Before you even start reading this, note that over 100 schools have been or are about to be closed by the DOE over the last 5 years while the UFT played twiddle and dee. It took the in your face outrage of closing 19 schools at one shot to get them to take any action at all and even that has not reversed any closings except for one component of AE Smith HS (the chapter leader will be speaking at the GEM meeting on Tuesday). And they are trying to come up with a plan for Columbus which will be tricky indeed.
I was sent this email that Unity Caucus' Anne Millman sent out to Jane Addams HS for Academics and Careers staff members in response to a call for people to attend the GEM meeting on closing schools. Aside from the personal attack on me, comparing me to Sarah Palin - they always resort to the personal when they don't have much else to stand on - there is inherent in the email a blame the people in the school for not getting parents involved. This quote from Millman in which she uses the ed deformer "status quo" expression is indicative as to where the UFT really stands -
if the statistics are not good, we can't argue that improvements are needed. Certainly one area that stands out is the lack of parental involvement, which is a key component that helps some schools improve. The UFT recognizes how important it is for teachers to work with the parents and community in any effort to save a school. For the teachers to protest school change -- even a school closing -- without that parental and community support can look like a self-serving demand for the status quo and that's not good for teachers or for students.Millman and the UFT know full well that gathering parent support it difficult if not impossible for a school like Jane Addams but in essence dooms the school - the UFT will not fight for teachers because it looks bad - looks bad to the ed deformers who will attack the UFT for supporting the teachers. Note how she even defends the DOE:
I looked at the document the DOE put out and it follows the process the UFT helped negotiate. It doesn't really bash teachers...Gag, gag, gag. Like the UFT doesn't know the major reason for closing schools is to dump out the teachers and often the students. Well, maybe the leadership never told Anne what is really going on.
It has been pointed out by Glenn Tepper, a teacher at Addams that they were handed a poison pill. I printed Glenn's email which included information passed on by a teacher there who was outraged at the actions of the DOE. Glenn said
Chancellor Klein and the rubber-stamping DoE deliberately force-fed Jane Addams a series of poison pills, over a period of several years, all with the intended outcome of causing the school to implode over time. And now all the band-aids in the world can't stop the hemorrhaging. All along, the plan was to destroy the school.The other teacher at the school had written:
They are coming after us... The superintendent came to school on Thursday and Friday. The report below is what they plan for us. They are blaming the teachers. . . it is crazy. This week we are having both the quality review and people from the state to look at our school and decide what to do. But, they pretty much have their minds made up. They know that the parents won't speak up. We only had 3 parents at the meeting. It was supposed to be at 3pm and we had 6 parents. But, the superintendent said she was told it was 5pm. So the 3 of the parents left. We are an easy school to close because parents aren't going to fight. Anyway, please forward this information on to people who care because we need to speak out. We need to be heard.
http://schools.nyc.gov/community/planning/changes/bronx/addamsNone of these facts count to the DOE/ed deformers not it seems to the UFT flacks like Anne Millman. Here is her email:
If you look at the numbers - that despite the fact that we have 500 fewer students in the last 5 years. . . we have more special ed students. We also now have more ELL learners with IEPs and about the same number of overage students. In 2006 we had 19 kids in temporary housing, last year we had 105.
Norman Scott of Greenroots [sic] Education Movement has been a fixture for decades among anti-UFT factions on one issue after another. He used to belong to various anti-Unity caucuses in the union but he's such a maverick -- a la Sara Palin -- that even those anti-establishment groups have distanced themselves from him. He's a publicity seeker and tends to attract people who want to make noise, not get results.
The fact is that the UFT has taken the school closings very seriously, went to court in some instances and waged a publicity campaign that together prevented the DOE from closing schools unilaterally. The prime example was Christopher Columbus. [Ed Note: Hmmm Anne, that only leaves 18 schools from last year alone that didn't make your prime example cut.]
I looked at the document the DOE put out and it follows the process the UFT helped negotiate. It doesn't really bash teachers, even says that they have worked hard to make improvements. It provides for a comment period to respond to the DOE's plans, which are not yet set. As I read it, they could either leave the school open and try to help it improve OR close and restructure it. Maybe that's not a sincere alternative but you can't ignore it either. [Ed Note: I may vote for this as the funniest line- but oh so many choices, though the next two are in the running also.] If you and others who care about the school prefer one to the other, send in your comments to that effect. Even better, get parents and people in the community to send in comments of support.Note Millman's solution: If you and others who care about the school prefer one to the other, send in your comments to that effect. Even better, get parents and people in the community to send in comments of support.
There's no doubt that the DOE targets some schools as dumping grounds and JA may well have been one of them. Still, if the statistics are not good, we can't argue that improvements are needed. Certainly one area that stands out is the lack of parental involvement, which is a key component that helps some schools improve. The UFT recognizes how important it is for teachers to work with the parents and community in any effort to save a school. For the teachers to protest school change -- even a school closing -- without that parental and community support can look like a self-serving demand for the status quo and that's not good for teachers or for students.
She is trying to sell them on the idea that Joel Klein actually will hear the comments and they will make a difference, offering the hope that they can reverse things through the DOE's own fake process. More UFT ice water in the winter.
What will it take? Only by organizing ALL the schools into a collective body instead of following the UFT policy as evidenced by Millman's comments of isolating each school can a movement be started to point out that closing or reorganizing schools is a political and not an educational move, can we begin to see reversals. It hasn't worked in Chicago or other urban centers and it is not working here in NYC. The GEM closing schools meeting on Tuesday Oct. 26 is designed to begin to forge such alliances, something the UFT and the DOE are desperate to stop, as evidenced by Millman's missive.
And oh yes, Anne, I am a noise maker and proud of it. I just love all those "solutions" you guys have come up with over the last 8 years. How's that teacher data report "solution" working out?
Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: http://normsnotes2.blogspot.com/