I am truly saddened to inform you all of the passing of our Superintendent and brother Fortunato "Fred" Rubino. Freddy was truly THE BEST our city has to offer! ----- Email sent to District 14 principals, April 2, 2012
I received the call early this morning from a teacher at IS 318 with the news that former principal and current District 14 Superintendent Fred Rubino had died of a heart attack early this morning. Shock waves are reverberating throughout the Williamsburg/Greenpoint community and beyond.
Why do I feel like I did the day John Lennon died?
I knew Fred more by reputation than personally since his early days as a teacher at IS 318 in the 80's but got to chat with him in later years when he was an AP and then principal. Fred had been offered numerous principal jobs and often was pulled from the school for months at a time to help fix schools in trouble. But he was loyal to the school and waited years for his mentor Al Fierstein to retire before taking the principal job.
When District 14 Supt James Quail retired 6 weeks ago, Fred was appointed as Superintendent --- as a matter of fact on Feb. 16 the night of the 2nd co-location hearing at MS 50. People in the district were so relieved that Fred was appointed and would be able to offer the district some cover from the attacks of the privatizers.
A major going away party was thrown for Fred by the IS 318/District 14 community. I am now kicking myself for not going to honor him.
Fred was a behind the scenes voice opposing ed deform. We have lost possibly the only Superintendent in the NYC schools who would have been willing to defend us against the onslaught of the privatizers. He was opposed to co-locations and to the closing of schools.
We not only lost a great guy, a wonderful family man and one of the more decent people but also a great educator and a warrior on the right side of the ed wars fence.
IS 318 was a school in great demand because of the array of programs the kids were offered. The chess team won the national championship beating out even the top private schools. A film about the team was premiered at the SXSW Film Festival, a very big thing. Here's the site: http://www.brooklyncastle.com/ and an article: Greenpoint Gazette:Chess-in-the-Schools: Brooklyn IS 318 National Champs
The school not only has chess, but robotics, sewing, yoga and more. One of my friends who was attacked over her low TDA in fact teaches these special programs full-time.
When slime bags from the Daily News went after the school and Fred a few weeks ago for the fact that IS 318 doesn't score as high as others and has a higher % of teachers with low TDAs, they naturally ignored reality.
Whereas most schools would never have extensive programs like yoga and sewing and robotics but use the time for test prep, IS 318 is into educating the entire child. Which is why it is so popular among the parents in the district.
Is it a surprise that the press would attack an outspoken principal who defends teacher union rights as this Gotham Schools piece from last March points out?
- gothamschools.org/.../with-tenure-decisions-under-scrutiny-a-princip...Mar 21, 2011 – Last year, when Fortunato Rubino, the principal of a high-performing Williamsburg middle school, wanted to grant tenure to one of his teachers, ...
You can also see Fred applauding Brian De Vale when Brian tried to present Cathie Black with a teddy bear at her Dist 14 appearance in Feb. 2011: at 6:27 of this video: http://youtu.be/ibwyGXD3CI4.
I grabbed a still of Fred applauding with delight.
I have a 30 minute clip where Fred challenged Tweedies at the same meeting at the 28 minute mark where he questions whether Tweed listens to the community and asks the CEC if they are ever listened to. https://vimeo.com/21717003
It turns out that my yoga teacher is best friends with Fred's sister-in-law. She was equally shocked when I told her this morning. "Every one of the people in that family were known for giving so much to people. Whatever someone needed they were there for them," she told me this morning. His sister-in-law who I know always spoke of Fred with reverence. He always went beyond the call of duty.
At a recent meeting, Fred came over and whispered, "Norm, you're ruining me. I waste an hour a day reading your blog with all the links. Keep 'em coming."
I will Fred.
We have not only lost a great man but warrior in the battle for public education.
Fortunato Rubino: Profile of the Possible