Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Today at PEP: Mayor de Blasio's "RENEWAL" means public school "REMOVAL"

The correlation between the Receivership and Renewal program and the sites where charters are opening and expanding is undeniable.
It is a very busy day today. First the UFT Delegate Assembly where MORE will have 5000 leaflets to give to contacts for their schools. I will leave early for the PEP where at least 2 actions are taking place. Parents of Central Park East 1 will hold a press conference calling for the removal of their principal as I chronicled their story:
And there is the long-running battle led by Aixa Rodriguez and Jane Maisel to save FLAGS. The PEP meeting should have some life. MOREs will be there as well at the DA and the post DA happy hour.

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 20, 2016
CONTACTS:  
Jane Maisel (917) 678­-1913

Contact after 3 pm
Jim Donahue  
or
Jim Shoaf  jimshoaf@me.com


PRESS CONFERENCE
100 Hester Street, NYC
Wednesday, April 20, 5:15 pm

Mayor de Blasio's "RENEWAL" 
means public school "REMOVAL"

New York City-- Bronx high school, Foreign Language Academy for Global Studies (FLAGS), may be closed by a vote of the Panel for Educational Policy, held this evening, Wednesday, April 20th, despite the fact that it was classified by NYS as a Receivership School and by the NYC DOE as a Renewal School and was supposed to have time and support renew itself. Its space will be given to a charter school, as the DOE has recommended, with the full cooperation of the current UFT leadership.
At 5:15 p.m., families and teachers will hold a press conference before the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) votes. They will decry this betrayal and explain how school closures perpetuate systemic segregation and racism, while serving the private interests of charter school profiteers.
According to Aixa Rodriguez, NYC DOE teacher, notice of FLAGS’ possible closure was, "like a poison. We began hemorrhaging students. The stigma of the label is what made our enrollment fall, and then our low enrollment was used as a reason to close us.”  
“The DOE loves to break up schools into small schools, but their love isn’t sustained once there is a choice between a small school and a charter. It looks as if the small school movement is nothing more than a method for picking off public schools, one by one, as their buildings are demanded by charter schools. And the schools that are being closed are in communities with the fewest economic resources.” observed Jane Maisel, member of Change the Stakes.
Rodriguez describes a cascade of problems set off by the threat of closure: teachers looking for other jobs, the school improvement grant only distributed in February which was the same month the proposal to close FLAGS was delivered, while students were not informed of the closure with enough time to participate in the first round of the high school application process.

Were the new toilets a gift for the new tenants, Academic Leadership Charter? They were never meant for us.”
At the April 5 meeting, the school community was already so resigned that not a single parent, teacher or student spoke. Senior Deputy Chancellor Dorita Gibson told the audience that it is never easy to make the decision to close a school, and that it really is not possible to run a good high school with only 100 students. This was the same argument used with the recent closure of three other schools, and was supported by the UFT’s current president, Michael Mulgrew.
Yet over the past year, the school staff’s multiple suggestions for attracting new students were all rejected by the principal. When a CEC 7 member suggested that the DOE should keep its commitment to the students by reviving rather than closing the school, building on the strength of the mostly multilingual student body, her ideas were dismissed. Apparently occupying space that has been requested by a charter school is tantamount to a death sentence for a school. Teachers and parents do not accept the DOE’s chilling logic. Parents and teachers ask the PEP members to make an independent judgement on this trend of sacrificing schools, but we will be surprised if the members of the PEP are willing to resist giving their rubber stamp approval to the DOE’s decision.
Jim Donohue teaches English at Renewal School JHS 145 in the Bronx. His school fought to prevent a charter co-location during high stakes standardized testing season last year. According to Donohue, "Success Academy came into our school last year and pointed out the classrooms they wanted. The DOE welcomed them with open arms and told us to get packing. We have been scattered across 4 floors of the building, and Success Academy has beautifully renovated the 19 classrooms that they staked a claim to. This is defined as RENEWAL."
Tonight the PEP will also vote on the expansion of Success Academy Charter School Bed-Stuy 1 at the site of Foundations Academy, a Renewal School that will cease to exist after this year. The correlation between the Receivership and Renewal program and the sites where charters are opening and expanding is undeniable. Concerned teachers and parents wish to make this hypocrisy clear to members of the PEP. Closing Renewal Schools and allowing charter schools to take over their space undermines the restoration Mayor de Blasio promised and institutes a climate of fear and demoralization. Advocates demand a moratorium on public school closures, demand that city officials join NYC citizens in fighting the law that requires the DOE to pay for charter school space, and that all public schools be meaningfully respected and given a genuine chance to thrive.
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