Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dee Alpert's Voice Will be Missed

The educational resistance community lost a stalwart voice yesterday when we sadly learned of the death of Dee Alpert who had been a frequent contributor to the NYCEducation listserve moderated by Leonie Haimson. I never met Dee and only had a few conversations with her but her depth of knowledge and her analysis of the issues (no matter whether you agreed or disagreed with her), along with a no-holds bar approach, made an impression on everyone on the listserve. Her no-nonsense approach and her ability to zero in on the essence of an issue was unparalleled along with her knowledge of institutional historical context. One particular area of Dee's expertise was the corrupt state education department - and if you didn't start out thinking they were corrupt, it didn't take Dee long to convince you. I used to forward some of her posts to a contact at the DOE and the comment on hearing the news was, "Sorry to hear this sad news-This was a brilliant woman." I was about to send her some information as a follow-up to the Dinappoli report on dropouts and I know she would have taken that ball and run with it. It was Dee who persistently kept raising questions about why that report was delayed. There are so few voices fighting the ed deformers and Dee will be sorely missed by The Resistance.

Leonie put up a Dee Alpert We Will Miss You blog, including a link to a 2007 interview with Dee about how she first became involved in special education advocacy and is inviting people who knew her or her work to post comments.

Here is one of Dee's last posts. I think it captures the essence of Dee Alpert:
Report of the Regents Task Force on Teacher and Principal Effectiveness April 4, 2011 -
http://www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings/2011Meetings/April2011/RegentsTaskforceonTeacherandPrincipalEffectiveness.pdf

Above you will find a wonderful Regents document - to be considered at its meeting Mon. April 4 and Tues. April 5; uploaded to the Regents web site for public review on April 4.  All 111 pages of it!
While there may well be many things wrong with this overly-lengthy document, one fatal flaw stands out:  the word "parent" is absent from it.  Apparently the fact that parents supply the children who make the NYS education go and pay the taxes to grease its wheels means nothing to these people.

NYSED and the Regents have gotten worse and worse in terms of: a) including parents in anything, and b) making materials available to the public in advance of Regents' actions on their contents since Merryl Tisch ascended to the throne of Chancellor of the Board of Regents.  This trend, however, has even worsened more since David Steiner became Commissioner of Education.

With all due respect - and absolutely none is due - you all can argue fine points of policy, decimals in school appropriations and centimeters in co-location decisions until you're quite blue in the face and ... it won't mean one darn thing because what you think is of no concern to these people at all.  You're supposed to give them your children ... and your tax dollars ... and shut up.  Want more testing?  Less testing?  No testing?  They don't care and unless something is done about this totally deplorable situation, don't have to.  Talk about high-handed arrogance!  Take a look at the rest of the meeting agenda items here:  http://www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings/2011Meetings/April2011/411monthmat.html.  New testing systems; new tests; new high school science lab requirements ... you name it, they're changing it ... without your input.  Under some rock!

I think you all should pick up your phones first thing tomorrow morning and: call Andrew Cuomo's office and your state legislators (both of them!) and tell them that you're mad as hell and have no intention of taking it anymore.  And that if every single thing on the Regents' agenda for this meeting isn't held up until their May meeting, and then only after the final version of each item has been publicly posted for at least 10 business days prior to the start of that meeting, and a similar procedure followed for every single agenda item at every single meeting thereafter, you'll pound on your legislators to vote against every single appropriation related to the NYS public education system again and again and again.  And bullet vote against any legislator who doesn't go along with you (parents, the public) on this.

It's time to get it clear:  all these people care about is money; all these people understand is money, and the only way to make them straighten up and fly right is to grab the strings to their money bag and pull 'em totally tight.

Dee Alpert

2 comments:

  1. I only had a few back and forth email convos with her, but I was thoroughly (understatement) impressed with the depth of knowledge she demonstrated. I am very sad that I will not be able to have those in the future. She was very willing to engage in honest conversation.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beyond the personal issue of her loss, there is the need for people like Dee who was willing to work tirelessly to uncover the foibles and follies of ed deform. She had not even scratched the surface of the in depth research that will be so necessary. There really is no one like her.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Comment moderation is on, so if your comment does not appear it is because I have not been at my computer (I do not do cell phone moderating). Or because your comment is irrelevant or idiotic.