Sunday, December 20, 2009

PAVE's Spencer Robertson: Billionaire Slimebag...and Liar Too

There is such an important post at the CAPE blog, that I am cross-posting it here below. The parents at PS 15 held a demo yesterday. Spencer (daddy, give me a school) Robertson didn't take it too well.

CAPEers think old Spencer is showing cracks. Head o
n over to CAPE and add your comments.

Oh the outrage that the NYCDOE gives Robertson $26 million to build his play school because daddy is a billionaire, just a sliver of
the massive corruption under BloomKlein. And they talk about the awful old decentralization days when a local school board member took home a dilapidated piano.

As a companion piece, read another brilliant post by Leonie Haimson on the NYC Public School Parent blog titled:

Charter schools: the new polo ponies of the wealthy

Leonie points out that daddy Robertson is the 147th richest man in America. Why should he have to give Spencer a job when he can get we tax payers to foot the bill?

Follow this trail:


....Julian Robertson himself is careful not to pay NYC taxes , by making certain to spend under 183 days in the city. The state recently brought a lawsuit against Mr. Robertson senior for failure to pay taxes, but Robertson won this case, by proving that he had carefully worked out the minimum number of days he would reside in the city and having his scheduler keep records of this:

"...Mr. Robertson designated an assistant, his scheduler Julie Depperschmidt, to keep a careful count of where the Robertsons were from day to day in 2000 and to make sure they did not spend 183 days or more in New York City."

Spencer Robertson's wife Sarah is Director of Talent Recruitment at PAVE , and head of the board of Girls Prep Charter School, which has caused considerable controversy of its own by seeking to expand within a District 1 public school building.

Another member of the Girls Prep board is Eric Grannis, husband of Eva Moskowitz, who makes more than $300,000 a year, operating another string of charter schools and who herself has been eager to expand her schools even further into the buildings of existing public schools in Harlem.

Leonie points to "this article about a "secret" meeting that took place last May, between Bloomberg, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Julian Robertson and other members of the Billionaire Boy's club, about how to coordinate their charity "efforts".

UFT: Silence of the lambs
Before you read the CAPE piece, let me point to the silence of the lambs at the UFT on these type of issues no matter how much Leo Casey whines about real estate grabs. Note the same Bill Gates the UFT is partnering with in a plan that will lead to evaluating teachers.

And note the name Eli Broad as part of the crew above. He gave the UFT charter schools $1 million. And he was a major factor in the publication and publicity campaign for Richard Kahlenberg's "Shanker was right about everything" bio, which was designed to soften teacher unionists up for "the program." (Read Vera Pavone and my review of the book if you want to know more.) So who is in bed with who(m)?

Dammit, I wanted to write a piece that the real mismanagers have been the UFT, not the DOE, where BloomKlein have managed the dismantlement of teacher rights and the take over of swaths of public schools for private interests. Now, Under Assault's assault on the UFT has beaten me to it:

I REFUSE TO BELIEVE THE UFT IS THIS STUPID

"MISMANAGEMENT CENTRAL is Unity Caucus, which is taking us whitewater rafting down a very long and angry river without paddles, lifesavers, or strategic thinkers at the helm."

Finally, one more point made about the UFT leadership by South Bronx Teacher in this post:
....the top 1,400 sycophants working for Joel Klein will be getting raises totaling $12 million dollars, including 475 that already make over $100K. That is bugging me, but not as much as something else I read in the Daily News article.

What is bugging me, perplexing me, annoying me the most is Mike Mulgrew's response. Mulgrew, and I must think of a pet name for him, blabbered, "The chancellor has the right to make his own judgments about what his managers deserve." No outrage Mike? No stern consternation? Not even a tsk tsk?


CAPE: Will the Real Spencer Robertson Please Stand Up

12/19/09

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.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing this Norm. We, all of NYC, need to take this as a strong warning, as a strong signal of what is to come. The time is now to stand up and protect our schools: no more corupt capacities, forced sharings and extensions, no more sliding scales and school closings, no more funneling of money to the rich and powerful. The time is now! If we stand up right now, on these issues, in this next month, we can stop this runaway train that will destroy our childrens' access to a free, equiatable, and public education.
    CAPE has great contact info on their blog: people need to get it and take action.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Shame on PAVE! And a huge
    "Thank you" to Norm for shedding a most enlightening super-focused-lens to the situation at hand.

    I was aPPALED by Spencer Robertson's negative and divisive comments (read-slander) towards: CAPE members, PS15K physical plant managers, and parents of children whom attend/have attended PS15K, at the joint hearing.

    I guess he figures he's got a five year extension+++ already, why fight?....or why even play "nice."

    Well, my opponent, (and you're soooo not worthy) don your gloves.....

    how DARE you!!......

    Do your PAVE Academy "scholars" know how hideously their seemingly-humble "leader" acts in a public forum?

    Would you care for your "scholars" to see you pointing and laughing at others as a model of "Perseverance, Achievement, Vibrance and Excellence? " Where does ugliness enter into the PAVE equation?

    You showed nothing short of embarrassment and lack of any sort of class. Class is real, and it can't be faked. No matter how many billions planted your seed...

    I think your parents would be appalled by your behavior.

    Did you hear applause at the end of your two minutes?...hmmmmm. I didn't either.....

    chirp, chirp,....crickets.....

    ReplyDelete
  3. as a PAVE Parent...i'm happy that the school opened..and for the teachers at ps15 of course they are in our community every day and night...THEY LIVE THERE THEIR CHILDREN LIVE THERE...YOUR ABSOLUTELY RIGHT I HAVE SEEN PS 15 PARENTS HAGNING OUT AND UNTIL 2 3 IN THE MORNING...I HAVE SEEN THEM TAKE THE GOOD OLE POSITIVE BEHAVIOR THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO TEACH CHILDREN AND TURN IT ALL UP SIDE DOWN WHEN THEY ARE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD WITH THE FOUL MOUTHS AND DISGUSTING BEHAVIOR....SO GO HEAD KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK PS 15 TEACHERS...AS FOR MR ROBERTSON..GOOD JOB I CANT WAIT UNTIL WE ARE OPEN IN OUR NEW LOCATION...FYI THE GRADES AT PAVE ARE EXCELLENT, THEIR CURRICULUM IS SO ABOVE MANY PUBLIC SCHOOLS I HAVE RESEARCHED..THEIR WEEKLY COMMUNITY MEETING TO KEEP PARENTS INFORMED IS GREAT...I'AM SORRY FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO DONT AGREE BUT PAVE IS A GREAT SCHOOL AND SOON YOU WILL HAVE YOUR BUILDING BACK PS 15..GOOD LUCK.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It is sad that two sides of an argument can have such strong opinions without putting the children FIRST. It is very clear that teachers and supporters of public schools have a strong opposition to Charter Schools, whether it's PAVE, Harlem Success Academies or otherwise. The fact remains that these schools SIGNIFICANTLY outperform public schools and really seem to care about their students. How often can you walk into a school and speak with a principal who is intimately familiar with your child's performance, progress with minimal or no written reference? They simply can't manage to run an effective educational system given the volume of students they are expected to manage. Couple that with tenured teachers who don't care about your kids and do the bare bones minimum to get through the school day and sleep well at night because their unions protect them...It is virtually impossible for the system to remove them, so everyone simply looks the other way. How many more children have to suffer at the hands of our political public education system? Public School teachers may not make hefty salaries, but their administrators certainly do. Why don't you check your schools accounting records, really check them, and find out how many school administrators got paid thousands of dollars in overtime? Measure that against the work they actually achieved. I sincerely hope Dennis Walcott makes significant changes to ensure that good teachers are appropriately compensated for the work they do, and ensure that Administrators don't continue to abuse their privileges. This is the reason why they are so strongly opposed to other organizations that compete with them and ultimately outperform them. I personally know Principals and Assistant Principals who make six figure salaries just for showing up to work and realistically produce a fraction of what they claim they do. In actuality, a good part of the day is spent socializing and "shmoozing" parents in an effort to promote themselves for the purposes of job security. They often recruit parent volunteers and get them to do the work that they are expected to do for the salaries they earn. It is sickening and it is happening throughout the country. It is my hope that one day Public and Charter schools can honestly sit at the table to compare notes and work together to adapt and implement strategies that work for children on both sides of the fence. Parents and teachers should keep politics in the gutter where it belongs and do what is best for the children regardless of the kind of education they choose. Overall it is about doing what's best for our Nation's future generation, no our Public School teacher's pockets. It shouldn't matter whether Mr. Robertson's father is a Billionaire, or if he won any awards for public speaking. What matters is that he is helping children to succeed in school, advance and excel in college, and earn a living in this great country so that our jobs don't continue to move overseas. He is networking with Global leaders to ensure that our kids' skills are competitive in today's job market so that they can succeed in earning a living and give back to our communities. Do your homework people, and fight the GOOD fight!

    ReplyDelete

Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Currently, comment moderation is on, so if your comment doesn't appear it is because I haven't gotten to it yet. (Don't know how to do that from my cell phone.)