Monday, March 18, 2019

Jackson Heights Queens Ed Forum: Ravitch, AOC, Liu, Jackson plus others

Leonie reports:  There was an amazing education forum yesterday with standing room only. Thanks to Jackson Heights People for Public Schools for organizing it. Among the wonderful speakers were Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents the district in Congress,  NY Senators Jessica Ramos and Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, who represent the district in the Legislature, as well as Senators Robert Jackson and John Liu. Among the terrific education advocates who spoke were Johanna Garcia of NYC Opt out, Maria Bautista of AQE, Carol Burris of Network for Public Education, Diane Ravitch, Kate Menken  of the NYS Association for Bilingual Education and me.
Fred and AOC- to the left (pun intended)
What would be a normal educational forum turned into a major event due to the star power of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez- and don't forget Diane Ravitch plus all the important politicians plus of course Leonie Haimson. And don't forget Fred Smith, my fellow 2019 Skinny Award winner, who always gets the money shot. I'm sorry I missed it but I spent the day doing a movie with some friends (and we actually shot the whole thing in one day.)

150 people SRO on a Saturday afternoon ed forum is not light.

Leonie has a report on her blog: Queens forum with AOC on how our schools must make every child feel like they matter

Chaz, who is not to the left, actually has some nice things to say about AOC --with the usual right wing trolls leaving comments attacking her. 
Chaz's School Daze Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) Supports NYC Public Schools - I know a hell of a lot of old white guys like me who love her work.

But I want to make special mention of the organizing group behind the event:  Jackson Heights People for Public Schools whose mission is: We work to educate the community about the public schools in Jackson Heights and to support parents and members of the community who wish to make our schools even better.

One of the founders and leaders of the group is currently a NYC high school teacher, Amanda Vender. I first met Amanda over a decade ago - I think she was working with the newspaper Indy Kids and I was distributing some of them to some people in the schools. Eventually Amanda became a middle school teacher and had kids -- I distinctly remember her bringing her few weeks old child to some forum we were running.

Someone posted on FB:
Thanks goes out to Alliance for Quality Education, NYC Opt Out, Class Size Matters, The Network for Public Education & NYS Association for Bilingual Education.
But especially to Amanda Vender & Jackson Heights People for Public Schools for pulling it all together!!!
Amanda Vender at forum
Amanda never got deeply involved in the work of union opposition politics though she was a supporter. She focused on her work as a parent and actually did local community organizing where she lived, whereas groups like MORE just talk about community organizing in theory.

She and her group are bringing a pro-public school, pro opt-out, progressive vision of education to her own community. I realized that the work inside a union opposition begins to look meaningless compared to the work Amanda and others have done in their communities. If I had done similar work in Rockaway - (and of course if I had kids I might have), I would have been much more useful than I was pushing the boulder uphill in UFT opposition politics. Maybe next life.

Amanda Vender, one of the first AOC supporters is my model for educational organizing. Amanda not only talks the talk, she walks the walk.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks, Norm. I have come to realize the enormity of Amanda Vender's work.