Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rally On! Blizzard Nor Snow Day Will Stop Parents, Students, Educators, and Community Members From Expressing Their Outrage Over School Closings and Charter Takeovers.

When and Where:  Today, Thursday, January 27th 4:30 P.M.-6:30 P.M. at Brooklyn Bridge Park, on Centre Street, to the east of the Tweed Courthouse building.

What:  On Thursday, January 27th, parents, students, and teachers across the city will join together at a city-wide rally to protest Mayor Bloomberg’s destructive education policies.  The event will feature an abridged performance of "Declassified: The Struggle for Existence [We Used to Eat Lunch Together]", a reinterpretation of Antigone and a candid and scathing critique of school reforms written by students from Jamaica High School and Queens Collegiate.  Parents, students, and educators from schools facing closing and charter takeovers, as well as those who sponsored the event will speak.

Snow Closings, Yes!  School Closings, No!

Who:  Sponsored by: The Ad Hoc Committee to Stop School Closings and Charter Takeovers, Grassroots Education Movement NYC (GEM), New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE),Coalition for Public Education/Coalición por la Educación Pública (CPE-CEP), The Manhattan Local of the Green Party of NY State, Class Size Matters, United Federation of Teachers (UFT)
Endorsing Organizations: Teachers for a Just Contract (TJC), Concerned Advocates for Public Education (CAPE), Independent Community of Educators (ICE), Center For Immigrant Families (CIF), The Puerto Rico Solidarity Network - PRSN NY, People Power Movement,  Renaissance School of the Arts-M377(UFT Chapter), City-Wide Coalition for Education Excellence Now, Black Women Against Urban Youth Violence, Teachers Unite (TU),  South Bronx Community Council, NY with UPR (NY with University of Puerto Rico), Dee Knight, The Independent Workers Movement/Movimiento Independiente de Trabajadores,, District Leader Chris Owens (52nd Assembly District, Brooklyn), Retiree Advocate Caucus-UFT, CUNY Mobilization Network, The Green Party of NY State, Independent Commission on Public Education (ICOPE), Radical Women, Answer Coalition, Community Education Council 1 (CEC1), Black New Yorkers for Educational Excellence (BNYEE), New Action/UFT, National Black Education Agenda (NBEA), State Assemblywoman Annette Robinson 56th AD, Youth on the Move (a Program of Mothers on the Move), PACE Network. Roots Revisited, S.E.E.D.S., Inc., The Healing Drum Collective, Batay Ouvriye (Workers' Struggle) Solidarity Network, Assemblywoman Inez Barron, Councilman Charles Barron and Operation P.O.W.E.R., Time Out from Testing, The M.A.NY

Additional Contacts:
Stephane Barile, NYCORE and assisting students who are performing play: 650-218-3352
Brian Pickett, teacher at Queensborough Community College  who worked with students performers:, 718-614-4891
Crystal King, parent and PA President of PS 114: 347-789-5468
James Eterno, teacher, Jamaica High School: 917-693-5013
Stefanie Siegel, teacher, Paul Robeson High School: 347-721-2152
Muba YaroFulani, parent, CPE: 347-785-3418/347-442-5134
Brenda Walker, parent, CPE:  347-583- 5925
Leonie Haimson, parent and Executive Director, Class Size Matters:  917-435-9329
Edwin Mayorga, doctoral student in urban education at CUNY and NYCORE member:  917.400.6255
Christine Annechino, parent, CEC3:  917 593 4797

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Closing OUR Public Schools to Replace Them With Private Education Corporations... The Plan is More Clear Than Ever Before!

If you question the Fight Back over the Drive to Privatize, simply examine what has happened to, and what is being planned for PS 114.  This is a school that has faced unconscionable neglect by the DOE and has been set up for failure.  Why, well apparently to essentially replace it with a charter school.  Replacing an elementary school with a charter school is illegal.  What the DOE is doing here clearly is a thinly veiled attack not only on PS 114, not only on our public schools, but on the regulatory and legal system that provides oversight and the ability for communities and the citizens of those communities to have any say in what happens in their community.  The community education council is the only body that has zoning authority over elementary schools... the DOE is clearly trying to castrate that authority.  As Patrick Sullivan said a few months ago, it is like watching a show called The Death of Democracy.

History PS 114 has faced:

New plans for PS 114 after it is closed against the wishes of the community:

Public Notice for PS 114 closure including public hearing and public comment information:

This response and analysis from Noah Gotbaum, CEC3:

The DOE was enjoined from doing the exact same thing - including claiming charter preference admissions for kids in the closed district school - at PS 241 in Harlem. The DOE was trying to close down 241 in March 2009 to make way for Harlem Success IV. A law suit was filed against the closing by the Public Advocate, the UFT, CEC3, and parents which maintained that in closing down the only district school in the zone, the DOE was unilaterally changing zoning lines and thereby usurping the CEC’s legislated zoning powers.

See the Gotham Schools article below.

The suit never went to court as the DOE backed down, but then tried to achieve the same closure ends by harassing and starving PS 241. Immediately after dropping the plan Klein sent a letter to prospective and attending 241 parents urging them to choose another school, and removed 241’s feeder pre-K program and closed their middle school.

241 survives today but continues under siege from Harlem Success IV and the DOE. Earlier this year HSA IV expanded by 175 kids although only authorized in their charter to expand by 125. To make room for these additional HSA classes, the DOE took the three ground floor 241 classrooms next to the principal’s office, gave them to Muscovite’s kids, and moved the 241 kids into three basement rooms next to the school boiler with improper ventilation and egress, including into a converted food service room.

When questioned about the space allocation by Assemblymember Danny O’Donnell, Deputy Mayor Walcott claimed that the Building Council (ie. Principals) all agreed as per the law. However CEC3 has a letter protesting the move by a member of that Council.

Time to Fight Back!!  Wear Black and Take OUR Schools Back:  January 21st is Fight Back Friday. 
Wear black, join the press conference on the steps of Tweed at 4:30 and join the City-Wide Rally at City Hall on the Brooklyn Bridge side (Centre Street) on January 27th from 4:30-6:30!
Fight Back Friday:  Wear Black and Take OUR Schools Back... 
                                                                                                   Stand UP for Public Education!
Januray 21st!

Stop the Attacks on Public Education:

• Stop Closing Schools, Fix Them.

• Stop Charter School Co-Locations.

• Stop School-Based Budget Cuts.

• Stop Increases in Class Sizes.

• Stop the Overemphasis on Standardized Assessment: More Teaching, Less Testing.

• Stop Teacher Data Reports Based on Narrow Tests and Faulty Data.

• Stop Ignoring the Voices of Parents, Educators, and Students: More Parent, Educator and Student Empowerment, Not Less.

• Stop the dictatorial governance of our school system: Mayoral Control is Out of Control!

• No Layoffs of Teachers or School Personnel: Reduce the Bureaucracy and Fire the Middle Managers Instead!

Email your school, group, or community's participation or endorsement @!

Meet us on the steps of Tweed @ 4:30 for a Press Conference!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Class Size Matters!

Today the Manhattan Borough president’s office released the results of a survey to which over 1000 education stakeholders responded, including parents, teachers and principals.  As a group they confirmed that class size and school overcrowding remained their greatest concern.

 Reducing class size is the top priority of parents, year after year, on the DOE’s own parent surveys.  And yet class sizes have risen sharply the last three years, and now in the early grades are larger than they have been at any time in more than a decade.

 Cathie Black said she intends to take the concerns of parents seriously.   She also sent her own children to schools where  class sizes average 12 students per class.  

 Research is clear that class size is a major determinant in a child’s success in school and in later life.   This is especially true for poor and minority children, who benefit twice as much from small classes.

 If Cathie Black cares about improving opportunities for NYC children, and narrowing the achievement gap, she will make absolutely certain that class sizes do not further increase under her watch.

Leonie Haimson

Executive Director

Class Size Matters

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Busine$$ of Education

For the past eight and a half years Joel Klein served as chancellor of New York City schools, and in this time the New York City Board of Education was transformed, or better put, dismantled.  It was re-branded The Department of Education, and reorganized four times.  Each re-organization fueled a business-like metamorphosis, with a larger administrative staff complete with titles like “Executive Director,” and divisions like that of “Talent, Labor and Innovation” with a much diminished emphasis on actual pedagogy. As he proudly carried out Mayor Bloomberg’s twisted education reform agenda, the Department of Education’s support for community public schools faded as Mr. Klein championed charter schools and test scores as the hallmarks of his reign.  Millions of dollars were spent on a computerized system called ARIS that allows teachers to view the test scores of their students in a myriad of ways. Another pet project Klein rolled out was the “School of One” which is described as “leveraging technology to play a more essential role in planning instruction” but more closely resembles a glorified video professor.  As he begins his new job heading Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp to, as Mr. Klein stated in a recent press conference, "put them in the burgeoning and dynamic education marketplace," one must wonder if he was merely using his position as School Chancellor as market research for his new job, where he reportedly stands to make 4.5 million dollars this year. Especially since Mr. Murdoch (who considers education a "$500 billion dollar sector”) has since acquired the businesses that developed ARIS and the School of One.  Halliburton anyone?
We are living in a plutocracy where the privileged few are making decisions for the rest of us. The business of education is currently a popular endeavor for hedge fund profiteers and other out of touch affluent members of corporate society.  They want to profit off of our children and our schools under the guise of so-called school reform. We must stand up together and proclaim that our children and our schools are not for sale.  We must call for an end to Mayoral Control, a governance concept that has clearly gone out of control, and we must fight for democracy, transparency, and social justice in our school system.

 Join parents, students, teachers and
 community members at a rally to stop school closings!

January 27 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.
City Hall Plaza

Thursday, January 6, 2011

This is criminal!

Left with old debts, a Brooklyn school blames decline on cuts

When a Brooklyn elementary school principal sunk her school nearly $180,000 in debt and was eventually removed from her post, teachers expected a fresh start.
Instead, they experienced the city’s typical solution for bankrupt schools: a payment plan.
P.S. 114 in Canarsie, Brooklyn was given four years to repay the city. Now that the city plans to begin closing the school next year, the teachers union, parents, and teachers are blaming the school’s decline on the debt left by a principal they asked the city to fire. City officials are calling this claim is unfair, since other schools manage to pay the city back while keeping their test scores up.
City schools can easily overspend if they don’t factor budget cuts and enrollment decreases into their spending plans. When this happens, the city doesn’t eat the loss and give the school a clean slate the next year. Instead, schools are put on payment plans in which they’re given several years to pay the city back. A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said some schools emerge from this process unscathed, while others struggle with painful cuts.
P.S. 114 falls in the second category. In the last year, its students’ test scores have dropped. About 35 percent of its students tested proficient on the reading test, compared to 53 percent citywide. And 34 percent passed the math test, whereas citywide, that number was 61 percent. The low scores earned the school a D on its annual progress report and a spot on the city’s closure list.
According to DOE officials, former principal Maria Pena-Herrera — who was removed in 2009 — racked up debts by refusing to make any spending cuts. When the city cut the school’s budget by $78,000 in 2008, Pena-Herrera kept spending money and hiring extra assistant principals. When the school’s enrollment dropped by 46 students and the budget shrank further, she still didn’t make cuts.
The city gave P.S. 114 four years to return the funding at about $45,000 per year — a milder per-year cut than the school would have had to deal with if Pena-Herrera had lessened spending in 2008.
Two years and two principals later, P.S. 114 has shed teachers and tutoring programs in order to pay the city back. The school asked for and received a reprieve last year, meaning that this year it has to pay back about $70,000. Now that the city plans to close the school, some teachers and parents are blaming students’ low test scores on the cuts.
“We have no funding for academic intervention services, none for professional development, for after school programs, and by the end of last year we couldn’t even pay for substitutes teachers,” said Maria Shalbinski, the school’s chapter leader.
Shalbinski said that the school’s current principal Charmaine Luke excessed two guidance counselors and six teachers — one from each grade level — and increased class sizes in order to keep spending down. Luke refused a request for comment.
Earlier this week, while Chancellor Cathie Black was touring schools in each of the five boroughs, United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew went to P.S. 114. He said the school shouldn’t have to pay Pena-Herrera’s debt when, for years, teachers and parents petitioned the city for her removal.
“It’s one of the clearest examples I’ve ever seen of the DOE’s incompetence in managing a school building,” he said. “Instead of the DOE being accountable, they’re now blaming the school.”
If the city wins approval for P.S. 114’s closure, the school will not enroll students in kindergarten, first, or second grade next year. The city plans to open a district school and a charter school in the building.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Join parents, students, teachers and community members at a rally to stop school closings and co-locations!.

Join a rally to....
Stop the school closings!
Stop charter invasions
Defend public education
Say no to privatization

Mayor Bloomberg's Department of Education plans to close 26 more schools this year.  Despite the DOE's claim that these school closings are aimed at reforming schools, they have instead opened the door to privately-run charter schools and have limited school options for those affected.  According to the accounts by parents, students and teachers, DOE policies have had the effect of sabotaging the schools that are slated to be closed, not "fixing" them.

Bloomberg has played a shell game with our most vulnerable children, shuffling them around from closing school to closing school.  This process has disproportionately affected students of color, only serving to further perpetuate a separate and unequal school system in New York City.

In addition to closing schools, the DOE plans to grant more public school space to charter schools through co-locations, undermining public school resources and pitting school communities against each other.

We demand quality resources and support for our public schools, not closings and privatization!

January 27 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.
City Hall Plaza
Trains:  4, 5, 6, 2, 3, R, A and C
Sponsored by the Ad Hoc Committee to Stop School Closings and Charter Invasions

Endorsing Organizations:  Grassroots Education Movement (GEM)                            
                                          New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE)
                                          Green Party of New York
                                          Class Size Matters
                                          Concerned Advocates for Public Education (CAPE)
                                          Independent Community of Educators (ICE)
Help plan the protest!  Join the meeting on Wednesday, January 5 at 5 p.m. in room 5414 of the CUNY Graduate Center, located at 34th Street and 5th Avenue

Contact for more information.

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!