Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cathie Black District 14 Town Hall: No Sex, but Plenty of Lies and Videotape

District 14 Principal Brian De Vale with Teddy Bear pal
Tues., March 1, 8AM

Links to coverage of last night's meeting:
Parents and community members lambasted Chancellor Cathie Black in Williamsburg. (Brooklyn Paper)

I was able to view tonight's events from a different perspective than I usually do since I knew the scene and the players so well, having spent over 35 working in District 14 (Williamsburg/Greenpoint). To me this was a sign that BloomKlein did not totally stamp out the old and bring in the new. But even one of the new Leadership Acad grads who I know (and like very much) seemed to be on our side. See videos in upcoming posts.

I returned to the scene of the crime tonight when I attended the CEC 14 Cathie Black town hall meeting at IS 71, the home of the old district 14 office and the monthly school board meetings where I and other radicals used to question the basic policies of the old school board. It was old home week as I saw so many people from the old days - principals, teachers, parents - even a former student - who now has 2 grandchildren - does that make me a great grand teacher?

And now we were all on the same side - opposing the policies of Black & Bloom. Many of the schools seemed to be represented and anger was pulsing throughout the auditorium.

There was to be no direct questions from the audience but the usual tactic of having people write questions on index cards to keep Black from having to look her questioner in the eye.  I didn't know what to expect from the CEC, which consists of parent leaders. Would they cull the questions to be less confrontational. But they came up BIG, with one question after another directed right at the gut of Black, most of them anti-charter school in nature.

The audience hooted and hollered at Black and her responses and there were pro-unions signs all over the place.

And then Principal and District 14 Council of Supervisors head Brian DeVale took took the mic to confront Black directly., holding a Teddy Bear to symbolize President Theodore Roosevelt who created the civil service system. When he finished, Black said, "Don't I even get the bear?" Brian came up and offered it to her but she told him to give it to a child.

This will be making the news and NY 1's Lindsey Christ was there to get it - so check out her reports. I got all the video too but it will take my a day or more to figure out what to do with so much good material.

After Brian's speech most people left but there was some great stuff to follow.

Question: Do charters have the same disciplinary code as public schools?
Answer: No.

I had some fun with Santi Taveras when he tried to pull a political stunt when he expressed outrage that one question on a card said, "Why can't we fire the kids?" I asked him directly: Don't charter schools fire kids every day? He wouldn't answer.

Another principal asked him directly if he actually believed the PEP was listening to the community or was the question pre-decided. Taveras staked his educational rep on the fact that it was an honest process. The principal looked at him incredulously. Taveras immediately jumped 10 spots up the food chain of dishonest Tweedies.

Here are some pics taken by GEM's Lisa North.

Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: http://normsnotes2.blogspot.com/. And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.


  1. Several members of the schools in the IS 33 building, people from the community and the CEC President spoke against co-locating Brooklyn Success Academy at IS 33 in Williamsburg. Of course Cathy Black and the PEP Puppets (except for two) voted to co-locate irregardless of what they heard tonight. None of the resolutions on schools was tabled or voted against. We all lost tonight. What a sham.

  2. On Monday night, the chancellor spoke to parents, but angry teachers showed up to the meeting in force. Black answered questions the audience submitted on index cards, including one about raises given to central staffers in the Department of Education.

    The chancellor said, "Those raises were mandated. The DOE has not had raises in about two years," and the crowd immediately yelled out statements like "How dare you?"

    "To demonize us and to downplay what roll we play in the community is ridiculous," said teacher Heather de Koning Foley, who attended the meeting. "And to even suggest and to scare us into thinking that we are going to be laid off and we should be running scared is ridiculous, because we are a needed part for a civic organization, for a city to function."

    In a rare move, a principal took to the microphone to directly confront his boss. Principal Brian DeVale of P.S. 257 brought the chancellor a teddy bear, which he said represented President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt's support of unions.

    "With all due respect, I know you are being told from above and it is their policy. We do not need the reverse of 'Last in, first out' [policy] to get rid of bad teachers," said DeVale. "If a teacher is doing a bad job, I know how to get rid of that teacher, as a good principal."

  3. The problem at this meeting was that Cathie Black DID NOT answer any of the questions. She beat around the bush or simply did not know what to say. She told us she was leaving within the hour and proceeded to bore us with a DOE propaganda powerpoint. When she was asked about our special needs children, she fumbled. Someonw called out about general ed and (I para phrase) ahe said that general ed didn't matter. How could anyone in that auditorium NOT be angry at this incompetent Chancellor?


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