Monday, March 10, 2014

Leonie on Ed Show Tonight on Charter Co-Loco Battle

At least MSNBC has been giving some voice to our side -- hope you saw Julie Cavanagh on the SAT issue on Chris Hayes Friday night. Now Leonie on The Ed Show at 5:30.

Dear folks:

I will be on the Ed Show at 5:30 PM EST tonight on MSNBC, talking about the furious co-location battle going on in NYC.

Lost in the furious rhetoric from the charter lobby and the biased coverage by the mainstream media is the fact that 36 co-locations are going forward, 14 of them for charter schools, and 22 for non-charter schools.  In all of these cases, these co-locations will lead to more overcrowding and prevent students from being provided with smaller classes, which the state’s highest court said was necessary if NYC children were to receive their constitutional right to an adequate education.

Over the weekend, the Public Advocate Letitia James held a terrific town hall meeting with the affected parents at these schools and the Community Education Councils who represent them.  The vote was unanimous to continue our lawsuit against allowing these 36 co-locations to go forward.  The entire public process that led to these co-locations was illegitimate, including the lack of real parent consultation and engagement, inaccurate utilization figures, false and some cases manipulated enrollment numbers, all engineered by the former head of Portfolio, Marc Sternberg, who shortly thereafter went to work for the Walton Foundation, whose explicit purpose it is to privatize public education.

More on this meeting and why we are continuing the lawsuit is on our blog here; as well as a link to a spreadsheet showing that 14 of the proposals would push the school building to 100% utilization or more.  In all cases, the utilization would be above 100% if the formula was aligned to smaller classes, a full complement of art, music and science rooms, and dedicated spaces for special needs students to receive their mandated services.

In fact, the Chancellor has admitted that the utilization formula in the “Blue Book” is inaccurate and has appointed a taskforce to improve it; two of the members of this taskforce attended the meeting on Saturday and voted that the lawsuit should continue.

If you support the lawsuit and oppose these co-locations, please sign onto the letter below, by emailing us your name, school/district, and position if any to asap.

Thanks as always for your support,

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011

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Dear Public Advocate James and Council Speaker Mark-Viverito:

Let us begin by thanking you for your longstanding support of all public school students and all public school parents.  You have been outspoken supporters of parents and teachers having key input into shaping the schools our children attend.  You have been outspoken supporters of reducing class size, alleviating school overcrowding, and working to implement our children’s right to a sound basic education.  Unfortunately, despite the change in administration, we continue to need your assistance in achieving these goals.

Under the administration of Mayor Bloomberg, the Department of Education pursued a reckless program of closing schools and starting new small schools and charters, and inserting them into existing  buildings were schools were already located, oblivious to their impact on students and the existing schools and programs.

The DOE under Bloomberg ignored the nearly unanimous complaints of parents and the objections of administrators and teachers, and approved hundreds of co-locations that caused more overcrowding, the loss of critical classroom space, as well as art, music and science rooms, caused children with disabilities and learning issues to be pushed out of the rooms required for their mandated services.  The creation of hundreds of new schools also caused a sharp increase in administrative spending and bureaucracy, concurrent with a sharp decline in the number of classroom and a sharp increase in class size.

In October and November 2013, the administration pushed through 45 co-locations in two meetings of the PEP, ignoring the input of communities and the harmful impact of these proposals on students and school communities.

We were thrilled when you, along with others, sued to void this massive round of co-locations, and waited patiently, as you did, with the hope that Mayor de Blasio would reverse most if not all of these plans.

He has not done that, and instead chose to go ahead with 36 of these proposals, which will have devastating effects on existing schools.   At least 12 of these proposals would push the building at or above 100% utilization, according to the DOE’s own figures.  If the Blue Book formula was accurate and pegged to reasonable class sizes, as well as sufficient space for special education services, art rooms, music and science, as well as adequate access to lunchrooms, libraries, and gyms, every one of these co-locations would be seen as pushing the existing schools into unacceptably overcrowded conditions.

This is why all of these co-locations must be reversed.
  1. In every case, they will either result in an increase in class size, or make it impossible to reduce class size in the future, despite the fact that class sizes in many grades are now the largest in 15 years and the mayor has pledged to reduce them significantly by the end of his term. Moreover, the state’s highest court has concluded that the class sizes of NYC students must be lowered for them to receive their constitutional right to an adequate education.
  2. They will hinder the ability of schools to address the needs of students requiring special education services by providing adequate space, as well as the ability of schools to address the learning needs of English language learners. 
  3. They will also restrict the amount of space available to expand preK, an important program and one of this administration’s top priorities.
  4. Because the DOE has in recent years redefined a full-size classroom as only 500 square feet, down from 750 square feet, and the building code requires 35 sq. ft per Kindergarten student and 20 sq. ft. per student in other grades, many of the classrooms in these schools will trigger violations in the building code, risking children’s safety.
  5. In all cases, the addition of new schools requires the creation of new, unnecessary bureaucracy with excessive numbers of administrative positions when resources could be better used on instruction.
  6. None of these damaging impacts on safety, learning conditions and/or spending are reflected in the Educational Impact Statements.
  7. In cases involving co-location of charter schools, the allowance of rent-free space results in their receiving more funds per capita than non-charter schools, creating inequities within school buildings, with two classes of students, one with smaller classes, more resources and programs, and the other with larger classes, and fewer resources and programs.
  8. In all cases, the DOE has ignored the input of parents, community members, and Community Education Councils, who have opposed these co-locations for the reasons cited above and more.
To be sure, these proposals were approved only because the public hearing process was a sham, the public input process was a sham, and because the Panel for Educational Policy rubber-stamped them without serious review.  In all cases, the voices of parents were not heard, and this was unlawful.

We urge you to proceed with your lawsuit and to see that the process going forward adheres to the law.  We pledge to join you in that effort.


Leonie Haimson, Executive Director, Class Size Matters
John Englert, Co-chair, Citywide Council on Special Education
Shino Tanikawa, President, Community Education Council District 2* and member of the DOE “Blue Book” Taskforce
David Goldsmith. President, Community Education Council District 13*
Tesa Wilson, President, Community Education Council District 14; member of DOE “Blue Book” Taskforce
Felicia P. Alexander, President, Community Education Council District 16
Heather Ann Fiorica, President, Community Education Council District 21
Deborah Perkins, President, Community Education Council District 22
Naila Caicedo-Rosario, President of Community Education Council District 15
Tamara Rowe, member, Community Education Council 2*
Ben Greene, District 13 CPAC representative; 1st VP, Community Education Council District 13
Evelyn Feliciano, Parent Leader D10,    Member Bronx Community Board  5
Monse Santana, Title I chair, PTA Tompkins Square Middle School*, and District Leadership Team, District 1
Olaiya Deen, member, Community Education Council District 3
Christine Kroening, PTA President IS 78 Roy H. Mann School
Irene Abraham, IS 78/P312 parent
Linda Dalton, member, Community Education Council District 21
Gloria Smith, President of District 75 President Council and 1st VP, Citywide Council of D75
Randi Garay, member, Community Education Council District 21
Carlos M. Lopez Garcia, SLT Chair, Safety Chair & UFT Chapter Leader PS 30X

(* for identification purposes only; list in formation)

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