Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Update: Walcott Turns Tail at Town Hall in Bronx After Students Do a Mic Check

UPDATE: Weds. Feb. 1 5:30AM - fleshing out last night's brief report:
There weren't quite enough people to pull off the whole thing, but that didn't stop the Chancellor and the DOE from packing up in a matter of minutes. That's all it took.  --- anon. report 
I took this photo at the PS 215 closing school hearing. Ironic, eh!
Increasingly, people are not willing to allow the Tweedies to go about spouting their propaganda message and more such confrontations are expected. As this statement shows, when the DOE doesn't have the capacity to stop this they will just walk out. In the report received below, note this:  

"Jose Vargas (Bronx UFT) who came to the meeting looking for Occupy DOE folks. He wants to collaborate with us and make sure we're all on the same page." 

Sure. The UFT wants to make sure to control the page with their message. Not the first time the UFT has made noises about cooperation but behind the scenes we see something else operating. The union surely is planning something for the Feb. 9 PEP where over 20 schools will be voted closed. Union tactics in the past have included various disruptions followed by a walkout, but no attempt to disrupt the meeting to an extent where it can't go on. We'll see on Feb. 9.

Back in August 2010, the Coalition for Educational Justice CEJ), which is organizing today's Union Square protest (Protest Mayor 13% Weds. Feb. 1 3-6PM) followed by a attendance at the Legacy HS hearing at 6pm, shut down a PEP meeting but hasn't tried that again. Their plans for Feb. 9 are unclear but my guess is they will coordinate with the UFT. CEJ is funded by the Annenberg Institute (Norm Fruchter) and there are close ties to the UFT.

At the first sign of resistance, Walcott and crew jumped ship at the District 9 town hall at Evander Childs Campus in the Bronx last night, blaming the mic checkers. A group of 7 students --- some reports say from Lehman HS ---- read the following statement:
Mic Check:
Chancellor Walcott, the DOE and Fellow Community Members,
We are the forgotten voices, effected by this failed education policy.
We are the future leaders of the nation.
The DOE and mayoral control has failed public schools in NYC
THe PEP and budget cuts have failed public schools
Chancellor Walcott is a puppet for this failed administration
We are more than a budget item
We are the future of our generation
This systematic attack on our public schools will not stand!
Closing our schools is not the solution.
Fix our schools, don't close them!
The people united will never be defeated.
Some members of the audience were not happy at the use of mic check because they wanted their say and there was some individual discussions going on regarding this tactic. This has become an issue for internal discussions. Experienced activists who have become tired of pushing on deaf ears also have to take into consideration that people just exposed to having their school closed actually feel that they can reverse things if they get the ears of officials and this tension is expected to continue. An education campaign as to the history and intents of the ed deformers running the DOE is an important component.

Here is an excerpt of a report discussing this issue received from a participant:
Because it wasn't a crowd of people who came to specifically protest school closings the DOE tried very hard to blame US for shutting down the meeting and behaving "disrespectfully." The students were great and there were a lot of interested and supportive folks who we were able to connect with after and explain ourselves too, some of whom were excited about getting involved. The media eventually came long after the DOE left and the students may well make the evening/morning news. We need to think about being very clear with parents who want their voices heard that they can use the people's mic and acknowledge that some parents (like some of those tonight) won't feel that the people's mic is an "appropriate means" of communicating with the DOE (even though we know that no matter what anyone says they won't listen). Lastly, Jose Vargas (Bronx UFT) came to the meeting looking for Occupy DOE folks. He wants to collaborate with us and make sure we're all on the same page. As one parent put in a follow up email, "only in the Bronx." Ever onwards!  
-------
Here was the original message I reported last night-- Tues. Jan. 31, 2012 - 9PM
This just came in from a Bx teacher (unconfirmed):
Students and teachers from Lehman HS shut down the meeting with a MIC check!  Many teachers there from various schools cheered them for shutting up the Chancellor!  Walcott could not continue to feed the public his well rehearsed lies.
Well, we can only hope it's true. The time has come to kill the messenger. Shut down everything. Why even let them spill their baloney?


Postscript: This just came in:
Jose Vargas is full of shit.  I can't believe for one minute that the Bronx office has done the work to organize.  I worked there for 3 years and they don't have the organization.

Daily News Report

 Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott left a meeting with high school students at Evander Childs Tuesday night. 

James Monroe Adams IV for New York Daily News

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott opted to adjourn a meeting with high school students at Evander Childs Tuesday night.

School organizers were forced to abruptly end a meeting at a Bronx high school Tuesday night when it was interrupted by angry students, causing Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott to leave.

Students at Evander Childs in Williamsbridge jumped from their seats, yelling about the city’s “failed education policies.”

The students disrupted the meeting about a half-hour after it began, saying it was payback for a meeting last week at Herbert H. Lehman High School, where students were only allowed 30 seconds to speak about their closing school.

“They don’t even care about what we say,” said student Jesse Aponter, a junior at Lehman.

After a five-minute attempt to calm the rowdy crowd, the meeting was adjourned and Walcott left.


===========
FEB. 4- STATE OF THE UNION: TIME TO FIGHT BACK Register at: http://stateoftheunionconference-estw.eventbrite.com/ See Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: http://normsnotes2.blogspot.com/. And make sure to check out the side panel on the right for important bits.

1 comment:

  1. I imagine that quite unintentionally Walcott really empowered those seven kids.

    "Experienced activists who have become tired of pushing on deaf ears also have to take into consideration that people just exposed to having their school closed actually feel that they can reverse things if they get the ears of officials and this tension is expected to continue. An education campaign as to the history and intents of the ed deformers running the DOE is an important component. "

    Of course that educational campaign must be extended far beyond the current educational activists.

    Another essential of that campaign must be a agenda that clearly shows that the most essential components of the long term solutions is to provide a system of checks and balances, and de-politicizes education as much as possible. That agenda must at least include items that
    1. End mayoral control
    2. Create an educational board of governors to replace the PEP which has a majority of the mayors political puppets, further cementing mayoral control.
    3. Puts forward a better way to select the Chancellor who now, by definition, must be the mayor's loyal puppet.
    4. Also puts forward improved ways to select principals and administrators.
    5. The stake holders are teachers and parents and students, not politicians. That system of checks and balances must exclude the mayor and the city council.


    "Politics like nature abhors a vacuum; but unlike nature, politics like business is the art of self aggrandizement."

    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.)