Saturday, March 27, 2010

Much Ado About Making Resolutions: ICE Reso at Ex Bd, Jan. 2007

With regard to closing schools:

The DOE is successfully implementing the Grover Norquist “Starve the Beast” policy and it must be stopped. Norquist recommends tax cuts and more tax cuts so that government won’t be able to function and then his people complain that the government is doing a terrible job and needs to be cut some more."
-----Jeff Kaufman, posted on the ICE blog, Jan. 2007

I find the NAC attack on ICE over the silly notion that presenting resolutions at UFT Executive Board meetings is the most important thing one can do extremely funny. Especially since that is all New Action does. ICE, you see, has been out there actually supporting people at closing schools over the years.

Today's court decision on the closing schools is a perfect example of how UFT resolutions mean little. There have been quite a few resos against closing schools over the years. Why did it take so long to go to court? As I read it, the complaint is over the way procedures were not followed. Tweed's arrogance ha been exposed. But expect them to do it more carefully next time. The UFT doesn't oppose the closing of schools - as long as the procedures are followed. But a good aspect it that Tweed will have to come up with some consistent "facts"- twisted of course - for why schools should be closed. Like, Eva needs more space.

While New Action makes empty resolutions in a sea of Unity clones, ICE people have been at closing school meetings and PEP meetings and charter invasion hearings speaking up in support.

Not that ICE never made a closing school reso when we were on the Executive Board. James Eterno reminded me today about this post on the ICE blog on Jan. 13, 2007 by Jeff Kaufman, currently ICE-TJC candidate for Assistant Treasurer. It exhibits the kind of work ICE did on the Exec. Board, with analysis of DOE policy behind school closings.

James Eterno, ICE's High School Rep, submitted a resolution calling for the UFT to get off the fence and call for a moratorium on the closing of schools before an independent evaluation can be concluded.

While hundreds of our members face excessing Weingarten showed how she can fiddle while Rome burns and substituted a watered down resolution which called for the DOE to "refrain" from closing schools.

Thanks, Randi. Way to stand up to BloomKlein who close schools for political reasons and to create large pools of excessed teachers. But what could we really expect, especially when you completed a sweetheart deal to continue the decimation of seniority, loss of grievance rights and other basic rights of our members? You showed your true colors when you "agreed" with the closing of Lafayette. The teachers and staff at Lafayette thank you as well.

The resolution follows:

January 2007 Resolution Calling for a Moratorium on Closing Schools

WHEREAS, the Department of Education (DOE) chronically mismanages schools, refuses to provide schools with adequate funding and then blames staff for failing results; and

WHEREAS, there is no valid evidence that proves the educational benefits of the DOE’s policy of closing schools, not admitting new students, displacing staff, and then reopening the same building as a different school or group of schools; and

WHEREAS, there is no clear standard for what constitutes a failing school yet the DOE in December announced the closing of five more schools; and

WHEREAS, the resulting period of uncertainty can have a deleterious impact on students in the effected schools as well as in neighboring schools that become severely overcrowded by accepting incoming students who would have gone to the schools being phased out; and

WHEREAS, new/redesigned schools do not have to accept special education and Limited English Proficiency students in their first two years of existence, thus creating fewer educational options for some of our students most in need, and concentrating disproportionate numbers of these students in other facilities, straining the resources of those schools too; and

WHEREAS, the 2005 UFT Contract eliminated Article 18G5, which gave staff in closing or phased out schools the “broadest possible placement choices available within the authority of the Board;” and

WHEREAS, the current Contract throws staff (experienced and new) from closing/phasing out schools en masse onto the “open market” where they must look for their own jobs or become Absent Teacher Reserves (day-to-day substitutes) thus discouraging UFT members from wanting to work in difficult schools; and

WHEREAS, many of the schools that replaced previously redesigned schools are now themselves failing and in danger of closing; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the UFT call for an immediate moratorium on the closing down/ redesigning of schools by the Department of Education until independent studies are done to assess the effectiveness of the newly redesigned schools as well as the overall impact of closing/redesigning schools on students, staff and communities throughout the system; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the UFT use part of its “Teachers Make a Difference” campaign to publicize the need for full funding of all schools, with particular attention paid to calling for extra funding for troubled schools in order to: lower class sizes, provide modern up to date facilities as well as safe and stable environments as an alternative to closing schools, displacing students and staff resulting in overcrowding of neighboring schools.

It’s time for the UFT to use its resources to stop allowing the Department of Education to get away with holding teachers and students accountable for their mismanagement.

The DOE is successfully implementing the Grover Norquist “Starve the Beast” policy and it must be stopped. Norquist recommends tax cuts and more tax cuts so that government won’t be able to function and then his people complain that the government is doing a terrible job and needs to be cut some more.

The DOE chronically under-funds schools. The courts have declared that the city doesn’t even give adequate funding for a sound basic education. The DOE adds to the problem by chronically mismanaging schools and then blaming us when schools don’t get everyone to be proficient.

Instead of thanking the teachers and other UFT members for performing educational miracles with so many students in situations that are virtually impossible, our schools are deemed failing by some criteria that nobody knows about. The schools are then closed down, we are displaced and have to apply for our jobs back in our own schools. Kids who would have gone to the school closing are directed to other schools which become more overcrowded and then they are deemed as failing. The new schools don’t have to take special education students or ESL students for two years so they look like they are succeeding but the success and extra funding later dry up and certain new schools have already been deemed as failures. This has been going on for years. This cycle must cease as nobody has shown any concrete evidence that any of this works for students

The UFT’s position on all of this has been to wait. In 2003 the Manhattan High School Chapter leaders came up with a resolution calling for a moratorium on the breakup and redesign of large high schools. I cosponsored the introduction of that resolution in this body and it was tabled. The UFT put together a small schools task force that called for among other things a study to be done on the effectiveness of small schools but it didn’t call for the DOE to stop closing schools until we have the data.

In 2006 the Parents Citywide Council on High Schools called the Chancellor to substantially delay the implementation of small high schools in part because of the issue of special ed and ESL students not being accepted in new schools. I asked last year at this body if the UFT supported that resolution and I was sent a copy of the small schools task force and later the UFT sponsored a resolution reaffirming the value of large high schools but not calling for the DOE to stop closing schools.

Now we need to go further. When the DOE brings in an outside agency to review schools and they find Tilden High School is proficient and then soon thereafter it is announced that Tilden will be closing, there is something that doesn’t smell right. Small schools versus big schools is not the issue. The issue is what constitutes a failing school? It’s not only large high schools that are in danger. Schools that have already been redesigned are in trouble. Many of us are being threatened with being closed because we exercise our contractual rights. I have been told that I better tone it down or Klein will come in and shut us down.

What this resolution asks is for the DOE to stop shutting down schools until we can get some fair, independent studies done to assess the effectiveness of newly redesigned schools including examining the impact on neighboring schools. This resolution also asks for the UFT to publicize the need for fully funding all schools but particularly schools that are in trouble so we get what we need to succeed and stop the madness of closing schools, displacing students and staff and then overcrowding other schools where they then are deemed as failing. That cycle must end now.

This is a powerful resolution, with an analysis of the motives behind school closings 3 years before the UFT woke up. And we're still not sure they have. Of course, Unity and New Action ignored what we were saying. If there is a point to making these resos, it is to use them to educate people on the issues. Without putting this up on the ICE blog, the reso is meaningless, since Unity waters them down or rejects them. A fundamental difference between New Action and ICE is that we believe the UFT/Unity machine has to be beat over the head to move, not have a nice chat with them over policy. When we have an army of thousands at our backs we will be able to force change. Otherwise, we are talking into space.


  1. I'm posting this comment by Marjorie Stamberg:

    People have probably heard by now that a judge today overturned the DOE's decision to close 19 schools, including Columbus, Robeson, Jamaica, Maxwell, Norman Thomas, Global Enterprise and many others we have been fighting to keep open. There's a report on NY1 with comments by Mulgrew about how the DOE is still ignoring it.

    In response to the suit by the UFT and the NAACP, the judge said the DOE had failed to take in to account the impact of the school closings on the community. Although the mayoral control law still leaves decision making in the hands of Bloomberg and Klein, instead of with teachers, parents and students -- where it should be-- one of the new regs required the DOE file EISs (educational impact statements). As always, it went through the motions of holding hearings, and then ignored what 99 percent of the speakers said.

    This is a big deal but only a temporary set back for the corporate education "reformers" in the ongoing war over public education. That war goes straight up to the White House (see Obama's praise for firing all the teachers and staff at Central Falls, R.I. high school), and both ruling class parties and leading capitalists like Bill Gates.

    But "the law" is a reflection of the class struggle, and the judge certainly wouldn't have made this ruling if thousands of parents, teachers, students hadn't turn out at the PEP meeting January 26th and at hearings and picket lines for months at the targeted schools.

    Everyone who participated in those protests can feel proud of their contribution to this struggle -- now we must redouble our efforts. In particular, we need to continue to fight to get the UFT to mobilize to stop the racist school closings and charter invasions. This is the opportunity to overcome the divisions between the unions and the minority communities going back to 1968.

    In response to the court decision, the DOE is pulling every trick in the book to circumvent the Judge's ruling. First, it said it will immediately appeal. A few hours later they announced they were going ahead with sending out notices to all 80,000 eighth graders assigning them to high schools for next year. Those who had chosen one of the 19 schools are being sent to other schools. The DOE says it is sending these students a SECOND letter saying that IF the schools remain open, they can re-apply to go there. In effect, this means there will be no 9th grade class at these schools, if the DOE gets away with this.

    This is a blatant defiance of the court, from a crowd that are always ready to use the Taylor Law against us. The judge issued an injunction saying that the DOE could not prohibit enrollment in those schools. But Klein and Bloomberg are going ahead and doing it anyway, creating "facts on the ground." (What is this, Netanyahu building settlements on the West Bank?)

    The UFT says it will go to court to stop Klein, but the DOE letters are going out tonight.
    Tweed and the mayor routinely violate and ignore the law if they don't like it. Witness their misappropriation of funds for lowering class sizes.

    We have a lot of work to do. We have got to get behind the teachers, parents and students at the schools slated for closing, who are on the front lines of a fight that effects us all.

    For more information on the ramifications of this, see Gotham Schools,

    There's a link to the court ruling in the news story on the UFT web site.


  2. And this one from Leonie:

    the video on Fox News makes it sound like the battle won at least for next year and schools will remain open.

    The stories below, however, from GS and Brooklyn Eagle, sound like once again, Chancellor Klein is unchastened and is ready to take the law in his own hands; starting today and tomorrow, he will send out HS acceptance letters as though the court ruled in his favor, assigning not a single student to any of the closing schools. Instead, there will just be a note in the letters that students may later be able to switch later to these other schools, depending on the outcome of the case.

    Schools Chancellor Klein said in a statement late Friday, "Beginning tonight and continuing through the weekend, we will be sending out high school acceptance letters to students’ homes. We anticipate that by mid-week all students will have received their letters.

    No students were initially matched to schools that were slated for phase-out," Klein said. "Depending on the outcome of the appeal of the judge’s decision, those schools might accept new students. As a result, students who applied to those schools will also receive a letter stating that, should the schools remain open, they may select one of them."

    Thus if this accurate it makes a fait accompli that the schools will be empty of students in the fall. Mulgrew says they will ask the court to bar this from happening.

    This is even worse than when Klein lost the lawsuit about closing the neighborhood zoned schools, without approval from the CECs, and subsequently sent letters to all the parents to take their kids out of these schools anyway.

    Also see this:

    from Gotham Schools:

    What happens to the new schools that were supposed to open and replace the closing schools?

    City officials are confident they will still open. Fifteen new schools, including four new charter schools, were set to be co-located in buildings with schools that were going to be phased out.

    Department of Education officials said many of the buildings are already so underutilized that it is likely there will be room for the new schools to open in those buildings anyway.

    “We’re telling them that we’re evaluating, but we expect that there will be room for the new schools next year,” said DOE spokesman Danny Kanner.

    But that ignores the court decision that says these co-locations are illegal, since DOE violated the required process!

    The judge should call Klein in contempt of court, and throw the guy in jail!

  3. It's not surprising that all of the ICE blogs fail to acknowledge Michael Mulgrew and the UFT's role in yesterday's major win.

    Come on guys, this is something we can all be proud of.

  4. We won't be happy until the schools remain open and if that happens we'll be glad to give credit where credit is due.


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