Thursday, January 10, 2008

Big Business of Public Education Forum Attracts a Crowd

Updated Friday, Jan. 11

It was standing room only at today's Teachers Unite-sponsored forum on privatization. Speakers Michael Fiorillo and Leonie Haimson wowed the crowd with their knowledge and analysis of the privatization of public schools. Michael concentrated on the historical and broad context, while Leonie focused on the impact of BloomKlein on NYC.

Michael is an ESL teacher and chapter leader at Newcomers HS in Long Island City and Leonie is the founder and director of Class Size Matters and the co-founder of the NYC Public School Parents blog.

The mixed crowd consisted of teachers new to the system and veterans and there was a rousing discussion afterwards with some the fault lines between newbies and vets being exposed. Teachers Unite, under the direction of Sally Lee, will attempt to address some of these issues at future events. (We've talked about holding a "bridging the gap" open discussion at some point.)

Why have these forums (we've held 3 events so far) tempted over 50 teachers to come out on a Thursday afternoon/evening and attracted the interest of some influential people in the ed/political world (look for more fabulous speakers in the future)? Because these crucial discussions are taking place no where else. One of our goals will be to figure out how to include more audience participation as there were still many questions left unanswered and the sense that people would have staid around even longer.

I put together a list of resources for the participants and will post them later.
I videotaped the event and will try to get sections up on the web within the next 2 weeks.

Look for the next forum on big business and privatization on March 27.

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