Thursday, April 15, 2010

Charter School Invasion Hearings, A Change in Charter School Tactics and UFT Ambivalence

Someone asked what the purpose of the UFT demos are given that the UFT charter schools have invaded schools themselves. If they are part of a building process, that's great. If only a photo-op for the NY Teacher than a waste of time.

PS15/PAVE charter school hearing: April 14, 2010

Last night was the third PS 15/PAVE charter school invasion hearing where the parents and teachers at the school was powerful. CEC15 President Jim Devore grilled the DOE reps intensely for a half hour and it was fun to watch the squirming. PS 15 teachers and parents are beginning to reach out directly to their counterparts at PAVE, with one intention being to invite the PAVE teachers, some of whom do not seem all too happy in the Spencer Robertson stable, to go union. That ought to be fun. In the meantime, some disgruntled PAVE parents and CAPE have been meeting. That ought to be just as much fun. We had a few GEMers there last night to support the PS 15 crew. CAPE's Julie Cavanaugh sent out this to the supportive community:
Tonight was a huge victory. PAVE was demoralized, we were united, strong, effective, researched and informed, passionate, and on point. You all amaze me and I am so proud to stand with all of you. Thank you everyone for your sacrifice, for your words, for your commitment...Onward and upward... PEP...HERE WE COME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The next legal battle... bring it on!!!! My deepest love, gratitude and caped appreciation,
Julie is right. PAVE brought in an architect/consultant to talk about the new $40 million plus school (the DOE is putting up $26 million). She watched in horror as the passions flew. I told her she better break ground tomorrow. Boy, did the PAVE gang pick the wrong place to invade.

I have lots of video for future archiving - we may make a film at some point - but if I get a chance I will put up some of the great stuff that was said.

PS 123/Harlem Success hearing: April 12, 2010

I was at the rousing PS 123/Harlem Success invasion hearing on Monday April 12 and it's been wonderful to see this Harlem school community get themselves organized. The teachers and parents did an amazing job. They even had posters made up of the Klein/Moskowitz letters. GEM has been involved since the end of the last school year and was there with our banner this time too. I have about an hour of video and am working on a 10 minute segment which will be posted hopefully by tomorrow (today is wife appreciation day and a celebration of our tax refund).

A change in charter school strategy

The absence of charter school parents and teachers at both hearings was noticeable. This seems to mark a new strategy - charter schools around the city often work under a joint plan. They now seem to be keeping their parents away from these hearings. Why bother? They know these hearings have no impact. In addition, some of the charter school parents may have been affected - and infected- by the host schools' passionate defense.

The PEP to endorse the invasions will take place next Tuesday (Apr. 20 at 6pm) at Prospect Heights HS campus in Brooklyn. We know that the public schools will be out there. Will the charter schools feel it necessary to organize their troops (with buses and pizza and who knows what else) for the PEP when it is a fait accompi? (Repeat this 5 times and see if it has a beat.)

Is Moaning Mona turning into Magnificent Mona?

If you've been following the chronicles of charter school independent parent Mona Davids, who started out attacking teachers and declaring out and out support for any invasion, we have seen a recent change in direction as she has come out for more transparency and rights for parents in charter schools. Mona was at both the PS 123 and PS 15 hearings (we must stop meeting like this, Mona). Shifting alliances are in the works and though some people are still mistrustful, we have hope for Mona. I have some good video of her at Leonie's Class Size Matters parent workshops last Saturday. We are not totally converted yet, but how long will it be before we officially dub her "Magnificent Mona?"

Where is the UFT?
As far as I could tell there was no UFT presence to support the PS 123 community, but I left early. GEM, on the other hand, had a strong presence and has developed an excellent relationship with the 123 community and some other schools in Harlem. The Coalition for Public Education (CPE) also came out in support (GEM and the CPE are developing strong lines of communication.)

There was a bit of UFT presence with District 15 rep Bob Zuckerberg making a tepid statement that there should be a cap on the time PAVE could spend in the school. Not exactly an attack on the invasion. He brought along NY Teacher ace reporter Jim Callahan and a photographer. So look for a UFT spread on the event. I have video and will put something up when I get some time.

The ambivalent nature of the UFT response to charter school invasions is obvious, given that two UFT charter schools have invaded space in public schools (George Gershwin MS which I went to is one).

With Harlem being the epicenter of the invasions, there seems to be a stronger UFT response coming with this announcement from District 5 UFT rep Dwayne Clark. Is this the usual UFT holding action to give the impression of a response to keep GEM and the CPE from making inroads? Or is it a legitimate turn in direction regarding charter schools on the part of the UFT? Or are we seeing a local action on the part of Dwayne Clark who must clearly be perturbed at what is happening to the schools in District 5? (Last summer a retired UFT District Rep was at the rallies). Note the language used below borrows from GEM by calling it a "charter school invasion" instead of the DOE term "co-location" the UFT has been using.

Can GEM, the CPE and the UFT work together on these charter school issues? GEM member Antoine Bogard is the chapter leader at PS 197 and is supportive of this UFT initiative. While I don't think the leadership is changing direction (the UFT charters are like any other avaricious charter and looking to expand), I do think that we all can work locally together. The GEM ally CAPE group in PS 15 has maintained a good relationship with the UFT with the idea that they will take all the support they can get in their battle against Goliath.

I am curious why PS 241 and PS 30, which both have HSA Evil Mousekawitch schools in them, are not included.



@ 7:15 A.M.


Chapter Leaders of PS 175, PS 92, CAH, PS 194, PS 197, PS 123, and PS 133:

The UFT is engaging in an action on Monday, April 19th in the morning before school begins. We are asking that your school have at least 3 - 5 members leaflet outside your school because you have a Charter school in your building or geographically located near your school. This campaign does not involve the entire District but your school was selected. I will be providing you with flyers at Friday's Chapter Leaders meeting for Monday morning distribution. Please start speaking to your members to volunteer to leaflet outside your school. Your support in this endeavor is greatly appreciated. I will see you on Friday.


Dwayne Clark, UFT District 5 Representative
52 Broadway- 10th floor
New York, NY 10004
212-598-6800- work
212-510-6424- fax

PS 197M: 2230 Fifth Ave/135th St; Train #2 to 135th St.

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