Saturday, February 25, 2012

NYT and TDRs, Walcott Meets With WllmsbgComm Reps, Eva Hubbie Invades District 14

There is so much stuff coming in I have to consolidate posts. Follow me on twitter if you want more: normscott1.

All of the reports below connect up --- one thing a union working in our interests would be doing but Unity won't.

Follow the Chicago story -- today Karen Lewis said grief counselors for the children should have been sent to closing schools. So much more on twitter:
Even better is this:

Lewis claims Rahm told her that 25% of the children in this city will never amount to anything, and he's not throwing more money at them
This just about says it all -- the racism behind ed deform. But that requires its own post.

I tweeted this morning - "NY Times excuse for publishing TDRs: The devil made me do it." Leonie pointed to the article today that showed how Cerf and Turf (Joel Klein) just about forced them to FOIL for the info while they refuse to give up stuff to so many FOILs people have given up. I tweeted back that they could have printed this article as a justification as to why they will refuse to allow Tweed to manipulate the press.

FAIR: In today's newsletter--takes the New York Times to task--if the scores aren't accurate why publish them in the first place?

NYT Sues for Right to Publish Bad Teacher Data

The charter school battle in Williamsburg/Greenpoint heats up.

Walcott met with some comunity people last week. It was an interesting meeting where he refused to remove the Moskowitz co-loc from the March 1 PEP agenda. I'll report more on this meeting (with a juicy Walcott quote) when I can.

Parents battle Eva hubby Eric Grannis invasion
This came in from a parent group:

As many of you have heard, District 13 and District 14 are being targeted for the co-location of TWO MORE charter schools. These two charter schools are coming from a Los Angeles charter school chain, Citizens of the World Charter School, that has only been in operation for a single academic year.

Note that all Eric Grannis (Eva Moskowitz's husband) had to do was have a few meetings with a small roomful of affluent parents and now BOTH of our districts must scramble madly to fight TWO more charter schools seeking to co-locate in our public schools.

Here's a link to the Letter we sent to Krupa Desai and SUNY:

We hope you will find this information enlightening and that you pass it along to your colleagues and your school communities.

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Follow us on twitter:!/WAGPOPS


Williamsburg and Greenpoint Parents for Our Public Schools
I'm going to include the letter here below the fold. I urge you to read it. We have to build alliances with every group fighting ed deform.

Dear Krupa Desai,

At the suggestion of your Lead Applicant, we are writing to offer feedback on your proposal to open two Citizens of the World Charter Schools in school district 14, Brooklyn, NY in the Fall 2013.

We object to your proposal for the following reasons:
·      No one knows who you are.  The first charter school in your network has only been in operation for one full school year in the Los Angeles area. Your “Letter of Intent” (LOI) that was submitted to SUNY in January 2012 for your charter school proposals does not reflect any knowledge, insight, or even a scant understanding of our community, its history, and its cultures.

·      There has been no public outreach to date. Aside from posts from your local Lead Applicant and an additional parent seeking market research info on your behalf (“What does your dream school look like?”) on a private, closed listserv of mostly white, affluent residents, there has been no community notification about the schools you propose to open next year.  This is demonstrating a lack of regard for our state’s process for charter issuance, as SUNY RFP Guidance Handbook clearly states:
“...SUNY’s proposal review process must generally ‘consider the demand for charter schools by the community,’ per Education Law § 2852(9-a)(b).”
“Per Education Law § 2852(9-a)(b)(ii), the SUNY Trustees are not to consider any proposal that does not ‘rigorously demonstrate’ that the applicant has conducted public outreach ‘in conformity with a thorough and meaningful public review process’ designed ‘to solicit community input regarding the proposed charter school and to address comments received from the impacted community concerning the educational and programmatic need of students.
“In order for the Institute to recommend any proposal to the SUNY Trustees for approval, the proposal must include evidence that:
The community was informed of the intent to develop a school proposal in a timely fashion;
The community had meaningful opportunities for input on that proposal; and
There was a thoughtful process for considering community feedback and incorporating it into the final proposal.
“Please note that seeking input about the proposal is distinct from seeking support for the proposed school.  While applicants will also be required to show evidence of community interest in and support for the school (response to Request 16(d)), that support alone does not demonstrate that the community was given the opportunity to provide input into the design of the proposed school or how such input was carefully considered by the applicant.”

·      The evidence of community outreach in your LOI is insufficient and narrow. Out of the three Community Based Organizations (CBOs) listed in the Community Outreach Addendum to your Letter of Intent: Greenpoint YMCA, Williamsburg Neighborhood Nursery School, and Padre Kennedy, only the latter is a Head Start Program. There is no copy of the letter sent to Padre Kennedy, no mention if the letter was addressed in English or Spanish, and no name to whom the letter was sent. The letter to the Greenpoint YMCA asked only that the recipient “consider and share with parents as you see fit” the contents of the letter. There was no follow up with any of those three organizations.
Finally, your Community Outreach Addendum claims that your proposals were discussed by community blog authors. This is patently untrue. Williamsburg and Greenpoint have a vocal presence in the online world. There has been no mention on any blogs of these two proposals, let alone a mechanism for feedback on these two proposals.

·      There is no demand for charter schools in our community, save for a vocal minority, some of whom have already enrolled their children in their local schools. The recent two hearings in our district regarding Success Academy Williamsburg showed an overwhelming community opposition to charter network chains like yours. In addition, by the Fall 2012, our district will already have five elementary charter schools.

·      There has been no venue for legitimate feedback on your proposal. Two local parents wrote to you recently to inquire about hearings, information sessions, or any other venue where they could give feedback on your proposals. One parent was told that there would be no more information sessions before the application date, and another was given an evasive non-answer.
Your online “feedback form” is buried way below the fold on an interior page of your new website in a small cropped window that gives no indication of anything below. When finally found, the survey does not provide any opportunity for feedback, as it’s merely pre-selected multiple choice questions designed to collect information for your marketing data. (
Parents have become aware of your intentions because of postings your Lead Applicant made on a private neighborhood listserv. Some parents have repeatedly requested that the Lead Applicant hold public meetings in our community to gain feedback on your two charter school proposals, but he refused. The Lead Applicant also refused to work with our elected officials to arrange a community forum to discuss the proposals, and made it clear that he would not hear from the community at large until AFTER the proposal was accepted by SUNY.  It is our understanding that denying the community the opportunity for feedback before the proposal is submitted is against Education Law § 2852(9-a)(b)(ii).

·      Your information sessions have been exclusive and limited. The only information sessions that your Letter of Intent submitted were held in Schaefer Landing and Northside Piers, two new high-rise condominium buildings populated with wealthy residents. These sessions were not publicized; the only notification was on a small, private email list.
·      Your claim of outreach to low-income housing is not true. According to the Community Outreach Addendum to your Letter of Intent, you claim that part of your outreach was to buildings offering mixed- and low-income housing. Yet the evidence you submit of outreach (sign-in sheets from information sessions) do not support this. Both Schaefer Landing and Nortside Piers are luxury condominiums that maintain affordable housing units for tax abatement purposes. The subsidized portion of these condominiums, including the 80/20 mixed-income housing, are actually housed in separate buildings with separate addresses than the location for your information sessions.

·      Until Eric Grannis and Gideon Stein can explain their interests with Tapestry Project, and their relationship to you and the schools you intend to open next year, our community will have strong doubts about your intentions and theirs. You were introduced to our neighborhood via a newly formed organization with undisclosed intentions. While the Tapestry Project website ( masks its intentions by using a “.org,” in its web address, which it is typically used for non-profit businesses, Tapestry is not a recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit business. Tapestry Project is also not a community based organization (CBO). In fact, as you can see on their website, Tapestry Project is led by the husband of Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz, Eric Grannis, and is chaired by Gideon Stein, a real estate developer and a sitting board member at Success Academy Networks.
Although Eric Grannis originally claimed on a private, closed listserv for Williamsburg parents of young children to be merely volunteering his time to support the cause of bringing new charters to North Brooklyn; and your Lead Applicant has claimed numerous times that Eric Grannis is just acting as a neutral, third-party broker, trying to help people like him open charter schools; and your Lead Applicant repeatedly insists that Eric Grannis and Citizens of the World Charter School have nothing to do with Success Academy, we have recently learned that Eric Grannis is in fact claiming to be the person who is opening the two new Citizens of the World Charter Schools in our district. (
There are many reasons to doubt Eric Grannis’ intentions, abilities, and motivations. Please see, a website developed by Grannis that claims to help parents “find great schools.” On the Schoolfisher site, Grannis uses manipulative tactics, selectively using and at times falsifying data about our community schools in order to advance his agenda of opening more charters. And, of all the charters he chooses to feature on his site, he conveniently only lists the Success Charters that his wife runs and a few others for which he serves on the board.
Regarding Tapestry’s board chair, Gideon Stein, there is also a lot of skepticism about his intentions. In recent years, Williamsburg residents have had numerous contentious battles with the city and real estate developers like Mr. Stein over rezoning. We have also had two hearings this year where an overwhelming number of local parents turned out to protest Success Academy (where Stein serves as board chair) in their proposed co-location at JHS 50. Considering the national trend for charter schools to expand quickly, and for real estate developers to profit handsomely from it, our community has many questions.

·      Your stated goal of opening your schools in the Williamsburg and Greenpoint neighborhoods of our district belies your true intentions.  Applications for charter schools are by district only. Only AFTER your application is approved by SUNY does the DOE assign a location.  It is puzzling that both your Lead Applicant and Eric Grannis made it quite clear that you plan to open in Williamsburg and Greenpoint.  Williamsburg and Greenpoint represent prime real estate in increasingly white, affluent and neighborhoods.  Our district also includes Bushwick and parts of Bed Stuy where there are greater concentrations of people of color. (

·      You have not disclosed who your charter management organization (CMO) will be. According to your board meeting minutes, (, your organization has long had plans for rapid expansion, but in order to do so it needs to partner with an established CMO. Who have you contracted for this work? How is this expansion going to be managed, and who will profit from it?

·      In your first year of operation, you violated conflict of interest laws in your home state of California. According to your governance files, the Citizens of the World board unanimously voted to award a contract to Wonder of Reading, an organization where your board’s chair, Kriste Dragon, works as Executive Director. Although, when questioned by a fellow board member, you withdrew the contract, we have significant doubts about your ability to manage a non-profit, public institution ethically. (
 ·      Your admissions policies in your California schools are highly suspect. New York State law does not allow preference for “founding parents.” The history your charter school network has of embracing that policy is unethical. That you continue to embrace the policy of “founding parents,” offering preferential admission outside of the lottery in exchange for fundraising or working for the school, is unconscionable and demonstrates a blatant disregard for the poorer population you pretend to serve.

 ·      Your financial health is highly questionable.  According to the “New Student Packet” available through your website (, your flagship charter school “depends on significant support from families to sustain our program of small class sizes, teachers’ assistants for every class, art, music and p.e.” amounting to “an average family contribution of $1,300 a year per child.”  With that degree of fundraising required to maintain your promises, your school model does not appear sustainable. You also mention in your minutes (which have not been documented online in recent months) concern about your charter school’s financial future. (
) Further, this tactic shows that you do not understand the pain and reality of those living in true poverty, as many of our District 14 families do.

·      Your continued conflict of interest with Wonder of Reading, an organization with a history of scandal and unaccountability, is unacceptable. Despite your issues in 2010 with Kriste Dragon and Wonder of Reading, your newly formed “national network of charter schools,” Citizens of the World Charter Schools, elected Kriste Dragon as its CEO (, and is operating out of the exact same address as her business, Wonder of Reading ( Considering Wonder of Reading’s history of corruption and unethical behavior, the community does not want Ms. Dragon to manage our public school funds. ( We are very concerned by the ethical impropriety of the $5.2 million contract between Wonder of Reading and CWCS that is scheduled to extend to the 2014-2015 school year: . This, doubled with (founder?) Eric Grannis’ recent financial scandal at another charter network that he founded make it impossible to trust you with our public funds. (
Our district has already seen more than one charter school close as a result of financial mismanagement and ethical scandals. We would be remiss to invite that kind of controversy into our district.

·      Our public schools do not need a lesson in diversity. Williamsburg and Greenpoint do not need more socioeconomically diverse education options.   (  We invite you to closely examine NYC DOE data for our district. You will see that our student populations are already quite diverse.  We have strong solidarity between different groups and cultures in our neighborhood schools for the first time as middle class families are choosing to send their children to local schools rather than to neighboring school districts.
And, while our neighborhood schools are finally representing the diversity of the communities in which they are housed, we are concerned that yours will not.  According to your own meeting minutes, you are not meeting your o

1 comment:

turtlelearning said...

I'm from Los Angeles and fully support your efforts to keep charters out of your district. Ours is being destroyed by them. Kriste Dragon is this charter company -- I personally received a letter on Wonder of Reading stationery written by her explaining her new, wonderful venture in charter schools. Unfortunately, at one time WOR was helpful to some of our elementary schools that badly needed (and still do) new libraries. Christe Dragon had nothing to do with this as she joined WOR when it stopped functioning. The problems with WOR are also in part the result of attacks from a competing "charity". Life is always complicated. Let us hope these people fail both in New York and in Los Angeles -- all they want to do is take public money. Best wishes.
I'm a retired Teacher Librarian, an endangered species.