Thursday, January 18, 2018

Global Tech PS 7 Merger Update: politics rule in Supt. Estrella Land

IA Principal Graeber went from disparaging the collaborative efforts of the staff in 2016-17 as he described it: "the teachers have been running the school for too long" to desperately begging teachers to help to control classroom, lunch room and recess. This level of disrespect for collaborative leadership goes counter to 7 years of dedicated work at GTP with Russell and Baiz plus 2 years at PS 7 under GTP trained Dr. Harvey. ....
To close Global Tech is to actively discriminate against children with special needs, their families, and their rights to choose. Additionally, the superintendent has shown no consideration of how the increased number of special education students at PS 7 will be addressed, demonstrating her lack of concern and foresight in closing GTP, a school serving a high number of special education students.
....... Through already combining the schools, the superintendent has shown she neither honors the process for a school closure/merger, nor does she respect the community’s rights to give input and be heard when it comes to the educational futures of their children. ........Emails from former staff
Shades of the charges against CPE1 - that teachers were running the school -- which I have always found to lead to the best run schools. But Farina and crew are out to stamp out strong teacher voices. The serious charges about neglect of special ed students may come back to bite the butts of Estrella and Farina --- expect the tonight's event and the Jan. 24 PEP to contain some fireworks --- look for videos to come.

So tonight I'm dragging my old bones up to tape the hearing for merger of Global Tech and PS 7 in Harlem. Gloria, Myrie, Joan and Lisa from MORE are joining me and we have a very good leaflet produced by the MORE closing schools committee, which can be read at the MORE site:  CASCADE – Campaign Against School Closings & Displacement Everywhere. I love the name CASCADE. And I love working with this committee of MORE even if I have some issues with some of the other ways MORE has been operating. 

I reported on the Global Tech situation yesterday:
Global Tech Supporters Resist Consolidation Efforts of District 4 (East Harlem) Supt Estrella and Farina; Links of Estrella to UFT District Rep. 

I'm pushing our Ex Bd reps to challenge the union on Estrella at the Ex Bd meeting next Monday.

Below are excerpts from email exchanges from former staff that expose the political manipulation and personal vendettas of District 4 (East Harlem) Supt Alexandra Estrella as she puts another notch in her belt of destruction. That she is an agent of Farina, there is no question. We talked about her relationship with UFT officials in yesterday's post.

Global Tech Supporters Resist Consolidation Efforts of District 4 (East Harlem) Supt Estrella and Farina; Links of Estrella to UFT District Rep

Our original April 23, 2017 report is here: CPE1 and Global Tech - East Harlem Dist. 4 Supt Alexandra Estrella: Evil Death Star School Destroyer).

Here is some more background info from email exchanges.
One point not addressed so far is the state of both schools since the " mock merger."
The level of chaos and confusion that exists in the building is unacceptable.  Teachers are on the verge of break downs and several have quit, others are planning their exit strategy for 2018.  The new principals are both unable to control the rapidly increasing fights and classroom disruptions in the 6th grade.  Special education students are placed in classes with no special education teachers.  Students with 12:1 designation are in general education classes 70% of the day with one teacher.  
The claim that GTP students will benefit from a partnership with Hunter College is dishonest and shameful.  Hunter College was not aware of the "mock merger" and were caught off-guard by the  devastatingly negative impact on discipline and achievement.   Hunter placed a consultant in the school to try to bring order to the chaos with little positive effect. Members of the superintendent staff have been actively involved in running the school and have acted as substitute teachers on occasion in an effort to stabilize lapses in leadership that could de-rail the partnership. 
IA Principal Graeber went from disparaging the collaborative efforts of the staff in 2016-17 as he described it: "the teachers have been running the school for too long" to desperately begging teachers to help to control classroom, lunch room and recess. This level of disrespect for collaborative leadership goes counter to 7 years of dedicated work at GTP with Russell and Baiz plus 2 years at PS 7 under GTP trained Dr. Harvey. 
The flaunted restorative practice and designated classroom space is so dysfunctional that teachers are volunteering to man more structured detentions and suspensions during their lunch periods, as a last-ditch effort to save the school year.
This "mock merger" has to be brought back to the discussion and negotiating table with ALL STAKEHOLDERS represented.
We should accept nothing less.

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Here is the email that began the thread delineating the reasons for why the merger is a bad move:
I am writing this email with deep concern about the merger of Global Tech Prep into PS 7, effectively closing Global Tech Prep in East Harlem's District 4. I do not support this merger/closure of Global Tech (MS 406) for the following reasons:
There is no other technology-based school in the district, which serves a population of high-needs students. With the skills needed to be successful in today’s technological world and an already burgeoning achievement gap between students with resources and those without, how can we close the one tech school in the district? 

What is the technology plan? Each student at Global Tech Prep has a laptop, but more importantly, the kind of education that teaches them to be digital citizens in today’s complex world. There is no mention of how the very needed skills involving technology will be addressed in the superintendent’s proposal.

Based on the need for a technology school alone, why isn’t a formation considered where PS 7 would focus on PreK-5 and Global Tech on 6-8 for the community? The community deserves to have this choice. 

This addresses the lowered enrollment, which is something happening across ALL public schools in the district (this is fueled by the exorbitant number of charter schools in the district). It seems there’s been no comparison of which of the two middle schools better serves the community, which should be a key part of the evaluation of closing an existing middle school. Where is this comparison—breaking out the 6-8 of PS 7 and comparing it to Global Tech (and looking both at and beyond test scores) to support this decision?

Special education students comprise 39% of the population at Global Tech Prep, and many parents choose the school because of how well the school educates students with special needs. Closing GTP means special education parents of East Harlem have few choices for schools that really understand and can serve special education students at the level GTP can. Furthermore, closing GTP (M406) is against the principles of the laws that govern special education—every child has the right to a free and appropriate education. The standards of “appropriate” special education at other schools in the district don’t come close to the kinds of outcomes and work Global Tech does with special needs students. 

To close Global Tech is to actively discriminate against children with special needs, their families, and their rights to choose. Additionally, the superintendent has shown no consideration of how the increased number of special education students at PS 7 will be addressed, demonstrating her lack of concern and foresight in closing GTP, a school serving a high number of special education students. A data analysis of the progress made by special education students in each school at the 6-8 level is essential in making an informed decision about what's best for children, especially those with special needs. Additionally, considering the impacts of each of children with IEPs not having access to a laptop for each class (which has been essential for their success) has also not been considered.  

The proposal mentions Hunter College as a benefit coming from PS 7. Has Hunter confirmed they won’t support both schools? For example, in the Case of Citizen Schools, the program began at Global Tech and supported both. Seems the superintendent has orchestrated Hunter's support to achieve her goal of consolidating the schools based on demands from central offices. 

This proposal is for 2018-2019. However, teachers and students at the schools report that all Global Technology signs have been taken down and that the classes between the schools are merged. Effectively, this means Alex Estrella has already merged the schools in practice before the community has made a decision and the appropriate procedural processes have been followed. This isn’t a proposal open for the East Harlem community’s comments, it seems. Through already combining the schools, the superintendent has shown she neither honors the process for a school closure/merger, nor does she respect the community’s rights to give input and be heard when it comes to the educational futures of their children. 

An update on Global Tech:

The merger of Global Tech Prep and PS 7 is now slated for a vote from the Panel of Educational Policy (PEP). This panel will vote on the merger at the following meeting: 

January 24, 2018 at 6pm
PS 20, The Anna Silver School (166 Essex St.)

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