Friday, June 24, 2011

I'm Hot, You're Not: The Longest Day Redux (And I Get Treated Like a Dad)

Boy my behind is behind. Here is a follow-up to Tuesday's (June 21) The Longest Day. And was it long. I got home at 10:30 and fell into a rare full-night's sleep.


HOT Yoga
No, I didn't get to Times Square in time to get a mat (they gave me a piece of cardboard), or even a good spot in any of the 3 main locations for the 12:30 Bikram yoga class. I ended up on the sidewalk in front of the Marriott, gazing wistfully up at my favorite 8th floor bar where we love to get a drink before or after a show while looking down on Broadway.

There had to be thousands of people in 3 or 4 holding areas from 48th St down to 45th. Now, Bikram is HOT Yoga in 100 degree rooms so even though it was warm out, this was fairly light stuff for me. By the end of the hour and a half class I was sweaty but not drenched. Sometime during the class I realized that I could go up to the Marriott bathroom and clean up a bit before my next ventures. And so I did after class ended at 2pm. Here is a video link and another one from my Blackberry.


NAACP/UFT in court
I called Mona Davids from the Marriott to see if they were still at the court house for the UFT/NAACP law suit and I headed down there but all I saw was the NY 1 truck and one of their camera women, so I was too late for the dueling press conferences. At least the NAACP and UFT haven't sold out - yet. (Remember last year how the UFT settled with the DOE during the summer for more resources for the closing schools and spend the year crying about how the DOE violated the agreement - DUH!) I don't know, I smell a sell-out since the DOE/Charter tag team always will win as long as the UFT doesn't get into the full match instead of looking for ways out.

Here is a good report from Leonie:
The courtroom was so full of an army of attorneys for the charter schools today that only five people were initially let in the room who weren’t attorneys or press. Only one of these lawyers actually participated in the arguments, a  Paul Weiss attorney; and he didn’t seem to impress the judge very much.

GS says these firms are representing the charters  for free—two of them representing Eva’s chain. Outrageous that corporate America should represent them for free; where are these law firms when it comes to representing public school parents?  Thank god for Stroock, the UFT ‘s law firm, and Chuck Moerdler, who did an excellent job in court today.

The firms are heavy-hitting corporate practices, all of which are representing the charters pro-bono. They are Kirkland & Ellis LLP (New Visions High School, New Visions School for Advanced Math and Science, Teaching Firms of America, Invictus Prep), Arnold & Porter LLP (Upper West Success Academy), Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP (Bronx Success 1 and 2 and Brooklyn Success), SNR Denton (Explore Excel, KIPP Infinity, Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy 1 and 2 and East Harlem Scholars).
Check out all the stories at Gotham. And I put up Leonie's take-down of Beth Fertig's coverage of the suit on NPR at Norms Notes: Parents Slam NPR Education Coverage

City Hall Press Conference

Next I went over the City Hall for the May 12 coalition press conference with many of the Coalition for Educational Justice groups showing where the money to be saved could be found. A bunch of politicians were there organizing the event. I often have mixed feelings about CEJ stuff for complex reasons (sometimes unseemly ties to the UFT)- as do other activists in NYC - but the work they do has to be supported. The press conference was followed by a march around City Hall Park after which we went over to join the crew at Bloombegville on the corner of Park and Broadway where they are camping out. See some more pics I took below.

I shot some of the press conference but there are vids up on you tube already from others (links will be here when I get them). Here is a short piece that shows the march from City Hall over to Bloombergville on Broadway and Park.

Dad for a day: Julie Cavangh treats
I had a 5PM meeting so I left Bloombergville and headed uptown. After the meeting Julie Cavanagh took me out for a "father's" day dinner of fish 'n chips. She used to introduce me as her advocacy husband but since I'm exactly twice her age "dad" seems more appropriate. Sometimes she refers to me as "grandpa" during my increasing senior moments.

Last summer, Julie asked me what my goal was. I answered, "Finding 50 more like you." I'll take 5.

It is hard to realize that I know Julie less than 2 years since we have done so many projects together. I've proudly watched her go from zero to sixty at super speed as an activist. Her activism stems from her concern for the children and parents she works with - the invasion of PS 15 by PAVE charter school has helped create a force of nature.

A year and a half ago no one knew who she was. Now there is not an event where she is not in demand or an activist who is not in touch with her. She will be in Chicago and Washington DC in July and will begin to play a role in the national stage. Her ability to organize, get things done and lead is unparalleled. And she will also be taking on the job of chapter leader at her school. Oy! She's never attended a Delegate Assembly. This will be fun to watch.

But for all the accolades (Leonie Haimson at the Skinny Awards dinner called her one of only two people she's met who have star power - Diane Ravitch is the other) Julie has also proven to be one of the kindest, most generous, supportive, people I've ever met with some of the best instincts to do the right thing based on moral imperatives that sometimes leave me shameful at my inattentiveness  – her giving me hell for throwing my gum in the gutter because pigeons might choke on it made me feel like a heathen - though a car would get them way sooner than my gum. Now I walk around with gum stuck in my pockets.

While she often mentions me as one of her mentors, I have learned a lot more from her than she has from me (like loving animals as opposed to loving just your own animal). She insists on doing things right and is often a demanding perfectionist  – that doesn't always mesh well with my often slovenly "it's good enough for government work" attitude. She is someone I listen too all the time and she should be credited as the first person to have the ability to shut me up with one look. I'm a proud poppa indeed.

Well, those fish 'n chips were sure good. Too bad she's a veggie or I would have tried to wangle Peter Lugers for next year.

Well, at least Julie has promised to come visit me when I end up in the nursing home. But then again, so has my 93 year old dad who at our visit to his doctor the other day told her his only problem was that he doesn't have a young woman. I reminded him that young to him is a woman in her 80's.

Photos from the City Hall Rally

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