Sunday, December 13, 2009

Defend Your School

I just got a call from a former teacher at my school who I haven't heard from for a long time. She and her husband, also a former teacher at my school turned fireman, were at dinner with an old friend who teaches at Gompers HS in the Bronx. He told them that the DOE Death Squad came to his school to tell them the news they were about to die as a school. He was beyond outrage. "I'm not going down without a fight," he said. "We have no one to talk to about this." I have just the people for you," she said. I'm about to call him.

Join the fightback with other schools

Come to the GEM meeting tomorrow - Monday, Dec. 14 at 4:30PM at CUNY, 34th st and 5th ave. rm 5414

Also - attend the Norman Thomas rally on Thursday, Dec. 17, starting at 4pm. 33rd st and Park Ave.
If you are in a closing school or one to be closed in the future (many more of you than you think). Click on pic to read email for a pdf.

Support the joint TJC/ICE/GEM resolution on school closings at the DA this Wed.

The UFT and School Closin

This just came in from a chapter leader at one of the few large high schools left:

Will we see Michael Mulgrew and other big UFT Brass there at the Norman Thomas demos, or any other demos at other closing schools? The CL Update in mentioning closing schools but fails to say what UFT central will do. It said Mulgrew offers the UFT's “full support”. Can anyone tell us what that means? Why not setup the fax blitz like they did for school budget cuts? We could hit the City Council and state legislators for a start. In our contract with the DoE in PAGE ONE it states: "…the Union and the Board mutually agree to join together with other partners in the redesign and improvement of our schools, INCLUDING CLOSING those that have failed and supporting their restructuring." How long has that been in there? Why have it in there? I know NCLB and SURR have their requirements, but why should we have that in there knowing full well the DoE closes schools not on the SURR list or required under NCLB. Maybe the new contract should stipulate that such schools cannot be closed/reorganized without the consent of the UFT. Fat chance.

The UFT policy of school defense is to treat each school individually and not to bring schools together city wide and fight en masse. While the individual struggles to organize staff, students, parents, alumni and community forces is crucial, without taking things to the next step by bringing it all together, this is a losing strategy that might lead to win a few battles, but lose the war.

Note how UFT shills like Peter Goodman tosses out the same UFT line in a piece called How to Fight Your School Closing: A Carefully Constructed, Interactive Grassroots Campaign Can/May Save Your School where he doesn't mention one thing the UFT could do to save your school. In other words, it's all on your backs. How typical. Goodman in another recent piece talked about failed leadership in this piece Piscis Feteo ex Caput: Failing Schools Are Caused By Failed Leadership at the Highest Levels, Deflecting Responsibility to Principals and Teachers is Cowardly. but naturally leaves out the failed leadership of which he is part of in the UFT that enabled the ed deformers to deflect responsibility to teachers.

Read Randi in NY Times and gag
The Detroit teachers contract is devastating - I don't have the details handy but it is a catastrophe for teachers and the union. But here is what Randi has to say about it:

Randi Weingarten in a New York Times ad appearing in the Sunday December 13 edition of the Week In Review on p. 5

What Matters Most: Detroit Teaches America a Valuable Lesson

“…This tentative agreement includes several reforms that will drive the enhancement of school achievement, including school based bonuses, peer assistance, and review and a new, comprehensive teacher evaluation system. At the same time, both parties recognize the severe financial conditions of the district and sought innovative approaches to saving money. Teachers, who are also struggling in these tough times, are being asked to sacrifice - by agreeing to a reduction in pay received now and deferring pay increases until the third year of the contract. Teachers will receive a bonus when leaving the district. The players also recognized the need to address skyrocketing health care costs and agreed to measures that will save the district millions…

I've been saying it for years. That the UFT/AFT are enemies of teachers.

But there is hope: Schools Fight Back
Schools are organizing and we'll chronicle as much as we can while working with GEM, ICE, TJC and others to bring people together for joint actions.

Jamaica High School
I can't say enough about the work Chapter Leader James Eterno has been doing, along with the rest of a supportive staff and student body. As you know, James is the ICE/TJC candidate for president of the UFT against Mike Mulgrew and may be too busy to do much campaigning. But the UFT election is secondary to trying to save Jamaica HS. What I want to point out is that James, like so many other ICE/TJC candidates are amazing fighters (remember, James was part of the most militant crew that left the moribund New Action when they sold out and helped found ICE). They have spine, something so much of Unity Caucus and New Action is missing.

I will do more on Jamaica - over 800 students and alumni have signed onto their Facebook page and there is a meeting at Jamaica this Weds, Dec. 16 at 6pm (the UFT DA is at 4pm). Today there is a great column by Jamaica NY Times sports columnist George Vecsey, an alum, who interviews , Nyles Bynum an all-American student athlete now playing at Temple, titled
In Defense of His Old School
He [Bynum] played football and basketball at Jamaica, was on the honor roll all four years, and was an academic all-American as a senior. He described how one teacher monitored the academic progress of athletes, how coaches encouraged him to study, how guidance counselors helped him apply to college. He ticks off their names, lovingly, starting with Sue Sutera, the tennis coach and mentor to the past generation. “Twenty-five years — and I ain’t going away,” Sutera said last Thursday at a meeting of Jamaica supporters.

Vecsey says:

Whenever I have returned over the past decade, the school has consistently seemed clean and orderly and remains so under Principal Walter G. Acham, a strong presence who carries out board policy and praises the tradition of Jamaica, volunteering, “This is a special place.”

Under a new law, the city must observe a 45-day review period, including a hearing at Jamaica on Jan. 7. The decision will be made by the Panel for Educational Policy at a public hearing Jan. 26 on Staten Island, a location that does not amuse some people in Jamaica. “High school is the best time of your life,” Bynum said. “I’ve always wanted to come back, but it would be hard to come back to some satellite school.”

Over 2000 members of Friends of Jamaica HS on Facebook. Join.

Columbus HS ask people to send letters to the NY State Ed Dept

The way the accountability is structured presumes that a school receives a fairly constant population guided basically by urban geographic and socioeconomic factors that change extremely slowly over time. This is not the case for Columbus - we have received a major influx of the highest needs students that has left AYP and absolute 4 year graduation rates a virtual impossibility. We are not a failing school - although we can and do always strive for improvement - we have many students who graduate over 5, 6, and 7 years. Our most recent 7 year statistics are a graduation rate of 81.5% (NYC average being 72.2%) and our drop out rate was 18.2% (city average 27.8%). Many of our students, and notably our English Language learners who arrive in their junior or senior years with no English take far longer to pass Regents Exams - particularly English.

Our population is mobile and vulnerable and needs to be supported rather than crushed. The DoE plans to replace Columbus with an existing school (KAPPA) from district 10. The students from this school are much lower need than those at Columbus, in fact they are lower need than the prestige programs already housed on the campus. This is one more step in the segregation of students that has been going on for that last 10 or so years - bringing in a large number of high ability students from this existing school in September and having no place for our special needs students and recent immigrants who will then be sent to a more distant large high school.

I posted the entire letter on Norms Notes. Click below.
Columbus HS Letter to NY State Regents

Maxwell HS rally, Dec. 10:
Angel Gonzalez has put up his video of last week's rally, attended by UFT honchos, including Mulgrew, whom Angel caught applauding when Charles Barron said we should close down Tweed.


Click title to view video.
Dec. 9, 2009 Brooklyn, NY.

Mayor Bloomberg announced the closing of over 20 public schools. Maxwell High denounces this unfair callous attempt to privatize with charter schools. Over 250 people protested outside and then inside against the Dept of Education and the complicity of the District Superintendent. Teachers, parents, students and community are organizing locally and citywide to stop this wholesale ruthless assault on public education and school-workers.

CAPE at PS 15 Welcomes you to the Hornet's Nest

I said in yesterday's ed notes post that the DOE has created a hornet's nest at PS 15. The CAPEers have taken that ball and run with it.

"The DOE and its corporate allies isolate and identify communities they think they can overrun and outsmart. They target communities whose populations have historically had a difficult time organizing and accessing resources. We are sure they thought targeting PS 15 in Red Hook was easy pikins'... instead they did in fact unleash a hornet's nest. We are a group of parents and educators who will continue to demand to be heard, not just for the protection and preservation of our community public schools, but in solidarity to fight for the protection and preservation of public education for ALL of our children. Groups are forming across the city, advocates are joining forces.... Let's join together and stop the Bloomberg Administration's assault on public education.

Let's make the Thursday demo at Norman Thomas a pre-cursor of bigger things.


Anonymous said...

will be there with my sword, wings, and cape!!!!!!!!

Bobby said...

Thank you for your interest in saving your school from being closed. School closures are always serious. The students as well as the faculty suffer from a closure.It seems to be a better solution would be to get in there and restructure the old school and commit to some positive changes rather than scrap the whole institution. Thanks again for your information.

ed notes online said...

Hey Bobby
Get in touch with us if you haven't yet so we can put together a coalition of all closed schools.

Nicole Conaway said...

Regarding Detroit Teacher's Contract, Thanks for paying attention. I'm a Detroit Teacher, trying to find ways to get our side of the story out. The details of the contract reveal what I heard someone call "the worst contract for teachers every passed by any union". But the last sentence of Weingartartens statement is the most important. "The agreements' education reforms and provisions...are mere workds on paper without the continued collaboration between teachers , their union, and the school district". This is one teacher, and there are many more, who will do whatever it takes to prove her right, and keep it no more than words on paper.