Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Outrage of CPE1

Maybe it's because I have an endoscopy and colonoscopy in a few hours --- so excuuuse me for this rant.

I know this is becoming the CPE1 blog -- and I imagine some of you want to hear other news -- but I also try to link what is going on there to the larger complexities -- like I haven't even tackled the race, segregation and diversity issues surrounding the CPE1 situation. I have learned so much from my contact with so many CPE1 parents and teachers - but most of my conversations have been with the parents, as diverse a group of parents that exists in this system -- a model for any school and community despite the attacks by the DOE and Garg supporters that the school was exclusionary. I also haven't delved into the issue that the DOE wanted to change CPE1 to make it more competitive with Eva-like charters in District 4 which are attractive to parents who are nervous about the freedom children get in a progressive school. (Read some press reports the last 2 days to see the underlying attacks on the CPE1 people buried in the reports -- I don't have all the links to the WSJ, New York Times, New York Daily News, DNAinfo-- I'm too weak from hunger to look for them -- so leave a comment with any links you find.)

While the CPE1 community celebrates the victories - and there may be more breaking good news later in the day - I still have feelings
of outrage.

Outrage at the Farina admin at the DOE for basically leaving so much of the BloomKlein era intact where teachers can be brought up on firing charges for the equivalent of having a hang nail while principals go free for committing educational murder. In fact I was going to go to the PEP meeting tonight to spend 2 minutes yelling at Farina and the PEP members for allowing this situation to go on for so long - and for allowing people like Garg - and Jahoda - to run schools. And for dissing Debbie Meier's vision. Rumor was that she left in tears after a meeting with Farina. (My belief has been that Farina was jealous of the Debbie notoriety as an educator).

Outrage at the CSA for supporting monsters. CSA Calls Abusive Principal Garg "an outstanding educator.   and list others the DOE should have supported - John Dewey High School. DeWitt Clinton High School. Townsend Harris High School.
We need a rogues gallery for CSA superstars.

Outrage at the UFT, which actually got involved after we encouraged  dozens of parents and teachers to come to EB meetings - not as  much as we wished -- but we'll take the outcome -- they will surely claim full credit for the outcome, but only became woke when parents and teachers worked with MORE/New Action to put the issue right in front of their faces --- after over a year and a half of inaction.

Arthur points out in his excellent report today - CPE 1 Victory Is Model for Us All --
...we from MORE/ New Action spent hours meeting with the CPE 1 community and tried to address their concerns. We were part of it. Unity was part of it too, but they were also the part that applauded someone who trash-talked the activist parents and teachers at last week's Executive Board.
Yes, just 10 days ago, many people on the UFT Ex Bd applauded when a first year untenured teacher (also a parent at the school) appeared with two other teachers to support Monika Garg and say what a wonderful principal she was and while at it to attack the veteran teachers who said they would only meet with them off campus because their chapter leader, Marilyn Martinez, was in the rubber room awaiting the outcome of her hearing. (I wonder how these people are feeling today.)

They were joined at the meeting by 4 parent Garg supporters -- the ringleader was pointed out to me, but given what will surely be attempts on the part of our allies to bring peace to the school and mend rifts (if the other side won there would have been a bloodbath), I will refrain from going after her --- but will point out that one parent said to me incredulously -- "but her child was in Marilyn's class last year -- how can she support these attacks?" Yet there she was, seemingly to help orchestrate an attempt to muddy the waters at the UFT - everyone knows they will go both ways - and my thought was did the district rep tell them to come because she detected the leadership moving in the right direction?

And then I saw it -- UFT District 4 Rep Sevia Silva cuddled with them in the hall with smiles and backslaps. Applause and backslaps from Unity Caucus for people -- well while they were talking CPE1 parents were texting me using the word "Scabs." Note that not all teachers hired by Garg supported them. A few weeks ago when the large anti-Garg crew showed up one of the Garg hires was with them, and the CPE1 people were so proud of her not only for supporting them but to them most importantly, how much she has learned as a teacher.

The first meeting Peter Lamphere and I had with a large group of teachers c. Feb 2016 was off campus. (Let me point out that Peter has not only played a role in the CPE1 situation but also fired the first shot when Rosemarie Jahoda was installed as principal of Townsend Harris HS - a shot cited by the teachers at the school when they came to praise the UFT for helping them --they said they found anti-Jahoda pieces online but never mentioned Peter by name - I reposted this on Aug. 29, 2016 -- Peter Lamphere on Rosemarie Jahoda: What Does It Take To Get Promoted to Principal in NYC?)

They CPE1 teachers seemed shell-shocked. They had no idea of the blueprint Garg was following but  it was so familiar to us since we had heard this story time and again from other schools. I remember asking questions - like -- "and I assume the local UFT doesn't really support you and in fact often looks like they are supporting the principal and District Supt" -- nods all around. We told them about the PEP meetings where they could confront Farina in person every month and they send a group of people to the next one and every meeting until tonight when they won't be going. I remember that after that first PEP meeting Jia and I ran into some of them outside and we all went out to eat at a restaurant in Chinatown.

They were mistrustful of Garg from Day 1 in July 2015 but wanted to give her a chance and she was not quite vicious - until she was appointed after a rushed C30 process around December 2015 after which she escalated the assaults. BEWARE THE RUSHED C30 PROCESS -- THE UFT MUST GET CONTROL OF THIS AND GIVE TEACHERS A BIGGER VOICE.
The Garg post-appointment escalation caused a reaction from the vet teachers. Garg went through each of their files and found something in the past to trigger an investigation of all of them. (How dare the Garg supporters claim these investigations -- all of which have come to nothing -- were legit?)

One of the leaders of the teachers was the school delegate -- Catlin Prestin. He helped circulate a petition in Jan. 2016. His name was on top and on the email as the circulator. Garg immediately attacked the 9 year teacher so beloved by the parents with letter after letter in his file, soon to be followed by charges of corporal punishment, his removal from the school around February, and his being brought up on 3020a charges - his hearing was not until this school year and has lingered with a decision expected any minute. When I found out from the parent of the child who was involved with the charges what really went on with Garg's lies and manipulation of an incident where the teacher had been trying to comfort the child my response was that Garg should be fired if not arrested.

(Parents while celebrating Marilyn's return have not given up trying to get Catlin back to the school. Contrast the two cases by the way - Marilyn charged and removed in Feb, 3020a "emergency" hearing in March, decision in May.)

It was Catlin's removal that led to people contacting Peter for a meeting with some MOREs - why? Because Silva and the Manhattan UFT borough office were so unresponsive -- after all - the UFT knew this blueprint and due to what I assume is more loyalty to its relationships to the CSA and DOE Officials, take a basic hands off approach. The don't view themselves as our reps but as a neutral negotiating party.

With MORE/NA elected Ex Bd members joining with CPE1 parents at the EB meetings to pressure the union into action. I remember bringing it up in my 2 minutes and Howie Schoor acting surprised -- and I made the point that this was a failure of the UFT at the root level where so many people say that

Hey, in this case it worked but in the hundreds of others because there is no group of parent activists like at CPE1 -- and at Townsend Harris too where students and parents got active -- well people are often left to drown.

I'll close with this point from Arthur's blog today:
..primary credit should go to the CPE 1 community. I spent a lot of time listening to one of the parents in particular, and I rarely see the sort of passion and dedication that came from both them and the activist teachers combined with the activism it took to sustain this. The parents and  teachers who undertook this are fantastic role models. Many of us are understandably disheartened and disillusioned, and unwilling to take a stand. Perhaps it's natural that many of us need a crisis like this to bring us to our feet....
Common sense didn't work. Looking at the situation objectively didn't work. Relentless pressure and news coverage seems to be what finally took the Arg out of Garg. And that, my friends, is exactly what we need to practice more of. I'm ready. Are you?  
So I expect to be in a better mood after I eat something late this afternoon and hope I can report some more good news coming out of CPE1 ---


  1. Here are some recent articles, Norm.


  2. From Deborah Meier's blog:Central Park East I: A New Principal! Coming!
    Posted on May 17, 2017 by debmeier
    Dear Friends and colleagues,
    I got some encouraging news a couple of days ago that I thought I’d pass on. The Department of Education in New York City has decided to seek a new principal for Central Park East I. As many of you know the school has spent almost two years in a state of crisis as a new principal sought to “”change it.” She believed that progressive education was not suitable for Black, Latino and low-income children. She had other faults that were of a more personal nature. Of course, even with her departure we still keep rebuilding the school. We will keep our fingers crossed and the pressure on to replace her with someone who shares more of our original beliefs and intentions. Rebuilding a school will not be easy and in many ways it requires starting all over again since one cannot replicate but must always invent. For me this is worth celebrating because it represents the power of a community to come together, persevere and eventually be heard. Of course it should not be so hard to get this kind of change in a public school that belongs to its teachers and families and children. The job ahead of them will not be easy but its friends will hopefully be there to help.


  3. Another:

  4. The CPE 1 story is ok by me. It's nice to hear a story where the good guys win.

  5. SO happy Garg was removed, & the UFT Rep was exonerated! But it is " a tale of 2 school systems indeed, one where abusive dangerous administrators are let off with a slap on the wrist, while teachers are put through the grinder with no help from the UFT for often false charges, or simply for speaking up!

  6. Great outcome! Only want to see these abusive admins brought to justice for once, & the Mulgrew Machine defend a teacher for once!


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