Wednesday, August 18, 2010

CEJ Front and Center

"The NYC Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ) is organizing a parent-led movement for educational equity and excellence in the city’s public schools. We are a citywide collaborative of community-based organizations and unions whose members are parents, community residents and teachers. Together, we are fighting to ensure that every child in NYC receives a quality and well-rounded education."
Few news reports on the closing down of the PEP meeting for the first time in history gave credit to the
Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ) for being the force behind the organizing effort that brought out over 100 parents and community activists to the meeting. (See my videos here and here and -----one more uploading later).

Monday night's events are a strong sign of CEJ's recent activity where they seem to be trying to take the lead in forming a broader citywide parent coalition than exists within CEJ (already a coalition of groups - see About us).

Love 'em or hate 'em

The more I talk to people about CEJ the more contradictory reports I get. One of my best ICE/GEM pals works with them and has a lot of praise for the work they do. Other activists out there are not so sanguine. I have had little contact with them so I don't know much.

They are backed by the Annenberg Institute or some offshoot. That means some funding and other organizational support. Meetings are held at their headquarters. I don't know the exact relationships. My friend tells me they have brought together some fantastic parent activists from various boroughs. People really rooted in their communities.

CEJ developed a relationship to the UFT. The ed deformers try to paint them - as they do any actions against them - as tools of the UFT. I don't know exactly how deep this goes. If someone checks a recent LM-2 they might find some UFT funding. I haven't had time. I commented in my reports of the PEP meeting that the UFT seemed to have zero presence. Does that mean that had no behind the scenes role? Don't know. The kind of militancy exhibited seems so far from where the UFT has been.

St. Vartas Church 2007 event recalled
There is some distrust of CEJ due to the famous deal they and the UFT made with Tweed in April 2007 that seemed to kill what looked like a major opposition forming against BloomKlein as a result of the St. Vartas Church meeting of Feb. 28, 2007 where a call went out for a massive May 1 demo against Tweed. Many feel that if that rally had taken place politicians wouldn't have been so willing to go along with the renewal fo mayoral control two years later.

It was clear that the move to kill May 1 was led by Randi and the UFT - see, they don't only sell out teachers. But CEJ took some hits from other Tweed resisters who wanted more militancy.

St. Vartas Retrospective
Leonie introduced me to Diane Ravitch February night - I filmed a brief interview with Diane but the noise was deafening - and to Patrick Sullivan (who I only knew from the blogosphere). I had been bugging Leonie to start blogging and she happily informed me Patrick was going to get it going. The wonderful NYC Parent blog was the result.

I filmed part of that amazing event and put some up on you tube.

NYC City Councilman Robert Jackson at Feb. 28 Rally

Tim Johnson Critique of BloomKlein Reorganization Scheme

I never really wrote it up in a way that would give us a useful historical perspective from my point of view. But one of Leonie's first posts on the new blog was an excellent summary:

Rally to Put the Public Back into Public Education

Here are a few of my posts in the aftermath of the deal in April 2007 - which many characterized as a sell-out.

Say It Ain't So Martine
Deal Announced on Reorganization: Did BloomKlein Blink?
A unique opportunity has been missed

Has CEJ taken a lesson from the St.Vartas/May 1 events?

It certainly seems like they have. Remember that in March 2007 BloomKlein were reeling and were willing to deal. So CEJ got something out of it. But over the last few years Tweed has turned deaf ears to them. So they have begun to ramp up their activities.

Yesterday (Tuesday, Aug. 17) they held a meeting where many politicians showed up, including major future mayoral candidates Bill DiBlasio and John Liu.

I didn't attend but reports are filtering in, both pro and con. DiBlasio seemed to turn people off with his "let's not look back and play the blame game - we have to look forward" position. Sure, Bill, tell that to Tweed who play the blame game every minute of the day - as long as they are not the ones being blamed.

Brooklyn Assemblyman Hakim Jeffries was the one who really seemed to galvanize the crowd with a much more militant stance. He wants Tweed to be held accountable (the Assembly will be holding hearings) and put forth a "those who live by the accountability sword should die by the accountability sword."

There were lots of others there, including Carol Gerstl from the UFT. She was/is Randi's counsel at the UFT - in essence she holds/held - who knows what's going on there - the same position Randi was hired for when she came to the UFT. One of our Unity moles claim she is Randi's eyes and ears and reporting back on Mulgrew and his crew. Was her presence there as an observer or as the UFT point person?

Is CEJ organizing for the long term or angling for another deal with Tweed?

Ahhh. That is the question of the day. We do know that if the UFT is involved deeply they don't want any militancy and will go for any crumb Tweed puts on the table - a knish would suffice.

So, yes, there is some suspicion out there about motives. Other parent groups are hesitant to jump on board with full support until there are clear signs CEJ is willing to stay the course and engage in a battle to put a stake through the heart of mayoral control once and for all.

We know where the UFT stands - they will bluster and blather - but will support mayoral control no matter what they say.

IS CEJ willing to go in a direction radically different than where the UFT wants them to go? That will be the million dollar question.

Some parent/community groups are not willing to wait for an answer. Thus there is another meeting called for tonight. CEJ will be there as one of the 25 or so groups (including GEM) that are taking part. I'll be back with some reports tonight or tomorrow.

Meanwhile, here are some links on CEJ

web site


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