Friday, April 3, 2009

Tweed Undermines Law Suit "Win" on Zoned Schools

The epicenter of the battle over public and charter schools is Harlem, where public schools, long denied resources have been forced into unfair competition with charter schools with sleek advertising, supported by corporations making short-term investments with a long view of profits to be made off the privatizing of public schools. Most egregious is that the DOE, the very agency that has run these public schools under attack for the past 7 years, is lining up on the side of the charters.

No sooner did I write this in my previous post-
We've reached the bizarro stage where Eva Moskowitz, miffed that her real estate grab for publicly funded NYC school buildings went temporarily awry, incites parents in Harlem to demand the DOE close the local zoned school when the DOE rescinded its plan to close PS 241 after the NYCLU and UFT filed suit.

I am all for the suit, but ultimately the DOE will figure out a way to force the "saved" schools into closing. This is all about real estate for charters, man. How about starving them of resources? Or putting in a lunatic Leadership Academy principal? A law suit has to be backed up by action. While the UFT might support individual school protests, it refuses to organize all the threatened schools into a force to demand the kinds of resources they need. When faced with yet another moratorium on school closings resolution, the UFT leadership removed the call for a meeting of all schools threatened with closing.

--than we received communications from teachers at PS 241. I thought it would take Tweed a few days to strike back. Yesterday, Moskowitz' gang struck organizing parents to demand PS 241 be closed. Today came the move by Klein to divert parents from enrolling in PS 241, the equivalency of police commissioner Raymond Kelly urging people in high crime districts to replace the NYPD with a private police force.

Before you read the letter from PS 241 and the letter Klein sent to parents, I wanted to mention the story a teacher from PS 242 in Harlem told at our conference to save public ed on Saturday. She talked about the horrors of 3 schools sharing her building, especially when PS 242 is playing the role of the unfavored step child of the DOE, forced to accept every child tossed from the charter schools in the building.

From teachers at PS 241 in Harlem:

Good Morning All-

As some off you may have heard- DOE will not be closing the school down- they have been put off by the lawsuit! This is not a true victory however.

Please read the letter being sent to the parents carefully.

Parents are still being bullied to send their students to other schools.

Harlem Success Academy will still be placed in our building.

Middle school will be phased out.

Where will there be room for HSA? We would only lose our grade 6 students. We will be attempting to get back all of our parents who were forced to apply elsewhere- but how will they all be housed? Sharing facilities with 3 schools- how? We already do not have use of our gym- and struggle to share the other common areas with another charter school in the building. We will lose classrooms, we will lose our art room, we will have to figure out lunch and breakfast times and children will be eating at all kinds of hours.

PS 242- has shown that three buildings cannot live peacefully and successfully in one facility without children suffering. Also- DOE says that if students come back to the school- and if 241 progresses well (by what standards and whose say so) we will stay open- otherwise we will still be closed. That means with HSA already in the building- they can take over. They will still have a way to rezone illegally in the future.

This must stop. This is not a victory- they have only shifted that battle.

We must come together to rethink how we will move forward.

Send this out to everyone- elected officials, the press, community organizations and let them know that this is not a victory. We are being swindled! I am sure DOE's press release will sound very different!

The letter from Klein to parents has been deciphered by Ed Notes code breakers. Here it is with annotations from our code breakers:

April 3, 2009

Dear parents of P.S. 241:

The most important thing I can do as Chancellor is to make sure that you have excellent school choices for your child [as long as they’re in schools I don’t have to run]. As you know, several months ago, the Department of Education (DOE) said that P.S. 241 had not proven [see, we don’t have to prove nuthin’] that it was preparing enough of its students for middle school, high school, and beyond. The school received a Progress Report grade of D, and only11 students are enrolled in its kindergarten class [heh, heh, heh- we made sure of that]. The DOE thus announced that P.S. 241 would phase out, not accepting kindergarten, first grade, second grade, or sixth grade students next year.

As you also know, after meetings with parents and community officials, the DOE issued a plan to provide a choice of six schools for parents whose children would be in kindergarten, first, and second grades next year. Five options were nearby DOE schools, [which we’ll get to closing down one by one in our version of dominoes] and one was Harlem Success Academy Charter School 4, which would relocate into the P.S. 241 building and would give students attending and zoned to P.S. 241 priority to attend [but only if their parents commit to attending every Harlem Success pep rally].

Already, 50 families residing in the P.S. 241 zone have signed up for Harlem Success Academy 4 and the surrounding DOE schools [after loads of slick advertising.]

Since that time, the teachers union and other parties have attempted to take legal action against the DOE for this plan. I think it’s important that we not confuse the already difficult process of choosing a school. So I’m writing to inform you of two decisions we have made that will impact your school choices for next school year:

1. Harlem Success Academy Charter School 4 will be located in the P.S. 241 building next year and will continue to give an admissions priority to families attending P.S. 241 or living in the P.S. 241 zone.

Children going into kindergarten, first grade, and second grade will also still have the opportunity to apply to P.S. 76, P.S. 149, P.S. 165, P.S. 180, and P.S. 185.

I think you should seriously consider joining the 50 other P.S. 241 zone parents who have already applied to one of these options [so we can claim no one wants to go to PS 241.]

If you do not have an application to Harlem Success Academy 4 or to the other DOE schools you are entitled to attend, you can obtain one from your guidance counselor or parent coordinator; [who are like prisoners in war camps who are made to dig the graves of their fellow prisoners] or you can find a Harlem Success application online at

As you know from the letters and calls you have already received, as well as the bulletins passed out around the school, the application deadline is Monday, April 6.

2. The P.S. 241 elementary school will not be phasing out starting this fall. The school will be open with all elementary school grades this fall. Rather than waiting to let the courts decide, we think you, the parents, will make the right elementary school choice for your child [meaning, no way choose PS 241, which we guarantee will be starved of resources so we can give the entire building to Eva, who has dirty pictures of me.] You can choose Harlem Success Academy 4, you can choose one of the other five DOE elementary schools, or you can choose P.S. 241. We will continue to support the school [ha, ha, ha] and will review its performance in the year to come [you know what to do Jimmy Leibman]. If zoned parents enroll in the school, and if the school serves children well, it will remain open [but watch out for the fire traps and asbestos that may be spread all over the place]. If it continues to perform at a low level [and don’t worry, we’ll make sure it does], it will not. Please also note that the P.S. 241 middle school will continue to phase out; all current 5th grade students have already applied to a District 3 middle school.

The Parent Coordinator at P.S. 241, the District 3 Family Advocate, and the Borough Enrollment Office have information about all of the schools you are entitled to attend, including Harlem Success Academy 4 and P.S. 241.

Joel I. Klein

RELATED: Report from ISO's Jeremy Sawyer on the March 28 conference
Defending public schools in NYC

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  1. So very, very aggressive.

    Have they stepped it up to get as many schools transformed as they possibly can, in case the mayoral control decision goes against them?

    Are people there sensing which way the outcome of that decision will go?

  2. Your thesis maybe valid. Continued mayoral control is a given. The only issue is the extend of checks and balances. Their aggression is only hurting them and helping us organize.


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