Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Klein Declared an Emergency, Gets a Press conference protesting expansion of Girls Prep Charter at Expense of Autistic Kids

A bunch of us bloggers attended the press conference today where a group of politicians and parents castigated Joel Klein and his pal the mayor over their decision to override State Ed Commissioner David Steiner's decision to stop the expansion of Girls Prep Charter at the expense of P94, a school for autistic children. Steiner is no hero here. He ruled against our pals in CAPE at PS 15 which has been infested by PAVE charter school, which by the way is linked in numerous ways to Girls Prep. And in his rejection of the Girls Prep expansion he invited Klein to invoke emergency powers to overturn his own decision. He and his henchwoman Meryl Tisch are quite a slick duo. They have managed to escape the slings and arrows of the press after commissioning that study that showed the test scores around the state were bogus. In fact the embarrassment was growing so fast they had no choice.

Manhattan Borough Pres Scott Stringer was the leader of the band and was joined by other politicians, most of whom supported the extension of mayoral control a year ago. Springer told a story of a meeting he held with DOE officials and they made assurances on the Girls Prep issue that satisfied him. A day later, Klein pulled the emergency powers gambit. Stringer seemed pretty frustrated with Klein but kept talking about holding meetings with Tweed. I asked him what is the point if they constantly renege and are willing to break the law. Stringer said nothing can be done until mayoral control comes up for renewal in a few years, though I don't see why not. Every politician should be held accountable for their vote for mayoral control last year.

Daniel Squadron, who really sold out on mayoral control was at the PC.  Here is a section of a piece in the LowDownNYC which calls Squadron out:

The Girls Prep controversy marks the first time the chancellor has invoked his “emergency powers” since Albany renewed mayoral control of New York City’s schools last year. That legislation was the result of a deal brokered by State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and co-sponsored in the Senate by Daniel Squadron.
Last fall, Squadron addressed skeptical parent activists, who were worried the mayor and chancellor would continue (in their view) to ignore community input about local schools. Squadron told them the new law included provisions that would assure DOE accountability to parents. As a co-sponsor of the legislation, Squadron said, he would make sure the Education Department respected the letter as well as the spirit of the law.

 Yeah Squadron. We would have called him out at the press conference but didn't want to ruin the karma. You can read the entire piece at:

At the NYC Parent blog Leonie wrote about the tangled web that connects some charters:
Julian Robertson [whose son Spencer runs PAVE] is in the news recently, not about his efforts on behalf of NYC charters, but because he took the Gates/Buffett billionaire’s pledge to give away most of his money to charity. Why that couldn’t include finding space for the charter schools run by his son and daughter-in-law, so that they wouldn’t have to push out autistic and other high-needs kids from critical space in their public schools is hard to figure out.

Perhaps contributing to his reluctance is the fact that these billionaire hedge fund privateers are intent on “leveraging” their private contributions as much as possible, as one of them, Whitney Tilson, pointed out in the NY Times article:
“It’s the most important cause in the nation, obviously, and with the state providing so much of the money, outside contributions are insanely well leveraged,” he said.

Julian Robertson is also a philanthropist who is awfully good at avoiding to pay NYC taxes, even to the extent of hiring a social secretary to keep track of how many days he should stay out of the city each year.

Why did Girls Prep want to expand in the first place? See the SUNY charter center fiscal dashboard, which shows that this school had recently moved into dangerous territory fiscally speaking, and most likely wanted an infusion of taxpayer funds generated by higher enrollment, without having to dip into the hefty pockets of their board members or Spencer’s generous father.
Read it all here:

The tangled web of influence behind Klein's decision to allow the expansion of Girls Prep charter to go forward
I taped the entire press conference and am processing some of it now. You can see ABC's Art Mcfarland's report here:

Press conference protesting Klein's "emergency" expansion of Girls Prep Charter school

I've been working with GEMers on a short video addressing this particular issue and its broader implications and we expect to release it in a day or two on you tube.

As I said there were some bloggers there and I'm not sure I can say things any batter than them. So here are some reports I've seen so far.

South Bronx teacher was in the house and asked a question about moving autistic kids -  he has a report here: Emergency Powers


Anonymous said...

Shouldn't the Robertson/Bloomberg connections be a front page article in our UFT papper?
OOps! forgot- we cant say anything bad about Mulgrew's good buddy becauae then he will get upset and not give us the four double zeros.

jhonstatham said...

I taped the entire press conference and am processing some of it now. You can see ABC's Art Mcfarland's report here: