Monday, July 20, 2009

Video of Brooklyn Dreams Public Hearing in District 22


Public hearings are required for for charter schools in each district. Brooklyn Dreams has applied to more than one. Here are videos of the hearing at Shell Bank MS in District 22 in south central Brooklyn held on July 16, 2009. There is a growing movement to make these hearings battlegrounds for charters, as exemplified by the battle at Marine Park MS in May where the Hebrew Language Academy attempt to take space in the school was shot down (Ed Notes coverage is here).

Not very charter school has the resources to turn out busloads of people to these hearings like Moskowitz' Harlem Success, which requires parents to come out to these rallies. Brooklyn Dreams said they had 1100 signatures, but few showed up.

There was a small group of supporters and from a visual estimate, they were mostly black. I have some tape of some of the back and forth but it is disjointed, so I am not uploading it. I did have a good conversation with one of the parents who spoke in favor of Brooklyn Dreams and there was some common ground, but there are a lot of discussions that have to take place.

We hear the major arguments presented are about giving people a choice - a choice by setting up a school with more resources, free from many of the requirements to educate every child, with lower class sizes- and using public money to do so. This is a bogus choice. (I know this is stretching the analogy, but what if in areas with higher crime, a private police force with high private funding was set up to compete with the local precinct?)

I am not pretending to present a fair and balanced view. Charter schools have plenty of slick advertising plus the total support of Tweed and many other resources to do that. There were a few arguments made in favor of Brooklyn Dreams from the audience, but they were not well presented. I do have 10 minutes on the Brooklyn Dreams presentation, which was trashed by many commenters as being very poor.

Don't forget to view the GEM presenters (moi and Gloria) where we try to move the debate from "Put charters in other places, but not here" to "No charters anywhere. FIx the public schools." We handed out a GEM leaflet.

The videos are cut into six short pieces based on the subject or the particular speakers. (Light and sound system– not great.)

City Councilman Lou Fidler, one of the few politicians who stand squarely against charter schools.

Class size and unions
A back and forth between the CEC panel and Brooklyn Dreams over class size and unions. Don't miss this one as the Brooklyn Dreams people say they are not against unions but since they are not required why have them? And the class size stuff is at the core of things.

Two parents and a principal
The best statements from parents I heard and a supervisor who identified himself as being with the CSA (Supervisors union).

Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) speakers Norm Scott and Gloria Brandman, both also with the Independent Community of Educators (ICE). Check out the GEM blog for lots more.

A UFT rep made a decent presentation, pointing to the connection of Brooklyn Dreams with an organization that promotes the teaching of Creationism. But the fatal weakness for the UFT in these situations is that the UFT has charter schools that have taken over parts of two public schools in East NY, something even Brooklyn Dreams is not asking for (supposedly.)

The Brooklyn Dreams presentation

Coverage at Sheepshead Bay Bites which makes it appear to be a UFT fest in Gotham's words.

My comment there:
For the record, it cerainly seemed to me there were only a few UFT people who spoke. More parents than teachers spoke. And a few principals and CSA. I and another teacher spoke but we are vehement critics of the UFT leadership.

And I would check whether BDCS has actually signed the deal for that Parkville St address. They didn't even seem sure exactly where it was.


Anonymous said...

Great coverage. I would like to claify, I notice the statement that the supporters were mostly black. There were also comments made about the Marine Park audience being mostly white.

Please note: This is not a black white issure, although the admin and the charters keep trying to make it so, in their attempt to create a divide and conquer environment. District 22 sticks together, from the north end which is predominately black thru the center with is primarily immigrant to the south which has a large white population. The only concern of our parents, the presidents couuncil, the cdec/csb etc is our children. You will find that the same parents that came out for Marine Park have came out against the Brooklyn Dreams. The district does not want nor need a charter school and that is the message that needs to come out, the only message. Even with the recent influx of title 1 money in many schools, they are facing drastic cuts and cannot afford to see Public Education money going to private charter schools.

ed notes online said...

It is clear that not only are they attempting to divide white and black, but also black and black. But any observer could see that the Marine Park audience was overwhelmingly white. Also at Shell bank from a rough count, there seemed to be a group of black people supporting Brooklyn Dreams, in particular that one gentleman that got into a shouting match. That is understandable because there was a perception that the old Dist 22 was white dominated and short chaneged the northern black schools. I was not a fan of John Comer and that political machine and friends in the district who taught in norther tier schools told me the same thing. I'm not getting into any of that history here but there's a lot to talk about.