Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Destroying the Public School System in Harlem

The DOE is sending out information to our parents telling them that "as PS 241 Family Academy phases-out over the next few years, the DOE is expanding the school options to students currently attending 241 as well as students zoned to 241."

There are several options offered based on grade level- but essentially all students are being given the option to attend PS 149, PS 76, PS 165, PS 180, PS 185, or try their hand at the Harlem Success Academy 4 which will displace 241 in the building. (Please be aware that the Harlem Success Academy is not a new school- it is simply moving from another site and already has a current student body.)
-From a teacher at PS 241

Harlem is fast becoming a major battleground over the fate of the public school system. With gentrification moving at a quick pace, charter schools have moved in to pick off the cream of the crop. A massive public relations campaign has also reached into the traditional community, using the language of the civil rights movement and framing school choice as the key to a decent education. This appeals to the parents of children who were basically succeeding anyway, albeit in public schools that have been shortchanged of many services (deliberately) that are being offered in charter schools.

Here is one such ad on a hearing today to replace (read: steal) PS 194.
Do you know where your child will go to school in August?
The kids in Harlem deserve a neighborhood school where they can flourish!
Join concerned parents and staff for a Public Hearing about replacing PS 194.

PS 194
244 West 144th Street
New York, NY 10030
Tuesday, March 10th, 5:30pm
Let your voices be HEARD... when your options are taken you are left powerless

Expect a large influx of people organized charter school promoters screaming for more charters. "See," Joel Klein and Eva Moskowitz will chirp, "parents want charters."

Ahh, but there is a rub. There is not room in the charters for ALL the children. Only for the ones that get in. Guess which ones they will be, leaving the kids with the most difficulties to the public schools. (Ms. Moskowitz made her expectations clear by saying, “If you know you cannot commit to all that we ask of you this year, this is not the place for you.)*

As one contact recently noted, "They are creating two school systems. Public schools are being turned into the equivalent of the old "600" schools (where the most extremely difficult students used to be sent).

While no one denies the fact that education in the schools in Harlem has been shortchanged forever, the question has been raised as to whether creating separate but unequal schools systems, which we thought was outlawed in 1954, is the answer. Back to the separate but equal - wink, wink - days of Plessy vs Ferguson. Where are you Brown vs. Board of Education? Some will argue these analogies are false since most parents on both sides are Black. Maybe it's time to redefine the issues into classes of poor, poorer, and poorest. (See Elijah Anderson's Code of the Street.)


We interrupt this story to bring you this Ed Notes sponsored ad from Chicago, where the same process has been playing out for 13 years:

Today's AOL story listed the worst 100 schools based on NCLB and other factors. Four of the Chicago schools are in the top 25 and a total of 21 in the the top 100. A little over 20% of the schools from Duncanland.

Poor Arne Duncan. And Joel Klein. Their policies are doomed to fail. Read our earlier post on Chicago, where resistance is growing and even reversed the announced closings of 6 schools.
Chicago: Ed Forecast for the Nation,

This excerpt from press release on a current David Berliner report points out the roots of the failure:
Last week, Education Secretary Duncan told the Washington Post that those who would use the social ills of poor children as an excuse for not educating them "are part of the problem." Welner agrees. "But," he says, "those who point to schools as an excuse for failure to address social ills are equally at fault."

Berliner explains that NCLB "focuses almost exclusively on school outputs, particularly reading and mathematics achievement test scores." He says, "The law was purposely designed to pay little attention to school inputs in order to ensure that teachers and school administrators had 'no excuses' when it came to better educating impoverished youth."

Yet, as explained in the new report, that position is not merely unrealistic, but certain to fail.

This brief details six out-of-school factors (OSFs) common among the poor that significantly affect the health and learning opportunities of children, and accordingly limit what schools can accomplish on their own: (1) low birth-weight and non-genetic prenatal influences on children; (2) inadequate medical, dental, and vision care, often a result of inadequate or no medical insurance; (3) food insecurity; (4) environmental pollutants; (5) family relations and family stress; and (6) neighborhood characteristics. These OSFs are related to a host of poverty-induced physical, sociological, and psychological problems that children often bring to school, ranging from neurological damage and attention disorders to excessive absenteeism, linguistic underdevelopment, and oppositional behavior. Also discussed is a seventh OSF, extended learning opportunities, such as preschool, after school, and summer school programs that can help to mitigate some of the harm caused by the first six factors.

http://epicpolicy.org/publication/poverty-and-potential

One thing we know: children with many of these factors are not welcome at charter schools like Harlem Success.

However, there is something of a revolt brewing amongs the parents who are not getting in to charters along with the educators and parents at the schools surrounding the schools being handed over to charters. Thus, the parents at PS 241 will have to send their kids to PS 149, PS 76, PS 165, PS 180, PS 185. Parents and teachers at those schools see what's coming: overcrowded and shortchanged to create more failing schools. And don't forget that gem of a Leadership Academy principal that might be sent in to destabilize and create hostility.

What is missing is an organizing body to help put people in touch with each other and create resistance, something that has been going on in Chicago. With the UFT playing the most minimal role by telling schools like PS 241 they will help (too little too late from the fait accompli UFT leadership), the job is open. In Chicago, an opposition caucus called CORE has been so effective in this organizing effort, leading a march of 1000 teachers and parents on Board of Ed and even a local bank backing the Chicago reform effort, that the union leadership has been dragged along. In the long run, this demo will have a greater impact than the dog and pony show the UFT put on last week. (Oh, my, we completed step one, now all you have to do is write a letter to a politician.)

What is needed is a sustained education and organizing effort that can lead to a real mobilization of people, not a one shot deal. ICE and NYCORE have been working together to jump start the process by holding a conference on March 28 (we are having an organizing meeting this afternoon at 4:30 at CUNY in rm 5414, so come join us.)


Related:
For more on Chicago see George Schmidt's Substance.
CORE (The Caucus of Rank and File Educators.)

Eva Moskowitz Exposes Fault Lines of Charter Schools
*All kids and parents are welcome

She demands a lot from Harlem Success parents: They must read their children six books a week, year round, and attend multiple school events, from soccer tournaments to Family Reading Nights. If children are repeatedly late, the parents must join them to do penance at Saturday Academy.

Nefertiti Washington, 28, whose son is a kindergartner, said some parents walked out of a springtime information session when Ms. Moskowitz made her expectations clear by saying, “If you know you cannot commit to all that we ask of you this year, this is not the place for you.”
What it's all about Eva
Eva Moskowitz Succeeds at "Harlem Success"

And the unkindest cut of all:
Obama education plan to call for performance-based pay

Don't forget, Obama lived in the belly of the beast where the educational plan is coming down around their ears. But just watch the Obama ed apologists ignore this one and focus on all the "good" things. But what this shows is the basic faulty market-based thinking. How did that performance pay thing work out for the American financial system?

8 comments:

  1. Are you "Shocked, shocked" by Obama's speech? Obama never hid his public pro merit pay stance. And he wants us to work a longer day as well. Did you catch the part about removing teachers from their jobs? Sounds like he wants to revoke tenure as well! I seem to remember Ednotes being strongly pro-Obama and anti-Hillary and anti-McCain,very critical of the UFT for backing Hillary, and here you are posting criticism of the current Administration's policy re: education, which you knew about yet endorsed. You and many others around the country should have held your noses and backed Clinton in the primary - teachers might have gotten more with her. You and many on the left chose ideology over pragmatism, and this is the result. Oh, and "change" has resulted in numerous tax cheats in charge of our finances, Arne Duncan, a major proponent of the corporate approach, possible crooks (Bill Richardson), an Attorney General that says that Americans are cowards on race after electing an African American President, the continued bailout of corporate America, the irresponsible printing of money with nothing to back it, zero proposed reforms of the underegulated banking industry, Katrina -esque neglect during the ice storms in the South, and political naivete in embracing brutal dictators in Cuba, Syria, and Iran, while planning to send more troops into the burial ground currently called Afghanistan. It seems to me like more of the same incompetance and downright corrupt stupidity we saw the last 8 years. What change? What hope? What is the difference?

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  2. I'm sorry to say, Obama has no clue about public education. His children have always been in private elitist schools. Those teachers don't have to be baited with merit pay. His kids are probably not bombarded with test prep and data collection. They don't have to worry about an extended school year being imposed on them. I voted for Obama, but I feel if this is the path he is taking, not to mention his other bad appointments besides Duncan and his handling of the economy so far, he will be a one term president. Scary.

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  3. Anon 4:53
    While Ed Notes was very anti-Hillary and tilted towards Obama for a variety of reasons, we have been critical of Obama on education, especially in relation to education, even to the extent that the Klonsky bros went wild over our attacks on Bill Ayres over the same ties to the Chicago reform model, which Obama, though slippery, had to support.

    Obama has been subject to extreme criticm from the left over a number of issues, even though many on the left voted for him, given the choice. There is a lot more to be critical of Hillary so it was the best of 2 evils.

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  4. Obama and Duncan playing for Charter Schools,merit pay and extended school year with the mandates of NCLB ? Bubble that 000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000? NC Senator uses educational lottery money to balance state budget ? $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ SEND STIMULUS MONEY FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION ! Get the ball down court Public Education !Clocks ticking and no time outs left !

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  5. Just pray, Clinton puts a call into Obama for us on NCLB still in re-authorization ! End the mandates on Pl 107-110 and find balance between Charter and Public Education !Go Public Education ! "Fire it up and let's go !" Where ? Need specifics and transparancy !

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  6. Who let the skunk out ? That's what this ballgame is going to be !Happy to hear Obama talking education but unclear on the plays he's calling and supporting in education ! Or do we see the play and it's not working,end the mandates on NCLB ! NCLB is like a bridge to no where ! They built it but it's falling apart and now stands useless on a dead end street.Public Education in America is not for sale under NCLB !Close our American school buildings under Pl-107-110 ? Don't foul out Obama !

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  7. Duncan ! Sit the bench and re-group ! Send in damage control ! We don't even have the re-authorization straight out yet ! Now we're selling Charter schools,merit pay and an extended school year ? Fire ants in your pants ! We need specific's and details and they're missing in action ! Americans are supporting NCLB ending and thank-you Hillary Clinton ! She sees what's going on !

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  8. Ask for help and you'll hear the Voices Across America ! When Senator's are forced to use educational lottery money because a state is broke...We need to get on the phone today and call Washington !Don't get a technical !

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