Thursday, August 19, 2010

Parents and Teachers Prepare for the Gathering Storm

I reported on Tuesday's meeting called by CEJ - one of the leading parent organizing forces in NYC - in yesterday's post (CEJ Front and Center). Parent and teacher activists from around the city were at that meeting. That so many major NYC politicians like DiBlasio and Liu showed up is a sign of CEJ's growing influence.

Last night many of the same forces - minus the politicians - came together again on the upper west side to hash over where things stand on building a movement to not only challenge BloomKlein but to build an alternative vision of ed reform. Organizations and individuals. Teachers, parents, community activists. Some I met for the first time. The intelligence and commitment in the room was like a force of nature.

Naturally the CEJ-led PEP disruption of Monday night was a backdrop to discussions of short-term and long-term goals.

As someone who is an activist and a semi-journalist/muckraker/nudge and general pain in the ass, I have to be careful about reporting on a meeting like this so I will say very little. I won't even identify the organizations or individuals but I can say that GEM and ICE (you know - those do nothings that Unity and New Action always talk about) were in the house with a bunch of people.

Some people want to focus on programmatic issues - gaining support from politicians, what can be won from the DOE to provide support for students and parents, etc. While others support this they also want to go further. I won't go into details yet as we wait to see how things develop.

Should BloomKlein be worried? I won't go that far yet. Up to now they have successfully managed to buy off and divide many parent and community activists while also defanging the UFT.

So a coalition of activist parent organizations and those representing teachers not under the thumb of the UFT, along with individuals is not an easy thing to put together. But the group decided to meet again next week, a very good sign.

As important as the meeting from my perspective, was the dynamic group of parents, teachers and activists that hung out at a pizza joint on Columbus Ave. after the meeting. There were howls of laughter that practically stopped traffic as people came up with one idea after another on doing creative things at meetings and on you tube.

The fun continued down in the subway as we laughed all the way home.

I came home and crashed at 1am only to find that people had gone home and continued to send put hilarious ideas through the night.

I know we are all nuts, but this war against the ed deformers is becoming a passion for a lot of people and new troops are signing on all the time.

It is one thing to attend a meeting, but real unity is often fashioned in the social aftermath where people begin know and trust each other. Last night was such a building block.

After burn 2
I can't believe how many parents are taking their kids out of charter schools. One parent said last night: It is better to home school your child than leave him in that school. Look for this to become  a big story in the upcoming year. The counter revolution has begun.


Anonymous said...

For the first time I am hopeful that things will change for the better.

Anonymous said...

Norm, you are being modest... the DOE should be VERY worried. Hello, Klein and Bloomberg... your legacy is calling and I'm a little upset!