The Community Education Council of District 14, which includes Greenpoint, Williamsburg and the northern end of Bed-Stuy, has come out with a very strong statement on opening schools, basically calling for full-scale remote learning until their concerns are met. There's a lot of depth to the statement, so please read it through. It's an indication of the major push back to the plans to open schools even with the delay.
One of the issues that has concerned me about the hard core remotes from a social justice point of view has been the childcare and learning gap from remote learning facing the most vulnerable people who get hurt the most from keeping schools closed.
They address this issue in this whereas and resolved:
Whereas the DOE has yet to address the gaps in access to childcare created by remote and blended learning models for our low income families, essential workers and those who cannot work from home but must continue to provide for their families
Be it resolved that in person services & programming be allotted to our most vulnerable students such as students with learning disabilities, students in families of essential workers, and children of single or low income parents first and foremost, with the caveat that even they cannot re-enter school buildings without adequate personnel, equipment, cleaning supplies, testing, tracing & isolation procedures in place that account for social distancing and mask wearing,I'm still not sure the demand totally solves the problem. I don't think we can afford caveats -- schools must open for these children and priority should be given to making sure enough space is available. Call for volunteers, contributions and whatever it takes. By saying we have to wait for these demands to be met by an often incompetent DOE is a form of punting. As Jean Luc Picard said, Make it so number 1. No excuses. If the vulnerable are our priority first we know all these demands can be met immediately by shifting resources. In essence their demand is to keep the schools closed.
I spent my entire 38 years at the DOE (the last 3 part-time) working in District 14, until recently historically one of the most conservative districts in the city in the entire time I worked there. In fact I can write an entire book on the history of the school board wars in that district where a tiny white Greenpoint majority in a district that at the time was well over 90% Latinx and Black controlled the school board which dealt with k-8 schools from 1970 through the end of community control in 2002.
So seeing how progressive the CEC 14 has become includes many embedded strands about massive changes in our neighborhoods. (I lived through these type of changes in the opposite direction in East NY Brooklyn (District 19) on the 60s when the neighborhood went from mostly white to overwhelming people of color.)
The numbers given below, 58% Latinx students and 21% African American, show clear signs of the 25 years of gentrification in the district which I would assume is now over 30% white and scattered beyond Greenpoint. District 14 has the most charters in the city per capital and Eva occupies space in a number of buildings and since she is staying full remote her buildings are empty and available. There is no mention of this.
In the meantime, probably based on this statement, we read that Friday the Mayor toured a District 14 school:
September 3, 2020
Whereas community school district 14 is comprised of 58% Latinx students and 21% African American students whose families are disproportionately impacted by the health disparities exacerbated by covid 19,
Whereas almost 2,000 students in community school district 14 were designated English Language Learners in the 2019 school year, not including our multilingual families and families of mixed documentation status, affecting their ability to access life saving and pertinent information regarding Covid 19 and school reopening,
Whereas 32% of community school district 14 students had IEPs in the 2019 school year which require services that have proven challenging to render in the digital space, causing trauma and regression for some of our most vulnerable learners despite the best efforts of our paras, occupational therapists and other support staff; but also presents safety concerns in the physical space with infection rates varying across our city full of student commuters using mass transit,
Whereas the DOE has yet to address the gaps in access to childcare created by remote and blended learning models for our low income families, essential workers and those who cannot work from home but must continue to provide for their families,
Whereas we know the data used to suggest school reopening can be successful is skewed due to a lack of access, information and engagement with tens of thousands of families, particularly in the Bronx and Brooklyn where individual infections rates are well above the accepted average for a safe reopening,
Whereas scientists don’t yet know the long-term health affects of COVID-19 on adults or young people and we refuse to gamble on the health of our students,
Whereas we support parent choice, but find it disingenuous that parents would be given options before they’ve been consulted or fully informed and forced to choose between various plans, they didn’t have the opportunity to help develop,
Whereas, we stand with teachers, custodians, kitchen staff, school aides, secretaries, counselors, paras, arts educators, physical education instructors and more school staff who have not been engaged in a meaningful way with regard to the school reopening conversation,
Whereas the brunt of planning for this unprecedented time for our school communities was unfairly placed on individual Principals and school leadership teams who are not public health professionals and have widely disparate access to the funding and personnel needed to make their school communities safe,
Whereas the Movement of Rank and File Educators, the Alliance for Quality Education, the United Federation of Teachers, The Custodial Engineers Union, the School Aide & Cafeteria Workers Union, The New York State Nurses Association and the Council of School Administrators have all come out in support of a delayed reopening and our needs cannot be feasibly Met with a week and a half extension that doesn’t address the lack of resources schools and families experiencing,
Whereas Principals in school districts 1, 2, 6, 9, 13 and 15 have come out in support of a delayed reopening.
Whereas elected officials such as City Council member and Education Committee Chair Mark Treyger, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and CMs Brannan and Gondardes have come out in support of a delayed reopening, and have already spoken out against what a 10 day delay leaves to be desired,
Whereas equitable, community focused plans and suggestions for a phased, delayed, safe and equitable reopening have been created by The Urban Assembly Maker Academy, the Coalition for Educational Justice, The Alliance for Quality Education, Public Advocate Williams, Councilman Treyger and Parents for Responsive Equitable Safe Schools (PRESS NYC) which represents parents and teachers from over 10 school districts throughout the city of New York,
Whereas out of over 200 parents, students, teachers and elected officials who testified at the August panel for educational policy meeting, only ONE spoke in favor of schools reopening on September 10th,
Whereas over 50 teachers, students, parents, grandparents, PA, PTA, SLT members and principals from over 20 schools in district 14 convened in the second week of a August to discuss our current situation and co create a resolution that would meet the pressing needs of each family in our diverse district,
Whereas on August 24th, over 50 district 14 Principals, Assistant Principals and administrators penned an open letter to the chancellor, governor, mayor and district leadership calling for a delayed reopening, many of whom are happy for the current delay but still need more time,
Be it resolved that community school district 14 delay school reopening in solidarity with its administrators, educators, school support staff, families and students until a plan that addresses the aforementioned issues is in place with the funding, infrastructure, and personnel to bring it to fruition safely and equitably,
Be it resolved that community school district 14 create a phased plan for reinstating in school learning at such a time as we have the funding and personnel necessary for a safe return for EACH school in the district rather than allowing inequities to grow based on which school communities are able to raise their own funds to protect themselves and each other, which none of us should have to,
Be it resolved that in person services & programming be allotted to our most vulnerable students such as students with learning disabilities, students in families of essential workers, and children of single or low income parents first and foremost, with the caveat that even they cannot re-enter school buildings without adequate personnel, equipment, cleaning supplies, testing, tracing & isolation procedures in place that account for social distancing and mask wearing,
Be it resolved that community school district 14 ensure that critical school re opening, covid 19 and relevant resource documents be translated in the languages relevant to our diverse community including but not limited to Spanish, Polish, Chinese and Arabic.
Be it resolved that families who have struggled with lack of technology access and training to use said technology, language barriers that prevent communication with schools or other accessibility issues be provided paper packets mailed to their homes in addition to the use of robo calls in each language represented in a given school community.
Be it resolved that community school district 14 leadership advocate for funding and work with mutual aid organizers, community based organizations, childcare centers and other relevant service providers to answer the call of impacted families with no adequate childcare available to them in any of the 3 models the department of education has presented and that district leadership advocate for funding for our childcare centers and CBO’s.
Be it resolved that community school district 14 leadership co create socio emotionally supportive, culturally responsive in school and remote learning strategies and pathways to inclusion and accessibility like the department of education should have done, leaning on the collaboration and expertise of anti racist educators, parents and students already doing the work of uprooting inequity,
Be it resolved that community school district 14 include teachers, school staff & personnel, students and families in the reopening process as trusted partners with effective and timely communication, transparency, equity and collaboration at the center of all engagement.
Cc: file TS