Thursday, December 12, 2013

Rosalie Friend Reports on Ravitch and Farina at PS 15

Excellent report from Rosalie as a follow-up to the report I received yesterday (Carmen Farina Introduces Diane Ravitch at PS 15K Community Library Opening).
And by the way, for those who don't get what school-based organizing is all about, check out an expert like Julie Cavanagh.
From Rosalie Friend to Change the Stakes Listserve:
At the presentation at PS 15, Carmen Farina seemed to back Diane's assertion that we need to return to a district system in which district supervisors are responsible for neighborhood schools. Carmen spoke of the importance of providing a GOOD school for every child in every neighborhood.
Diane spoke about the influence of private money in politics and school decisions. She cited an upcoming conference on how to make money in public education. She mentioned the methods the corporate "reformers" are using to minimize the cost of teachers' salaries. She also said that as she travels to schools around the country she finds a lot of fraudulent financial dealings among the charters.
I asked about whether we should be tackling Common Core when we have such a big challenge in getting rid of high stakes tests and getting small classes, support services like social workers, psychologists, and nurses, and effective programs like reading recovery. She responded that common core was going to drain resources from everything else, because of the need to buy huge amounts of computer equipment and services. The tests for the Common Core are going to be administered on computers. She also criticized the idea of having computers grade essay questions (one of my pet peeves).
Diane said she is hoping that Bill de Blasio will be the leader who will challenge the free market approach and the corporate "reformers." Jim Devor, who knows de Blasio from the District 15 school board, was much much less hopeful, though he did not give any specifics.
The audience was a mix of teachers, parents, and community members. Many were local, but there were several from Manhattan and one lady from the Bronx who had traveled to see Diane Ravitch. We heard from one distressed parent whose daughter is struggling with deadening lessons and poor test scores despite good classwork. There was a full range of age among attendees. I gave out 80-90 Change the Stakes fliers, so maybe we will get some new members.
Three cheers for Julie, her PS 15 colleagues, and the student "ambassadors" who guided us through the school to the library.

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