Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Whither Beach Channel: some politics is local, but not all

Tonight there will be a school closing meeting at Beach Channel HS. I just submitted this for my Wave column which includes yesterday's post (revised - "My guess is the UFT's strategy is to try to save 2 or 3 schools and pull a Bush by having Mulgrew land a jet, exit and declare, "Mission accomplished.")

With the Panel for Educational Policy, the Bloomberg rubber stamp poor excuse for a NYC board of education due to vote on each of the 22 closing schools at the January 26 meeting (6PM, sign up to speak at 5:30), which was moved from Staten Island to Brooklyn Tech, expect lots of action. The UFT is organizing an action and has gotten a permit for the park across the street from Tech for a rally at 4:30.

The new mayoral control law passed this summer forces Tweed to go through a process before closing schools, so there are meetings taking place at all 22 schools during the first two weeks of January. The one at Beach Channel was held on the evening of Jan. 6, after this column was submitted. I'm taping it for you tube but don't expect much more than some venting. Hopefully the Beach Channel staff/student/parent nexus will turn out for the Jan. 21 and Jan. 26 demos where there is some chance to make a dent en masse.

It is important to be aware of the big picture and the Education deform plan: use any means to move as much of the public education system into private hands. Beach Channel is a victim of that plan. The elimination of neighborhood, zoned schools under the so-called – "doesn't everyone have the right to have choice" propaganda – is a way to destroy attachment to local schools and community and open them up to charter franchises to run the schools. It is as close to their cherished voucher system as they can get. And bet that someone is making money on these schemes.

These fights have to go beyond Beach Channel and tie in with struggles of other schools. Without a citywide fight back for all schools, something the UFT refuses to take on – preferring to let each school fight it out on their own – one school at a time will be picked off until there are few schools left under public management. This is truly a citywide, indeed, a nationwide, fight to maintain what will become an endangered species –schools under the oversight of taxpaying citizens.


Politicians: Watch what they do, not what they say.

Given the above, there are still battles to fight on the local level. Audrey Pheffer, Eric Ulrich and Lew Simon all spoke up at the first Beach Channel meeting in December, but will they put themselves on the line to keep the school open? Lew in his Wave column spoke about "our wonderful superintendent Michelle Lloyd-Bey," who clearly drinks out of the Tweed Kool-aid trough and put on a shameless performance - and it was a performance - at the Dec. meeting. I know you're a politician Lew, but give me a break! The UFT did send out a local email urging teachers to go to the Jan. 6 meeting and asked them to call politicians to support the school. Pheffer is at (718) 945-9550 and Ulrich at (718) 318-6411.

There are a few politicians who have been missing in action. First and foremost is Queens Borough President Helen Marshall (718) 286-3000 who appointed Dmytro Fedkowskyj ( as the Queens rep to the PEP. He has been as big a rubber stamp as any Bloomberg flunky. It is time he stand up at the Jan. 26 and vote NO on closing Beach Channel and Jamaica HS and he should support the schools struggling to stay open in other boroughs. There is talk about holding demos at the businesses and homes of the PEP members along with the borough presidents who control them who won't stand up for their communities. Marshall and Brooklyn's Marty Markowitz are particular targets (the Bronx and Manhattan Borough Presidents have appointed people who resist BloomKlein).

In case you forget, we have our own Geraldine D. Chapey, the elder, who has been silent as a member of the State Board of Regents. Her reappointment in 2008 after 20 mute years on the Regents left a lot of people scratching their heads. Let's hear her speak up to save the last neighborhood high school left in Rockaway. Send her a love note at

Finally, there's State Senator Malcolm A. Smith at (718) 528-4290 who has his own charter school just salivating for the Beach Channel building. There has been speculation that is one of the reasons for BCHS being closed. I know, I know, you've been hearing for years that Peninsula Prep is getting its own building. All charter schools have that line. If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on PPA occupying space in BCHS within two years. By the way, PPA is connected to the Victory Charter school national chain, which takes chunks of money out for "services." Victory's CEO is Peg Harrington, who was in charge of all the high schools in pre-BloomKlein days. You know, those schools she ran that are being dubbed as dismal failures. Go figure. Everyone manages to get on the gravy train.

Our schools are being McDonaldized, which is appropriate since McDonald's is one of the largest employers in the nation and all that test prep going on is not about getting kids to go to college, but to train them to work the cash registers and not overfill the milk shake containers.


Anonymous said...

If the DOE allows even 1 school to remain open they open up a can of worms. My bet all 22 will be closed, but you are right to fight and bring this to the public attention.

Natalie said...

This is so tragic. These 22 schools will most likely all be closed so that we can start commercializing our schools too. Great post.