Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Civil War in Harlem Over Charter Schools

Sometimes you just have to let Tweed do all the work to organize parents and teachers against their policies. Look at it as letting the game come to you.

While teacher opposition voices have been more than simmering for years, albeit with the dampening effect of the UFT collaborationists, parent voices have mostly been coming from white middle class parents. The BloomKlein appeal to Black parents that their reforms were addressing the civil rights issue of the times seemed to be working.

But as we reported the other day in this post Parents, Teachers at Ocean-Hill Brownsville's PS 150K Lied to by Tweed about PS 150 in Ocean-Hill Brownsville and PS 241 in Harlem (also see our reports on the protests in Chicago) parents who are not being guaranteed entry into the charters are beginning to push back. In our post we talked about the ads being run by charter school interests to undermine public schools - the meeting to be held last night at PS 194 was a prime example.

Well, it was some meeting as Elizabeth Green captures the scene in one of her best ever reports at Gotham Schools. Leonie Haimson tipped her hat at the NYC Public School Parent blog:

Civil war in Harlem over charter schools: shame on DOE!
An excellent description in Gotham Schools of the bitter hearings that took place yesterday about the DOE's plan to eliminate PS 194, a zoned neighborhood school in District 5, and move another branch of Harlem Success Charter School into the building: A divided house spars over charter schools’ growth in Harlem.

As we have pointed out previously in relation to the intention to close PS 294 in District 3, this unilateral decision is illegal according to state law -- one cannot eliminate school zones, according to Section 2590-e of NY State education law, without the approval of the Community Education Council. It is also immoral.

I have witnessed these charter school hearings before. They are the worst experiences one can imagine. Shame on the DOE for creating this situation by throwing crumbs before starving parents.

I'll leave you with just a crumb from Green, but make sure to read the entire thing.

Many of those opposed to housing the charter school at 194 said they are concerned that charter schools — public schools that operate outside the regular district bureaucracy — are part of a larger gentrification of the neighborhood. “Tarzan and Jane are back again, swinging through Harlem: Not with vines, but with charter schools,” said a community activist who offered her name as Dr. K. Samuels. Samuels explained that by Tarzan she meant John White, the thin, long-faced DOE official who ran the hearing, and that by Jane she meant Moskowitz, the politician-turned-school operator who sat a few feet away from her and held her Blackberry in her lap. Samuels added, “Like Tarzan and Jane, coming right through the black community, and they were making everything better because the natives couldn’t do it.”

The colonial metaphor caused some Moskowitz supporters to shake their heads, but Samuels defended it as apt. Though not all of the staff members at Harlem Success Academy 2, the charter school proposed to move into P.S. 194, are white, many are, including the principal. Moskowitz and White are also white. The principal of P.S. 194, meanwhile, is black. Her staff includes a mix of races.

Photoshopped by David B. I still think Eva wears the loin cloth in this family.

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