Friday, March 20, 2009

Charter School Parents Used As Shock Troops


The Daily News' Juan Gonzalez asks:

Are parents of charter school children across the city being organized into shock troops for Mayor Bloomberg's continued control of the public school system? The state law that authorized mayoral control expires on June 30, and the debate over whether the Legislature should extend it has turned increasingly bitter in many city neighborhoods.

If you check out the last two Ed Notes posts (here and here) dealing with the rally by Brownsville parents opposing charter schools and the bund-like rally held by Eva Moskowitz with Bloomberg at the keynote speaker, you get a picture of what is going on as the pseudo ed reformers, or distorters, use their money and power to push public education off the cliff. The resistance movement grows, but is far outnumbered by the resources of the corporate world which has teamed up with most of the politicians. With the surrender of the teacher unions, the battle will be long and hard and indeed we may have to wait out a generation to see how the test driven/market based/charter school movement with a revolving peace corps-like teacher corps will lead to scandal and even collapse of entire school systems.

What will happen is a growing resistance from parents shut out and teachers overworked. Such coalitions are forming in Chicago and LA and we are in the early stages in NYC.

The ICE/NYCORE conference (endorsed by groups within and outside the union) to STOP CLOSING SCHOOLS on March 28 at John Jay College from 12-3PM is one of the building blocks of the resistance and if you are a resister, you should be there. We have to rebuild the union as a force to defend public education, build alliances with parent, community and student groups.

Gonzalez goes on:
Supporters of Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, including principals from many newly formed public charter schools, have launched a well-financed and sophisticated effort to lobby for more charters and for mayoral control.

In recent weeks, those principals have mobilized parents from their schools for "School Choice" community rallies to demand extra space for new charters in existing public schools, and to pack a series of state Assembly hearings on school governance, the last of which will be held in Brooklyn today.

"You see the organizers and the parents brought in on buses, and the sandwiches distributed, and you can tell it's a highly organized effort," said one official who has attended several of the hearings.

Some disgruntled charter school parents have claimed their principals require them to attend such rallies.

A Harlem principal who shares space with one of the new public charter schools is furious at the "obvious double standard."

"If I tried to use my budget and resources to mobilize parents that way, my job would be in jeopardy," said the principal, who requested anonymity. "But the charters have all this extra money to do whatever they want, all with the blessing of Klein."

If you are involved in education in any way, be scared, very scared, as communities are intentionally turned against each other, as are teachers.

The biggest uproar has been sparked by DOE's aggressive policy of putting new charters in existing public schools without seeking parent approval.

"It's the same in every neighborhood," said Monica Major, president of the Community Education Council in District 11 in the Bronx. "The DOE just tells you they're putting a new charter in your building and you have to force them to even have a conversation about it."

Such directives have turned parents in some neighborhoods into warring factions. Those who favor charters claim others are denying their children the chance for a better education.


Remember: March 28, John Jay College (59th st and 10th Ave) as teachers from some closing schools and some community and even student groups will develop strategies for building the resistance.

Related:
Why Obama is wrong about our schools
Randy Childs, a public school teacher and member of United Teachers Los Angeles, debunks Barack Obama's arguments for charter schools, standardized testing and merit pay for teachers.
http://socialistworker.org/print/2009/03/19/wrong-about-our-schools

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