ave, manhattan

11-Jan 4:00 GEM/CAPE Joint Planning Meeting- 359 40th St.

11-Jan 6pm Kappa II (6-8) 144-176 East 128 st, manh

11-Jan 6pm alfred e smith HS 333 East 151st, Bronx

12-Jan 3:30 CAPE Community Meeting- Red Hook Public Library

12-Jan 6pm business, computer applications and enetrepe hs 207-01 116 ave, Queens

13-Jan 6pm academy of collaborative education (6-8) 222 west 134 st, manhattan

13-Jan 6pm ps 332 (k-8) 51 christopher ave, bklyn

13-Jan 6pm School for academic and social excellence (6-8) 1224 park place, Brooklyn

13-Jan 5-7pm Forum: The challenge of Charter Schools: by NYCORE Cuny GRAD Center

14-Jan 6pm New Day Academy Hs 800 Home St, Bronx

14-Jan 6pm metropolitan corporate academy 362 schermerhorn st, bklyn

16-Jan 10am Citywide parent conference: Leonie Haimson (Norm Siegel -guest spk) School of future- 127 E 22nd st, Manh

19-Jan 6pm Pave Charter invasion of PS 15 71 sullivan st, Bklyn

19-Jan 6pm monroe academy of business law HS 1300 boynton ave, bronx

21-Jan 4 -6:30 pm Rally on Bloomberg’s Block East 79st (bet 5th ave &Madison), Manh

26-Jan 6pm PEP meeting Brooklyn Tech High School

28-Jan 4:30-7 GEM/CAPE Charter School Forum/Discussion Polytechnic Institute - Downtown

Friday, December 18, 2009


Please contact the following people.  Tell them to hold the DOE and Spencer Robertson to their promise- vacate PS 15 in 2010.  Tell them PS 15 is already at capacity and they should come and see for themselves.  Tell them they need to protect and preserve our AAA community public school.  Tell them to vote NO on the PAVE extension.

The Brooklyn BP rep’s email is  ; you should copy to Margaret Kelley at  and Carlo Scissura at

DOE Proposal Contact (we can't give you a phone number because, even after SEVERAL phone calls, they still have a Bronx number listed):
All the PEP members (who should be flooded w/ emails) are ;  ;; ; ;  ; ; ; ; ; ;

e-mail Joel Klein and Bloomberg EVERY DAY:

Mike Bloomberg through:;

Will the Real Spencer Robertson Please Stand Up

Today a group of parents picketed PAVE. They used their voices to demand accountability and honesty from the DOE and PAVE's founder Spencer Robertson. Teachers stood by on the sidelines, as not to participate in political action on the school block, but wanted to support the parents who braved below 20 degree weather to exercise their civil rights. Spencer Robertson chose to exercise his mouth and showed who he really is.

We should start by noting that Mr. Robertson's cracks began to show earlier this week when he told the school's building council that PAVE had all the money they needed to build their own building and that they would sign a contract for their space in 45 days (interestingly right in line w/ the timing of the PEP vote- maybe we can expect another grand announcement like the one we experienced this fall at the CEC meeting when they fake announced their space plans for the umpteenth time). What is even more interesting is one of PAVE's board of directors announced yesterday, they need an additional six million dollars to build (in addition to the 26 million in taxpayer dollars they have already been awarded by the DOE and the six million they have already fundraised). The board member also noted they already own a property in Red Hook on Henry and Mill Street. So, now we know for sure the real Spencer Robertson in a liar.

It is important to note that all of this discussion about a space or no space, building or no building, money or no money is irrelevant considering the agreement was made to the community for a two year co-location, which expires this June. Instead of acknowledging the fact that they, Spencer and his board, have misled the community and had no intentions of leaving in two years, they act like they are doing PS 15 a favor in assuring everyone they have every intention of leaving... some day, but they can't say when and the details of where and how change daily. Robertson ignores the negative impact his school and his actions have had on the educational programs at PS 15 and further the division it has created in the community. So, we know the real Spencer Robertson believes he is not accountable to the people of Red Hook or the children of Red Hook. We know his only interest is his charter empire.

This morning, as parents picketed outside, Spencer called the police and PAVE parents wrote on blogs demonizing PS 15 parents for standing up for what is best for their children, both denigrated PS 15 parents and teachers calling their actions political and tried to shame them for supposedly involving and scaring children (it is important to note this picket was purposefully set to begin after PAVE students arrived at school so no children would be forced to walk through the picket). What was happening inside? PAVE students were led in chanting, in PS 15's auditorium while our children arrived and our teachers and families set up our holiday fair in the gym next door, ...we are a charter, a mighty, mighty charter, this is our school, you can't move us... So now we know Spencer is not only Orwellian, but he, unlike the teachers and parents at PS 15, actually does indoctrinate his students with propaganda.

During the parent picket, Spencer stood next to the only two white men on the line and presented his case, women and tan people need not be spoken to. He thought he was reaching his good 'ole boy network, instead he got an earful. Apparently this shook him so much, his only recourse was to attack the dedicated teachers, who said and did nothing, who merely stood in silence, separate from the picket, to support parents who were standing in freezing weather, to highlight their true commitment and dedication to this community they proudly serve. As the teachers filed in the building to pick up their students, Spencer turned to them and said, "So this is what it takes for you to get to school on time." Oh no he didn't! Now we know that the real Spencer is a desperate man, a cynical man, and too low for words.

The teachers at PS 15 are one of the most dedicated and hardworking groups of educators in the city. Despite tremendous obstacles, and by every measure, they succeed with their students. You value test scores, take a look. Some of the highest reading and math scores in the city. You want programs; take a look, many teachers volunteer their preps, lunches, and Saturdays organizing and running programs for students, parents and the community. While Spencer Robertson pockets 26 million dollars from the DOE, teachers at PS 15 scrounge for paper and write grants at nights and on weekends to make up for the more than 10% cuts the DOE has placed on our budget in the last year. This man has the nerve to defile our teachers in this way?! We should note this isn't the first time he has done this; in an email earlier this year he called our teachers lazy. Late and Lazy. Hmmm. How many of his teachers work with parents in the community? How many of his teachers volunteer their time? How many of his teachers have been serving Red Hook for ten years or more? How many of his teachers buy their own supplies? How many of his teachers procure their own funding for the school? Do we see his teachers or for that matter him on Saturdays or Sundays or in the evenings in Red Hook? It is the typical neo-liberal/neo-con strategy: say it is so and so it is. You have to wonder if these people believe their own lies, or if they are so cynical the lies easily slide off the tongue without a second thought.

Spencer Robertson has painted himself as the son of a philanthropist who cares so much about children and inequality he gave up a privileged life to help minority children have access to a better education. The real Spencer Robertson needs to stand up. The truth is, Spencer Robertson is the son of a billionaire who is used to getting what he wants and will protect his own interests and will propagate his own agenda at the cost of anyone or anything that gets in his way. His strategy, along with BloomKlein and the entire charter/privatization movement, is to divide communities, demean and demonize teachers, disenfranchise parents, and dismantle existing successful public schools, particularly in minority communities that have a history of limited organization and mobilization.

Spencer and his cronies picked the wrong school and the wrong community to manipulate and mislead. Regardless of what happens over the next month, as long as this man is in PS 15, and most likely as long as he drives into and out of Red Hook each workday, he will face an outspoken group of people who know who he really is. We will be his mirror, maybe he can hide from himself, maybe he can even hide from the PAVE families who entrust their children to him, but all darkness comes to the light. Eventually the cracks will accumulate to a fracture and the facade will come crumbling down; the real Spencer Robertson will be left standing, most likely alone, on display for all to see. Hopefully the parents and teachers of PS 15 will still be around to pick up the pieces.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

In the news...

Daily News article regarding PS 15's struggle... read and comment:

We must hold the DOE, PAVE Academy, and Spencer Robertson accountable to the citizens of Red Hook!  They must keep their promise and vacate PS 15 in June 2010.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another School, Another Case of Obstruction, Dishonesty, and Coruption

Please read about and support our brothers and sisters at Maxwell High School.  Contact information to support their cause can be found in this article link:

Their issue is slated for the January 26th PEP along with PS 15's fight to stop the PAVE extension.

Gotham Article regarding the PEP meeting move...

Read and leave comments:


Thank you to everyone who sent letters and made phone calls to the DOE regarding the legally suspect PEP meeting that was to be held in Staten Island on January 26th... the DOE heard your voices and the meeting has been moved to Brooklyn, at Brooklyn Tech.

Now that we have a hearing in a location that is fair, let's make sure the substance behind our voices regarding PAVE's extenstion in PS 15 and the tremendous amount of school closings are actually heard.

Write the Chancellor, write and call your EIS proposal contact (for PS 15:, contact your borough reps and all of the members of the PEP.  Tell them they work for you, and you want your tax dollars to go to the protection and preservation of public schools to ensure equitable and quality education for ALL children.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Excellent Article

Ravitch hits the nail on the head as she discusses last week's New York Times article (in the Style section of all things) on the new 'fashion' trend of the wealthy propogating, funding, and organizing charter schools... a must read!

What is "Capacity"?

Much of the school space wars argument boils down to an argument about the definition of capacity. The DOE uses two methods to allocate space in buildings. First, the target utilization, which is calculated by the capacity of the building (this includes all floor plan space except what is determined to be shared space), divided into the current enrollment in the building. This provides a utilization percentage. Now of course this percentage is faulty because you can't provide instruction and programs in nooks and crannies, not to mention it does not take into account the fact that special education classes can only have 12 students in them so therefore those rooms could never be 'at capacity'. Herein lies the need for the DOE's instructional footprint.

The DOE Instructional Footprint allots classroom space to schools in their buildings based on varied formulas linked to city-wide average test scores, enrollment, title one or not title one (but they never specify the difference), as well as other notes (as they refer to them). What is very interesting is, the Educational Impact Statement released on December 11th and revised on December 14th regarding the extension of PAVE Academy in PS 15 beyond the two year agreement, only uses the utilization formula for its judgment. There is a section that mentions the instructional footprint, but does not discuss how it is applied and clearly, it is not.

When one spends over ten hours breaking down the instructional footprint, they would first see that this is a document designed to disenfranchise people who seek to figure it out and secondly, related to the PAVE/PS 15 issue, one would see that there is already not enough space for both schools according to the DOE's own policies, yet the EIS says there is plenty of room and there will be no negative impact. Tell that to the child receiving OT in the corner of a library under renovation while other groups are working in that same space. Tell that to the child receiving counseling who sees their family worker in a closet.

In addition to the many flaws in the determination and allocation of space, there are many spaces not allocated for in the instructional footprint such as: speech therapy, teacher/uft room, ELL room, occupational therapy, physical therapy, DOE nurse, Health Partner and Dental Partner (Lutheran Medical provides PS 15 with a nurse practitioner and dental program), adaptive physical education, testing coordinator, and math and reading coaches (and there are surely other omissions). In addition they list the library and School Based Support Team spaces as "shared space" when the libraries were created and resourced by existing schools and the SBST does not, and cannot legally, serve charter schools. It is an outrage that such phony and faulty policies are allowed to exist at the expense of our children.

The target utilization formula and the instructional footprint are a joke. They are made up documents, altered at will, and used to serve an agenda that seeks to provide billionaires and their sons free space on the public's dime. They are documents made up to propagate a small school and charter school agenda that sorts our children and privileges some, while subordinating others. They are documents that allow the DOE and their corporate friends to rob Peter to pay Paul.

New York City needs to rise up and demand true transparency, accountability, and policies that serve ALL children, not just those who choose charters or win a lottery, not just those whose founder has a daddy that gave Bloomberg over 10 mil for his school initiatives.

One of our stakeholders said today, "This thing is like peeling a rotten onion!" Indeed it is. Just when you think it couldn't get any stinkier... it does!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Welcome to the Hornet's Nest

From our friend Norm over @

"I want to thank Tweed for doing such dumb stuff that led to this group coming together and joining up with other advocates forming around the city. They have uncovered some hornet's nest. As part of a group of organizers so often frustrated by the lack of fight all too many teachers exhibit, I genuflect to Tweed for helping to create CAPE. Keep up the good work. One day you will find thousands of people pounding at your door."

The DOE and its corporate allies isolate and identify communities they think they can overrun and outsmart.  They target communities whose populations have historically had a difficult time organizing and accessing resources.  We are sure they thought targeting PS 15 in Red Hook was easy pinkins'... instead they did in fact unleash a hornet's nest.  We are a group of parents and educators who will continue to demand to be heard, not just for the protection and preseravtion of our community public schools, but in solidarity to fight for the protection and preservation of public education for ALL of our children.

Groups are forming across the city, advocates are joining forces:  the counter movement has begun.  Please join CAPE, ednotesonline, GEM, the Maxwell school movement, CPE, and so many other dedicated parents and educators and demand transparency, truth, and accountability.  Let's join together and stop the Bloomberg Administration's assult on public education.

The DOE Does it Again

It is unclear what is more disturbing: The Department of Education’s surreptitious school space utilization and formulas, their incompetence in interpreting these very formulas, their damning disregard for what is best for children not to mention parent and community voices, their corrupted charter school movement, their deliberate defiling of public education and community public schools, or their lubricated lies that slide off their tongues dripping and oozing with Orwellian language that loudly proclaims, “we have an agenda, and we fully intend to execute it.” The DOE has done it again; they prove with Friday’s announcement to continue to house a charter school, PAVE Academy, beyond the two year agreement promised to the Red Hook, Brooklyn Community and its AAA school, PS 15, that their interest lies with not the children and the citizens of this city, but with the corporations, hedge fund managers, billionaires and sons of billionaires, who propagate, organize, and oversee the charter school movement plaguing our public school system.

The Educational Impact Statement released Friday,
( ) announces the Department of Education’s intention to extend PAVE’s stay in Public School 15, beyond the 2 year agreement set to end in 2010, until at least 2015 while expanding through grade seven. The statement has formula and mathematical errors and was created without an onsite visit to truly evaluate the impact and without a public hearing or any input from the stakeholders affected by this decision. Beyond the formulaic errors, the statement claims there will be no negative impact on PS 15. This of course is outrageous; considering PS 15 has no unused or underutilized rooms and its current usage is within the parameters of the DOE’s instructional footprint, ( ).

Friday’s announcement sets a new precedent and elevates the intensity of existing policies that privilege the charter school movement. The Department of Education with this impact statement, with the way they tried to usurp the mayoral control laws in the granting of the PAVE extension in the first place, with their continued manipulation of faulty school space sharing formulas and dishonest decision making, takes an aggressive step forward in promoting and supporting charter schools and signals Mayor Bloomberg’s willingness to spend his political capital on undermining and attacking public school families and their educational opportunities.

The battle lines have been drawn. New York City now finds itself on the frontlines of opposing movements. On one side, there are those fighting for the protection and preservation of public schools. On the other side, those who seek to separate and sort our children with a philosophy that privileges some, while subordinating others, and the intention to privatize education, to outsource public money to private interests, to dismantle public schools and replace them with charters. This is clearly a fight the DOE wants to have: raise your swords.

The DOE has done it again; they have used made up formulas to enact their agenda, they have chosen business, money and power over children, they have spit on the voices and in the faces of parents and stakeholders, they have decided to destroy public education. It is time to rise up New York City, our children deserve our protection; our community schools must be preserved.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Blogs are Buzzing about this week's NYT article!

This was our favorite blogger post:
Charter Schools: Making Money on Real Estate Speculation by Jennifer Medina

December 2, 2009 — Lew Rosenbaum

[Daniel Wolff's article in Counterpunch followed the $ in Charter Schools into the fairyland of real estate speculation. Here is a New York Times article which gives NY details that many of us in Chicago are familiar with. Incidentally, PAVE Academy, mentioned in this story, is founded by Spencer Robertson, son of Julian Robertson, who gave more than $10 million to NY Mayor Bloomberg's education projects. Perhaps the donations rather than his 3 years of teaching experience are the qualifications for obtaining free space in NY public schools. We can't leave this subject without directing readers of this blog to Chicago's Substance News, which you can find by clicking on the link on the sidebar to your right.]

There are so many more from NYC, to Chicago, to Kentucky, to California... Voices do matter and advocacy does work and all of the money in the world can't change that!

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!