But if you want an insight into the kind of gut work James has done at the school, read a tribute from a staff member who left this comment on the ICE blog:
Why was Jamaica singled out for destruction? I think the main goal is union-busting and making an example of a powerful chapter. As chapter chairman, you conducted yourself with lawyerly professionalism and integrity. You know the rules and the contract and stand loyally at the side of every staff person, popular or not. Whatever problems we as a staff had with students or with politicians, I was always proud to work in your school. You kept us united, as united as an opinionated staff can be, and focused on our goals and methodology for enabling students have conditions under which they could best learn. Everyone respected you and your systematic way of standing up for our rights individually and as a school.By the way, Seung Ok from another closing school, Maxwell Vocational in Brooklyn, wrote a maginificent piece that is getting nationwide recognition and it may appear in the Washington Post blogs today. He was excessed and is now teaching at another school. He has worked with GEM at various times during the last year. I posted his piece at Ed Notes last week:
Remember on one issue how 50 of us went to the Queens Office and packed a conference room to show our stand? It was powerful adn effective. We won that issue. I wonder if that made us more of a thorn in the side of the BOE/DOE. Post hoc ergo procter hoc? Perhaps that aroused the ire of the bean-counters who wish us to always genuflect at their dicta.
So it could be that the DOE's determination to destroy Jamaica HS is simply one more event in the ruthless union-busting crusade of the Business world's invasion of our hapless schools. They are creating New Schools that meet their requirements: administrators with no experience, no independence for teachers to maintain their professionalism without fear of peremptory dismissal, staffing with largely new teachers who can be easily excessed and fired, focus on numbers numbers numbers, just like they bean counters learned in business school.
So, James, it could be that the DOE sees you as I do, as a Fearless Leader, capable and beyond corruption. Their determination to bust our chapter could ultimately be their highest tragic compliment to us and to you.
So I sign off with love, respect, appreciation and the highest regard. I wish the best to you and to Camille and your child. Thank you. I will always be, like the rest of our staff, proud to have worked with you. Maybe some of us took you for granted, but I never did. We were all fortunate to work with you.