Friday, January 26, 2018

Video: Voices of Community Education Council District 3 (Upper West Side) Address Total Lack of Community Engagement and DOE Complicity at PEP

Lack of professionalism and common courtesy on part of the DOE.
Everything was done to minimize community input and family engagement.
DOE hasn't earned our trust.
Going to a PEP where parents, teachers, students and community people show up to talk about being ignored, being ignored by yet another arrogant Farina superintendent, being lied to repeatedly and being used as a prop to give the impression the DOE admin is concerned about them is like watching a horror show in an endless loop.

See the video of 4 CEC 3 members at the Jan. PEP calling out the DOE and Farina administration under de Blasio and if you want to dig further read their astounding letter - all 11 pages detailing the ills of the DOE that will never be fixed even though these parents honestly offer their services. Ending mayoral control is the only answer. At least at the local school boards we knew who to yell at.

CEC 3 letter to DOE -- see full pdf: 22, 2018

Chancellor Carmen Fariña
New York City Department of Education
52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10001

Dear Chancellor Fariña,

Closing a beloved community school, or any portion of such school in one of New York City’s neighborhoods is never an easy process. It shouldn’t be an easy process. In the Harlem portion of Community School District 3, where Success Academy Charter Schools and other charters have bought their way into
their “market share” via snazzy advertising, rigidity of behavioral standards, crisp uniforms and other optical illusions, public schools are fighting hard to survive. The Wadleigh Secondary School for The Performing Visual Arts is no exception.

Like other schools in the Department of Education’s renewal school program, Wadleigh has struggled academically. Yet according to the renewal school benchmark portal, the Wadleigh middle school has met most of its markers for performance these last three years. Student attendance improved to 91.8%, within the benchmark range of 91.4-92.4%. Collaborative teaching marks reached 3.03, which meets the range set at 3.0-3.3. ELA proficiencies were also met according to the portal. Of the six benchmarks listed on the portal, Wadleigh met four of them, 67%, which is exactly the achievement level referenced by Superintendent Altschul as the required progress to remain in the renewal school program.

While the announcement to truncate its middle school and make Wadleigh a competitive performing arts high school appeals to decision makers at the New York City Department of Education, the District 3 superintendent, and a handful of elected officials, this decision does not represent the best interests of the Harlem community, parents at Wadleigh, and Community Education Council District 3.

For the additional reasons listed below and the unanswered questions attached, CEC3 calls on the Department of Education to immediately suspend this proposal for consideration for at least one year so that Wadleigh can continue to work towards improving academic standards and enrollment at the school, so that the Wadleigh community and Harlem parents can begin to heal, and so that CEC3 can work on building trust with the parents of our district who need the most support.

First, holding a secret meeting with a handful of chosen parents, asking them to keep the conversation to themselves, then referencing this contact point as engagement is NOT “community engagement.”

However, this is exactly the type of behavior that is all too common among school communities in District 3 where segregation and charter encroachment remains most persistent.

Everyone involved in the decision to add the Wadleigh middle school to the list of closures knows that community engagement did not occur before the proposal announcement.

In June, the District 3 superintendent met one time with the Wadleigh SLT. According to parents in the room, she noted that the Council Members:

Inyanga Collins Daniel Katz Michael McCarthy Jean Moreland
Dennis Morgan Jane Yan Sun, ELL Alana Metcalf, Student Member| Ilene Altschul District 3 Community Superintendent
closure was “just an idea.”

From that meeting in June until late October, the “idea” of truncating the middle school was not mentioned to the Wadleigh community nor to members of CEC3. In the fall, frustrated parents, who were hearing rumors of a truncation, took it upon themselves to set up a meeting with the District 3 renewal schools representative. Much effort was spent trying to prevent a CEC liaison from attending this meeting (November 10) and, during the meeting, district staff professed to know nothing of the rumors of the truncation.

Moreover, during multiple CEC3 meetings in the fall, the District 3 superintendent indicated that the Wadleigh middle school might be considered for truncation for 2019, but that no such significant change proposal was imminent. And on December 18, 2017, in a meeting with the Wadleigh middle school students - not their parents - the truth was revealed.

The Wadleigh community has been told that the District 3 superintendent fought the decision. Clearly she did not fight very hard. [In fact, at a recent CEC3 meeting, the District 3 superintendent voiced her support for the truncation.]

Second, there is clear evidence that Wadleigh IS improving, as per the benchmark metrics described at the beginning of this letter. Other performance outcomes are notable as well, despite the fact that the Department of Education failed to provide much needed substantive resources that would improve student outcomes.

Following this letter is a table of unanswered questions that highlight such student outcomes, accountability and oversight, as well as a financial summary of Wadleigh’s funding.

Lastly, on Friday, January 12, 2018, an additional injustice was handed to the hard-working Wadleigh community, which is trying to save the middle school. The Department of Education has decided to delay the truncation vote of the Panel for Education Policy until the March 21 meeting. This untimely delay means that the Wadleigh community will be cast into further confusion about its future. Such a decision to delay the vote, means that, among other things, the already scheduled and promoted Joint Public Hearing won’t take place on February 12, curtailing the momentum and passion so clearly on display at the meeting on January 10th.

In addition, yet another month will pass for students and parents to figure out where they will be going to school next year. This delay is unacceptable, disrespectful, destructive, and abusive.
Before this course of engagement causes any more damage to the Harlem community, CEC3 calls upon the Department of Education to suspend, for at least one year, the plans to truncate the Wadleigh middle school and to work closely with CEC3 and the Wadleigh community to develop a plan for the Wadleigh Secondary School for Performing Visual Arts to “rise up” from the Renewal School program. Changes in leadership and programming may be needed, and we welcome the effort to bring in outside entities for assistance. However, this is NOT the time to amputate a major source of enrollment for the high school.

Cultivating a performing arts high school at Wadleigh is already underway - let’s work together to make it happen.

Community Education Council 3
Mayor Bill DeBlasio
U.S. Congressman Adriano Espaillat
Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, New York State Education Department
Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa
Regents Vice Chancellor T. Andrew Brown
Regent Nan E. Mead
Regent Kathleen M. Cashin
Regent Wade S. Norwood
Regent Christine D. Cea
Regent Lester Young, Jr
Regent Elizabeth Hakanson
Regent Luis Reyes
Regent Josephine Victoria Finn
Regent Roget Tilles
Regent James R. Tallon, Jr.
Regent Beverly Ouderkirk
Regent Judith Johnson
Regent Catherine Collins
Regent James E. Cottrell
Regent Judtith Chin
New York State Senator Brian Benjamin
New York State Assembly Member Inez E. Dickens
Public Advocate Letitia James
NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer
Borough President Gale A. Brewer
City Council Member Bill Perkins
City Council Member Mark Trayger
Dr. Hazel Dukes, NAACP New York President
Michael Mulgrew, United Federation of Teachers
District 3 Superintendent Ilene Altschul
Daisy Fontanez, Principal, Wadleigh
Secondary School of Performing Visual Arts
Gigs Taylor-Stephenson, President, Wadleigh Parent Association
Vanessa Leung, Panel for Educational Policy
Michael Kraft, Panel for Educational Policy
Lori Podvesker, Panel for Educational Policy
Peter Calandrella, Panel for Educational Policy
Isaac Carmignani, Panel for Educational Policy
Geneal Chacon, Panel for Educational Policy
April Chapman, Panel for Educational Policy
T. Elzora Cleveland, Panel for Educational Policy
Deborah Dillingham, Panel for Educational Policy
Gary Linnen, Panel for Educational Policy
Stephanie Soto, Panel for Educational Policy
Ben Shuldiner, Panel for Educational Policy
D. Miguelina Zorilla-Aristy, Panel for Educational Policy

Unanswered Questions about Wadleigh and the Closure of Its Middle School Grades

Note: this list has been accumulating since December 18, 2017 with NO response from the Superintendent other than to reference that “central” is planning to create an FAQ. The left column refers to general topic areas: DOE Accountability, Wadleigh resources, student outcomes, enrollment, truncation announcement, transition plan, and community engagement.

Following are 8 pages of data which can be accessed at:


  1. How are things going at PS 333- MSC which we attended K-6 and K-8 (2 girls to 6, one boy to 8) and helped the Founder, Lucy Wicks. Thank you! Neal H. Hurwitz

  2. According to parents in the room, she noted that the Council Members:

    Inyanga Collins Daniel Katz Michael McCarthy Jean Moreland
    Dennis Morgan Jane Yan Sun, ELL Alana Metcalf, Student Member| Ilene Altschul District 3 Community Superintendent
    closure was “just an idea.”--------------- this makes no sense--- what is being said???


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