Sunday, August 29, 2010

CPE Convention Thoughts

Aug. 29, 2010, 7am

Background info: Coalition for Public Education (CPE) Convention Sat. Aug. 28

It seems I just rolled in from the day's events yesterday and in a sense that is almost true. I decided to drive into Manhattan for some crazy reason and had loads of trouble finding a place to park. I almost gave up and pulled into a lot but luckily asked how much for the day. "$47," I was told and I pulled right back out. I finally found a spot on some place called Herbert St. and had a long walk back to Barclay St. for the convention. But what a pleasant walk along Greenwich St. on a wonderful sunny day, past numerous restaurants with sidewalk cafes.

I got to the DC 37 building around 11:30 while Assemblywoman Inez Barron (wife of Councilman Charles) was speaking. As usual she makes so much sense it makes your hair hurt. She was a teacher and principal and besides all her political insights I find her analysis of the curriculum that is being forced down teachers and students throats in Test Prep, USA very enlightening. Barron has a vision of how students should learn and how a school should work. I also loved what she said about discipline. Talking about some of the insane "gotcha" policies today, she said, "We did what we had to do," she said. "But first we made sure the parents were on board."

Bill Perkins makes an appearance 

Harlem State Senator Bill Pekins, who held hearings on the abuse of charter schools (I taped about 7 hours) and has become the leading target of charter schools, hedge fund millionaires and the NY Post, was there in the afternoon. They dug up someone named Basil Smickle to run against Perkins. Read my posts of last week on Smickle campaign contributions from hedgehog funders:

NY Post's Carl Campanile underestimated Smikle's charter lobby contributions
NY Post's Carl Campanile Discovers Dem Who Opposes Perkins, Ignores Hedge Contributions

Perkins is not popular in parts of Harlem for complex reasons, so he is not a shoo-in. And he does have flaws. But if he loses to Smickle no politician will stand up against the charter school lobby and Eva Moskowitz, who is using her charter school parents as shock troops against Perkins, will be the big winner.  So, if there is one campaign you contribute to make it Perkins. And if you have time, check in with his campaign and volunteer. Tired and busy - just think of Evil Moskowitz and Joel Klein gloating. Or just look at this picture - again and again. Some Perkins links: here and Mona Davids endorsement  and here. [I'll be doing more on the Perkins/Smickle race soon.)

There was mucho schmoozing going on all day. Some of the GEM film crew were there doing interviews for the film we are doing. I interviewed Sam Anderson of the CPE and Black Educators, who way too many people are not aware of. I don't know him personally and have only had limited contact with Sam but he is always so incredibly articulate and knowledgeable I can talk to him forever. But he had duties to take care of for the convention so we only had a brief interview. I am going to meet him in Brooklyn and he is going to give me a tour around the public school that is being closed and also the new charter school going up nearby to replace it.

Then I spoke to Harlem parent activist Bill Hargraves. See Bill in action leading a walkout at a Harlem Success Academy so-called public hearing - Bill always drops loads of goodies.

Finally, I managed to corale Magnificent Mona Davids, the charter school parent activist who has been demanding parent rights. She had some important things to say. So much great footage, so little time. (Her endorsement of Perkins made news.)

I was on an afternoon panel with Leonie Haimson, Special ed parent activist Patricial Connelly and the legendary Jitu Weusi of 1968 strike fame (and beyond). This part of the CPE event will need a separate post.

Outside Schmooze
As often happens, the follow-up to these events often turns out as interesting as the event itself. A large group gathered outside towards the end - around 4:30 - and just kept chatting. It seems ed activist are so wrapped up they can't stop. Lots of fun talking about the security we will face at the upcoming PEP meeting on Monday night (at LaGuardia HS near Lincoln Center.)

We finally broke up and I was walking with 2 parent activists (who shall remain nameless). They said they were getting something to eat and I who can't miss a meal hogged my way in. It was around 5pm.

When we left the diner at 8PM we had laughed our way through salads and burgers and some fabulous sharing of info. Boy do I get gossip, but of course they would have to kill me if I spilled.

I wasn't through yet it seems. I got a call from my wife's 20-something cousins who were taking the ferry from New Jersey to meet some of their cousins in Chinatown. So after a long walk to my car, I spent a half hour stuck in traffic getting there. Luckily one of the parents came along so we could continue to plot - 3 hours just isn't enough, you know. I finally connected with my relatives around 9pm. Their 5 cousins from Florida, Long Island and Manhattan joined us.

So now I wsa surrounded by 7 twenty somethings with platter after platter of delicious food coming out. There were 2 teachers amongst them, one of them at a private school in Manhattan, so there was some ed talk, but mostly sports- thank goodness.

"Didn't you just eat," some of you might ask? Never stopped me - notice my belly when you see me. But at least I didn't join them at the follow-up half-nighter in a bar.

I rolled home at 11pm when my wife reminded me I had to go feed my friend's cat.

No matter how hard I tried, Oreo wouldn't discuss ed deform.

As always, there were a batch of GEM and ICE people at the CPE - I counted at least 7-  to show support. GEM and Ed Notes shared a quarter page ad in the CPE journal. There is some irony in that at least one of the active CPE folk is connected to New Action, which as usual had no presence. At one point this past year before the UFT election there was some unfriendly fire directed at James Eterno.
New Action head Michael Shulman was later invited to speak to a CPE meeting, part of the Unity/New Action campaign to disparage ICE. It was something I was not happy that the CPE allowed this underhanded stuff to take place at the time and still am wary of that element of the CPE. I don't hold it against the CPE, but I hope the hypocrisy is noted.

Double Burn
I have to miss my acting class this morning. One of my frat brothers' daughters is getting married at 11:30 in Long Island. Last week I auditioned for one of the card playing roles in The Odd Couple at the Rockaway Theatre Co's December production.

I originally was going to go for Murray the cop but he seemed too affable.

When I read the part of the nasty, sarcastic, wise cracking Speed, I said "Eureka."


reality-based educator said...

Just watched The Odd Couple on TCM a few weeks ago. Great fun! Which character is Speed? Is he Oscar's accountant?

ed notes online said...

Roy is the accountant and Murray is the cop. Speed is the guy with the cigar blowing smoke. I saw the movie the other week too and really liked that character. Brings the same attitude RBE that you bring to analyzing Obama.

reality-based educator said...

I met John Fiedler, one of the actors from both the movie and the show (also the voice of Winnie the Pooh) once about 10 or 12 years ago. He was very sick and frail looking, so I didn't bother him. But I wanted to say to him I really enjoyed that movie and the card game scenes.

"What time is it?"

"I'm $75 dollars down, that's what time it is!"

Always puts a smile on my face to see that movie.

ed notes online said...

Come see the play whether I'm in it or not. I will videotape it and maybe put up that scene on you tube.