Thursday, April 21, 2016

The "New" PEP Under di Blasio/Farina - New Boss, Same as Old Boss?

Aixa Rodriguez (right) led the battle to save her school. Jia Lee and Marilena Marchetti from MORE were present to support her.

Where have you gone Joel Klein?
Our nation turns it's lonely eyes to you.

Would we ever have imagined that the current DOE administration could look as cold stone deaf and heartless as the previous administration? From what I saw up there last night I can't say I see any difference. I even saw a di Blasio appointee, a former principal who came to a MORE meeting 2 years ago and I spent an hour in the bar afterward arguing with him over his anti-union, blame the teacher attitude. That this guy was appointed by di Blasio is indicative of why so many people in the schools - principals and teachers - and parents - think that when it comes to transparency and response and over regulations, nothing much has changed.

Aixa makes a powerful speech

A large crew from Central Park East 1 called for removal of principal Monika Garz

Watching the Farina led PEP with the Panel sitting on a stage so far away from the audience, but not far enough away not to see the blank looks on their faces as issue after issue came up with people practically pleading for a response to repeated requests over months and even years - any response at a all - but not getting any.

I have loads of video to process so this will only be a quick hit of the 3 major issues that came up.

"Renewal Means Removal"
I posted yesterday:Today at PEP: Mayor de Blasio's "RENEWAL"

High on the agenda was the closing of FLAGS whose building is being invaded by a charter school - which sent a busload of people to the PEP. I asked them when we were leaving if we could co-locate their bus for people going to the Bronx so they could get a ride home. They have money to use for buses for political events.
I have a lot of good video of speeches made on their behalf.

Chalkbeat has an article on this aspect of the PEP quoting Aixa and Jane Meisel:
“If they wanted to revitalize the school they could do that,” said Jane Maisel, a member of the advocacy group Change the Stakes, before the vote. “We think it’s a very bad precedent.”
“Parents and kids were like, ‘Didn’t we have an understanding that this would be a community school?’” said Aixa Rodriguez, a FLAGS teacher. “We had the sword of Damocles over us the entire time.”
Here is the brief press conference before the meeting. The charter bus arrived and they cut it short to make sure to get in and sign up before they packed the sign up list so not everyone got to speak - but at that point I was the only "press" there and I have all their comments from inside the PEP to post in a followup.

Civil Rights lawyer Norman Seigel leads battle for true education for Jewish boys
This item surprised me. A group of former Hassidic yeshiva students were with Norman to protest the education they got which violate state laws. The DOE is supposed to monitor them. The Bloomberg and di Blasio admins both covered up for political reasons. Farina has been unresponsive. The powerful speeches laid bare the political arrangement as these schools get millions of dollars that are misused and misdirected. I'll cut the videos of their speeches and put them up in a few days.

CPE1 Organizes
You've been reading their story here:
Parents at Central Park East 1 Issue Press Release...
 I have some great footage of them at the PEP but have to process it all. When they described how 40 years of teachers having their voices heard in setting school policy was dismantled in months by Monika Garg my thought was that she is the perfect principal for Farina who I can't conceive of sharing power with teachers. I believe Farina is behind the move to dismantle CPE1 - a decision to put in such an inappropriate principal can only come from the top. The teachers who spoke were amazing, yet most of them are under investigation on bogus charges. Garg pulled kids in to be questioned without parent permission or notice. And Garg has made racial comments which may prove to be the trigger - Beth Fertig from WNYC was interviewing a parent and that point seemed to interest her the most.

For now I do have their press conference before the PEP. Wait till you see the two 12 year old alums have to say about how they learned at CPE1.

PEP CPE Pr Conf April 2016

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