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.
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.
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.)
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
What it's all about Eva
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.”
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?