Tuesday, March 3, 2009

UFT Chaos at John Dewey HS

A result of closing so many south Brooklyn schools

The impact of closing schools is far reaching. The pushed out kids who don't make it into the more selective charter or small schools function as a sort of floating crap game, bouncing from just-closed school to soon-to-be-closed school. The next wave of large comprehensive high schools quickly become overcrowded and resources get taxed. A mentality of "we are next" sets in as administrators use the threat to drive instruction towards pushing testing and grad rates at any cost to the detriment of educational value and integrity. Teachers, worried about thrown into ATR purgatory if the school should close, start back biting at each other, even in the midst of marking exams if one should dare give a student a low score.

That this mentality should infect John Dewey HS (in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn), one of the more progressive high schools in NYC for over 35 years, shows just how far the state of the BloomKlein destructive ed reform agenda has reached.

John Dewey HS is not misnamed as so many schools are, as it offered a special brand of education to students, with a longer school day and all kinds of enrichment, so rarely found in NYC schools, actually touching on some of the educational philosophies of Dewey. It attracted kids from many parts of the city and also attracted some very dynamic teachers. The attitude was somewhat permissive: if kids roamed the halls, it was tolerated. They were socializing, not destroying.

But enter the kinds of kids forced to go there because no small school would accept them or because their families weren't together enough to figure out an alternative; kids who would never apply to a school like Dewey in the first place – and suddenly you have a different kettle of fish. The extra-curricular activities are not quite in line with their interests. Photography club, anyone?

Now don't get me wrong. The needs of these kids could be addressed, but certainly the school is not given the kinds of resources that could make a difference. Thus, schools like Dewey enter the death star spiral and become a target for the school closers at Tweed - maybe some Bloomberg contact is looking for some real estate in the area and needs the cache of charter schools to get those values up.

Recently, reports that divisiveness has reached deep into the UFT, a former proud chapter – and don't think the destructive acts on large schools by BloomKlein doesn't have this in mind.

We received this report:

The UFT executive board is revolting against the chapter leader. There are many issues, but the two most recent have to do with

(1) the lack of administration and union response to the threats by DoE to close Dewey (the DoE's most recent gripe VIA the School Comprehensive Assessment has to do with things like policy and practices regarding school entry, dress code, confiscation of prohibited items, school safety protocols, cafeteria access, etc.);

(2) The chapter leader's accusations of anti-semitism was directed against two teachers. The anti-semitism furor followed the posting of leaflets that advertised a demonstration against Israeli's attacks on Gaza. One of the accused teachers (who happens to be Jewish) claimed he didn't post or distribute the leaflets, but he was defending the right of anyone to do this.

Regarding the bullshit Comprehensive Assessment, the committee wants the school to take a strong stand on Dewey's right to fashion its own rules regarding student use of the building in the light of Dewey's history and philosophy.

The reason for safety incidents has to do with the influx of students who are rejected from all the other South Brooklyn schools that have been closed/divided/restructured/small schoolized. In the light of these immediate events plus a whole host of complaints about how the chapter leader behaved in the last year, making personal accusations against the principal and disseminating misleading information to staff, the executive board is talking about having a recall election.

Leaflets from the UFT executive board critical of the chapter leader are floating around.

And there's a leaflet from the UFT District Rep, Useless CHarlie Friedman (or UCH! ) on behalf of the chapter leader. What else do you expect from the UFT? To side with the forces that actually want to protect the Dewey philosophy and fight Tweed?

How bad can things get when a Unity stalwart not in the school urges ICE to run a candidate in this spring's chapter leader elections?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It’s interesting to see that the dissidents in the chapter at John Dewey and on the executive board are students of history. It’s unfortunate that the example they’re choosing to follow is that of Herman Goebbels and the other Nazis. They’ve adopted the policy of the big lie, and are busying disseminating it to anyone who will listen. To correct the lies in this post, let us note the following:

The executive board is not getting along with the Chapter leader; that is true. Everything else is not.

1. There has been a vigorous response to threats to close the school. The Chapter Leader has spoken to people in the UFT, and has met with local politicians, including a City Council member who is an alumnus of the school. The administration has also met with members of the Alumni Association. Besides, there is no immediate danger of the school being closed. The process would take a few years.

2. The chapter leader did take members of the board to task for posting leaflets. They were not merely advertisements about an anti-Israeli demonstration. They were anti-Semitic and anti Israeli diatribes containing numerous untruths and lies. Furthermore, despite his claims, at least two members of the chapter observed “the accused teacher” with the leaflets and posting them, and have stated their willingness to go on the record, if necessary. One must also question the wisdom of a teacher who is willing to post items designed to inflame emotions and possible cause violence within a school setting. As to the claim of a right to do this, the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the First Amendment right of free speech is not absolute. Perhaps the teacher in question should go back to school.

3. As to the claim of anti-Semitism against a Jewish teacher; sad to say there are numerous examples of Jews being anti-Semitic. Karl Marx, numerous Bolsheviks, and of course the Jewish unit of soldiers who fought for the Nazis come to mind immediately.

The Education Note also fails to mention how the dissident executive board members came to the Chapter Leader’s class, interrupting it, and proceeded to engage in a shouting match in the hallway, in front of his students, setting an excellent example of how adults peacefully discuss their differences, ending with a threat to “Go Irish on him”.

Next time Norman, get your facts correct. You do yourself a disservice by only listening to one side of the story.