Remember PS 101 in D4 – a school the DOE decided to close, despite being in good standing w/ the state and receiving a “proficient” rating on its quality review? At the time I said I found it very suspicious – and that it would likely be filled w/ a charter school next year.
Here is a quote from the message I sent out on Dec. 5:
“I suspect that the elementary schools are being closed so that charter schools can be given their buildings next fall. After all, DOE needs to find homes for new charters quickly since the cap was lifted, and it has become more problematic over time to push them into buildings w/ existing schools.”
Reporters asked DOE about this, but the administration denied this was in their plans.
Well guess what’s going into PS 101? The Harlem Success academy – Eva Moskowitz’ charter school.
Class Size Matters
I am sorry, but in the last two prior years, when I was a voting member of CPAC, I was proud that parents finally took a stand and had our own Parents Lobby Day without the DOE. I am sorry to see that we are back to the old one lobby day. I have been an active parent for over 20 years and I cannot in good conscious tell parents to go to Albany and stand next to Joel Klein and attest that we are one in our thinking. During the last 5 years I have seen almost all the gains parents made in real involvement disappear. Parents have been ignored and insulted on a regular basis and to trot us out to rubber stamp the damage that the DOE has done to our schools and children is unconscionable in my mind.
Instead, I will encourage my parent body to individually and as groups make appointments to meet with our representatives in their home offices and explain how parents really feel.
Co-President James Madison HS
Former Region 6 HS Presidents Council President
Former District 22 Presidents Council President
From a teacher:
This was sent to me by a friend who is an ESL teacher. She is in a push in program and the paper work is tremendous...not to mention the "We need it yesterday" demands of the DOE.
It is so hard to imagine what these horrible "Education Leaders" think they are achieving. How sickening to spend so much on "data". Tragically, they are totally losing sight of students. Sheer buffoonery! On the subject of the DOE and buffoonery... don't forget to ask me about the ridiculous messages over the ATS that had me (and many other ESL coordinators) jumping hoops to meet fictitious deadlines while one of the people in charge sipped on Coke at her empty desk and chatted with a friend on the phone whilst failing to respond to our emails and phone calls!! I only wish that someone out there realized how ESL coordinating and teaching don't mesh! Constant "stop and start" teaching just doesn't benefit the students! There are enough natural interruptions during the school day which effect pull-out teachers without the "DOE" assisting. Woosh... I'm venting.
From Hector Nazario, President of CEC D4.
The DOE is closing D4 schools and making plans to replace them, with little input from the community.
February 6, 2008
TO: Representative from the Office for Family Engagement and
Representative from the Office of Portfolio Development
Representative from the Office of Public and Community
Representative from the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
Representative from the Office of Accountability
RE: Consultation and Conversation
Late in 2007 the Department of Education (DOE) announced the closure of
three District 4 schools due to their persistent low performance. Just
prior to the official announcement our Council was contacted and engaged
in conversations, although the decision was already made. The Chief
Accountability Officer gave testimony before the New York City Council's
Committee on Education, that "as in the past, CECs were not consulted
prior to the decision being made, but are now being consulted." This
official statement speaks volumes. If the DOE was free to determine to
consult or not consult the law would not be so specific. We are
outraged! Not only are your actions unacceptable and unlawful, but they
failed to uphold the letter and spirit of the law. Ironically, "...had
Community Education Council for District 4 (CEC4) been consulted we
would have stood by the Chancellor's side."
Today the District Leadership Team (DLT) will participate in another
such conversation with the above mentioned DOE representatives.
Although there is value in conversation there is greater value in
conversations that are part of consultation. The recent series of
conversations are about a year too late. The Office for Family
Engagement and Advocacy (OFEA) took on the responsibility of organizing
the discussions that have taken place thus far. As the department
directly in charge of parent involvement, OFEA needs to get to know our
district in depth and our parents in particular. It is clear to us that
they are unaware of the key players in District 4. For example, 1) some
community based organizations, with a long history of serving our
schools, were left out of the discussion, 2) to date, there has been no
parent representation from affected schools at the meetings, 3) meetings
are poorly promoted, 4) some members of the District Leadership Team
were not invited, 5) OFEA representatives were inexperienced, lacked
interest and comprehension on the significance of the discussion, and
lastly, 6) parent coordinators and district family advocates need to be
kept informed on matters relating to the proposed school closures in
order to address the concerns of parents. Today, at what was literally
the 11th hour, a member of the Office for Family Engagement and Advocacy
called me and offered a breakdown of incoming schools. This disjointed
effort at communicating is not working. CEC members and parents are not
being served like this.
On January 10, 2007 Community Education Council for District 4 passed a
school closure resolution specifically requesting that the DOE notify
the affected community when considering the opening, closing and/or
consolidation of a school (see attachment). This resolution is aligned
with New York State Education Law 2590h and the Federal NCLB Law which
guarantees the meaningful consultation of parents. Suffices to say both
the resolution and the law were ignored.
Child First Reforms
The recent wave of reforms resulted in the creation of network leaders
whose position is designed to enhance the level of support given to
schools. In our opinion, this additional level of responsibility
dilutes the authority of existing school leaders. For the most part
incumbents are newcomers and their unfamiliarity with the school
community they serve weakens their effectiveness. Our district network
leaders have not made themselves known to the CEC nor have we engaged in
Considering that, "strong leaders are at the center of the reforms...
and that they cannot thrive in a system that ties their hands," it is
our recommendation that the DOE seek the expert opinion of our community
superintendent, an experienced educator with a proven track record of
service. He has the pulse of our community as a whole and should be
consulted on issues affecting the schools.
The Child First reforms seek to "provide the options that students and
their families demand." As CEC4 and the District Leadership Team
members prepare to listen to your proposals we devised our own list of
non-negotiable instructional related demands that must be incorporated
into the curriculum of incoming schools:
* Existing District 4 full day Pre-K classes must remain intact
and especially in P. S. 101 which is one of the schools slated for
* P. S. 101 elementary school also has a Kindergarten Dual
Language Program that must be preserved. The Dual Language Program
should be incorporated into the school's curriculum to include all
* Based on District 4's large population of ELL schools'
curriculum should reflect a Dual Language Program. On February 14, 2007
CEC4 passed a Dual Language Resolution "supporting the expansion of the
Literary Mansion Dual Language Program... to include all District 4
schools and grade levels (see attachment).schools and grade levels
deemed educationally appropriate as an effective tool in preparing our
ELL students to reach proficiency on State mandated academic achievement
standards and assessments.
* District 4's special education and bilingual special education
students need exceptional consideration. Our middle schools are
experiencing a shortage of special education seats and graduating
elementary school (special education) students are not guaranteed a
seat. Incoming schools must make adequate accommodation in this area.
JHS 117 which is slated for closure has handicap accessible ramps for
physically challenged students that must be preserved.
* District 4 students must not be deprived of a high quality
educational experience that includes a curriculum that is augmented by
instructions in arts to include, but not limited to, dance, music and
art appreciation classes.
* Prior to their opening incoming schools must consult affected
parents, CEC4, Community Board 11, community based organizations and
State and Local elected officials.
The fabric of our community is changing. Gentrification has widened the
social and economic gap of East Harlem. An affluent and mostly
childless population of urban professionals is moving into luxury
condominiums while poor working class families are being forced out. A
pattern of decreasing enrollment rates supports our belief that we are
losing our community and will ultimately lose our schools. The negative
variance between the projected and actual enrollment rates has resulted
in District 4 schools having to return funds. As we consider the
current state of our schools, and the adverse effect of budget
reductions, we question how our district schools will be able meet the
academic needs of our students and what measures are in place to prevent
additional schools from failing? In light of the school closings, what
strategies are in place to support the instructional practices of
District 4 schools? What criteria did the DOE utilize to determine
adequacy of incoming schools and will they enjoy an unfair advantage
over existing District 4 schools as it relates to equipment, space,
teacher-to-student ratio, and overall resources? We are concerned for
the morale of the teaching and school staff as well. Has there been
ample information offered on the transition process? What options, if
any, are available and what efforts are being made to retain staff
Elected Officials and Community Board Members
CEC4 looks towards our elected officials and community board members on
issues impacting our community. With one or two exceptions, you failed
to express your indignation at the lack of respect. Are we to assume
that you had prior knowledge and opted to express no opposition, or
worst, the news failed to impact you? How are you supporting public
education in East Harlem? This is a crucial community issue; yet, many
of you opted to be represented at meetings by inexperienced staff
members. The DOE has demonstrated little regard for our community and
your position. To remain silent now would constitute nothing short of
neglect of duty on your part. Stand up for East Harlem's children by
demanding that our rights be respected.
CECs and CPAC
Lack of parental consultation is not unique to District 4. To our
colleagues who are serving on Community Education Councils we encourage
you to join us in raising your voice in objection. Parent leaders
serving on the Chancellors' Parent Advisory Council (CPAC) are asked to
raise their voices on this topic as well. The Federal and State law
mandate to consult parents needs to be placed on the CPAC agenda
immediately and should be revisited periodically in order to assess
compliance. There needs to be a strong message of opposition. The
adoption of a School Closure Resolution (see attached resolution) on a
district level by all CECs, and on a citywide level by CPAC members
would be an unprecedented show of unity. Our collective interest is to
even the playing field by securing the delivery of a sound education for
all New York City public school students; impossible without parental
consultation and a united front of parent leaders.
Community Based Organizations
In our opinion, our community based organizations (CBOs) have through
the years become complacent. Our CBOs need to have a renewed spirit of
interest matched by proactive, committed action. Among other
strategies, you should continually analyze the needs of the community
you serve and synthesize your findings by identifying specific areas of
need for intervention.
CEC4's advocacy efforts is fueled by our resolve to ensure that students
have an equal chance at obtaining a high quality education, the
empowerment of parents, and holding persons in position of
responsibility accountable. This communication is not requesting that
the DOE extend Community District Education Councils the courtesy of
consultation, it demands it. Accountability in the public education
sector should foster an environment where business practices reflect a
high standard of conduct which, at a minimum, includes the principles of
equity, empowerment, transparency, informed decision-making and strict
adherence to governing statutes for all.
As an initial step in the arduous process of changing the culture of the
system we highly recommend the renaming of the TWEED Courthouse.
Adopting a name that is synonymous with corruption and greed is highly
inappropriate and out of sync with the principles of accountability.
Once again we state for the record that CEC4 seeks to foster good
working relations with all parties, but in order for this to happen we
must demonstrate mutual respect for each other and the statutes that
govern our activities. As a lasting thought we recall the words of
Edward Abbey who said, "absence of the law... is the beginning of
tyranny." The question begs, and when the law exist and ignored, what
do we have instead? You fill in the blank!
Thank you for your time. It is my sincerest desire that future dialogue
will be one of a consultative nature. Should you wish to discuss this
further please feel free to contact me directly at (347) 672-6174 or via
email at HRNazario@aol.HRN
Hector R. Nazario