Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Just Woke Up: I Had a Nightmare That I was at an 8 Hour Meeting

So I got to sleep after 4:30am last night- or this morning. What day is it?

While last night seemed like a loss to so many, or a funeral - don't forget that in addition to the closing of the 19 schools, our friends at CAPE/PS 15 lost their battle to get PAVE out– I thought the overwhelming attack on Klein and the PEP members, mostly by people of color (killing years of cultivation of Black and Latino/a communities by BloomKlein) will forever sear the minds of those who saw it. I don't care what the press says or writes, they were affected - I watched them. The BloomKlein dominance of the debate has been challenged after years of struggle to get our point of view out about privatization schemes and the role of charters and the way certain kids are treated and the way large schools are manipulated into failure.

Though 19 schools may die (and we are never giving up the fight) they lost their lives on the battle field so others may live.

I know it's a long time away, but last night was the beginning of the end of mayoral control the next time it comes up in 5 years I think. But only if we keep up the pressure, which GEM is promising to do. I am making a commentary video to cover all the ground breaking aspects of the meeting. And of course, I have about 5 hours of video of the meeting that seems very daunting to tackle. Perhaps my friends at Tweed who were taping will do the job for me and post their video on the DOE web site (by the way, nice (and expensive) camera David (Can't). You should have asked, I would have lent you one of mine.

Best line of the night: when Tweed counsel Michael Best turned off the mic of a speaker from the NAACP and Patrick Sullivan challenged PEP Chairperson David Chang to do the dirty work himself. "If someone is going to turn off the mic of an speaker from the NAACP, I want it to be one of the mayor's appointees."

Has the tide turned? Here are some signs:

James Eterno posted this on the ICE blog: Juan Gonzalez wrote an excellent piece on closing schools in the News

and Patrick Sullivan posted this:

Column from Gabe Pressman on suppression of the parent role follows last night's PEP. We don't often see this angle covered in the press.

Parents Battle for a Say in Educational Policy
By GABE PRESSMAN Updated 6:01 PM EST, Wed, Jan 27, 2010

When the Mayor took control of the city’s schools, he promised to make them better.

Whether he kept that promise is debatable. But whether he has made parents part of the improvement process is not. They are definitely excluded. And that’s a shame.

The recent meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy made that clear. Critics of the plan to close down 19 public schools screamed in frustration as the panel heard arguments for and against the school closings, which are emotionally draining for many families.

The critics and the audience knew the die was cast. The Mayor controls the panel and, amid boos and a deafening chorus of "Save Our Schools!" the panel members, after a nine-hour hearing that lasted until 3 A.M., voted 9 to 4 to shut down the schools. No Mayoral appointee cast a dissenting vote.

Patrick Sullivan, representing Manhattan, who had dissented from many past decisions, asked the Mayor’s appointees to explain why they approved the plan to close the schools for poor performance. He asked: "Is there anyone who will defend this?"All but one of the Mayor’s people remained silent.

It was a stacked deck. That’s the essence of mayoral control as it’s now practiced---no dissent, no criticism. Even if the schools have been improved----and many parents don’t think they have----there’s nothing democratic about the way this is being done.

It’s easy to understand the frustration and anger of the parents. But they are learning a practical lesson in how a supposedly democratic process can be distorted to suppress opposition.

The Mayor himself could benefit from some education. He could use a crash course in the values of democracy. The educational policy panel is not there just to ratify decisions already made.

There should be honest and vigorous debate on controversial issues. And all points of view should be respected. If Mayor Bloomberg could be persuaded that this is the right way to handle educational policies, he might still get an A in the course.

1 comment:

gloria said...

I left at 12:15 AM, long enough to see the tear stained faces of our youth who came to this PEP meeting to exercise the democracy they have been studying since the early grades in school. This was more than a minilesson but it might as well have been a "turn and talk" activity because only 4 people on the stage actually listened to them. What the students learned was that democracy is a meaningless word when it's been robbed , overruled and taken over by Mayoral Control. We must continue this fight in order to let our students know that we, their parents, teachers, communities , are listening to them.