Friday, August 27, 2010

Parents Across America Fight Ed Deform

Here are comments from two of my favorite NYC parent activists- Lisa Donlan and Leonie Haimson. Leonie has joined in a nationwide parent network to resist ed deform called Parents Across America.

They wrote a letter to Obama which appears on the Washington Post. I won't reprint the letter but here are some of the people who signed on that I know of: Oakland's Sharon Higgins (who I had the honor of introducing to Leonie and Lisa at a lunch I organized last December) and Caroline Grannan in San Francisco. And I see Dora Taylor from Seattle who I think I met at the CORE party at the AFT convention. And I know of Chicago's Julie Woesthoff's work with PURE.

I'm thinking if we teachers do our part to educate our colleagues on the issues, organize them into an active force despite UFT co-optation and develop the ability to mobilize people  along the lines of the way the Tea Party has been doing so successfully, and then join with these kinds of parents, the ed deformers will be on the run. Just do it!

Here, Lisa responds to an email Leonie sent out which I posted on Norms Notes:

DOE is eliminating the EGCSR program

I love Lisa's referring to the ed deformers as "the new status quo."

From Lisa Donlan

Hang on- do I understand this correctly?

Essentially this DoE has taken state money that was allocated for a well proven strategy- small class size in the early grades ( K-3) and is allowing principals to spend those funds on anything they want?
In a recession that has forced schools to reduce staff and cut programs well past the bare bones?

Are all the pundits and pols out there who believed mayoral control would raise academic achievement, bring about greater transparency, equity, and standardization by removing corruption, uneven local management and priorities, increase funding to the schools and remove political agendas and tug-o-wars from our school system PAYING ANY ATTENTION?

Is mayoral, control making good on its promises? Has education in NYC improved these past 8 years?
I really want to know what I am missing from those of you who still believe!

This fish stinks from the head down- ever hear John White talk about how he taught science from a cart?

These guys will one day soon regret their inhumane experimentation with our kids along with the use of  cooked books to justify their games, constructs and best guess theories.

But at the cost of too many children's "health, well being and education"  for too long.

This "new status quo"  has wasted billions on new fangled ideas and reorganizations, vendors and cronies; has  not improved outcomes, raised achievement or closed the achievement gap;  but instead  has brought us to a true state of education emergency.

All our kids need saving at this point!

Come tell it to the PEP on Monday!

Lisa Donlan

From Leonie Haimson

1. I will be speaking tomorrow at the Coalition for Public Education annual conference, Sat. August 28, from 1-3 PM; at DC 37 headquarters; 125 Barclay St.  The entrance is on Murray and the West Side Highway, map here; directions here: More information about the conference is here.  Please join us!

2. Sec. Duncan’s education priorities, which are driving those throughout the country, including many of the test-based accountability systems we have seen fail here in NYC, are very unpopular among voters.  And it’s hurting Obama:  See new poll results here: 59 percent give the president a C, D, or F for his education policies; worse than his ratings overall.

For those of you who thought that NY State’s winning the Race to the top money would help improve classroom conditions, no such luck.  That money is supposed to be spent primarily on more of the same: more data collection, more testing, and more teacher evaluation and merit pay based on test scores.

3. We have formed a national network of parents to work for more positive education reforms, called Parents Across America, and our new letter to Obama is reprinted in today’s WaPost Answer Sheet at ; I also reprint it below.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

Remember the federal education jobs bill that was passed a couple of weeks ago?  It was supposed to give $200 million to NYC schools so they could hire more teachers, prevent sharp increases in class size for this coming school year and provide economic stimulus besides?

Unfortunately, at this point, the administration has signaled that they want to keep $170 million unspent to save for next year, despite an expected jump in 18,000 students and a loss of 2,000 teaching positions in our public schools this fall.  They have also cancelled their Early Grade Class Size Reduction program, which had existed since 1999, and which they promised to keep as part of their citywide class size plan in their “Contracts for Excellence.”  This program was designed to hire extra teachers and keep classes to twenty or less in grades K-3.

 If class sizes are huge when your child enters school in a couple of weeks, you know who to blame.

Our letter to Obama is below; if you agree with its sentiments you can send your own message at

More soon,

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters

Dear President Obama...Sincerely, Parents Across America

Following is a letter about education policy being sent to President Obama from parents representing a number of organizations across the country. It is a followup to a May letter sent about Obama's Blueprint for Reform, which you can find here.

Read it at:


What Goes Around said...

If publishing teachers' names is what they want, then blowing the whistle on corrupt principals is what they will get also. The sheetrock will really hit the DOE fan.

Anonymous said...

Yes Norm, we met at the CORE party in Seattle at the AFT Convention.

That was a great party by the way. It was quite a pleasure to meet Karen Lewis and all of the other teachers from Chicago. It was a warm, generous and energetic group.

I wrote a post about that and the following day when we picketed the Arne Duncan event in Seattle.


Best wishes and I hope to see you again in the near future.