Saturday, January 30, 2010

Here is what the Queens PEP member, Dmytro Fedkowskyj, said just before the 3:30 a.m. vote on Wednesday morning:

Good morning Chancellor Klein, members of the Panel and members of the public. First, I want to thank my colleagues, parents and everybody at the DOE for their dedicated time on this delicate, but necessary topic. I've dedicated many hours to this matter. I listened to the community outcry during their public hearings. I held parent meetings in Queens in order to get a better understanding of the school community concerns and the effect this decision would have on those Queens communities. It was important to understand the topic in order to make an informed decision.

As many of you know, I take my role seriously, and have done so since being first appointed to this board 2 years ago.

I believe that is why I was selected by Borough President, Helen Marshall, to serve as her representative and the communities' advocate during these public meetings.

We are here, whether appointed by the mayor or by different borough presidents, and together we face monthly decisions that at the end of the day affect more than a million students. We need to be mindful of that role, whether it's in front of a standing room auditorium, or in the near empty rooms that are far more common for these meetings.

Our task is still the same.

To safeguard student interests without making a hasty decision.

I don't believe that simply following the letter of the law is what was expected of the Department when our state elected officials called for hearings on these major matters of concern.

I don't believe the intent of that legislation was for a DOE official to sit in the front of the room, simply to let those most affected vent their frustrations.

I also don't believe the intent was for families and community members to have none of their concerns addressed, while answering none of their questions.

That can't be what the legislature envisioned these school hearings to be.

Communication is a key component to a successful proposal and listening goes along way too… The DOE needed to consult and listen to those who would be most affected by these proposals.

"Listen" means to "hear," but also to digest and to allow the information to have an affect on our opinions and thought process.

I went to those school hearings to do just that.

To listen.

To learn.

And I believe I did.

There very well may come a time when I will raise my hand in support of one of these schools being closed.

But I am not there yet, not because I think closing a school should never be a considered choice, but because I think in order to get to that point, we must first ensure it is THE LAST CHOICE.

And, so Mr. Chairman, on behalf of Queens and the Borough President, tonight I vote No and urge my colleagues to do the same.

Thank you.

Dmytro Fedkowskyj
Panel for Educational Policy
Queens Representative
Borough President Appointee

Friday, January 29, 2010

Almost All Queens HS on State Hit List

State Education Department eyes closure of Newtown High School

Friday, January 29th 2010, 11:35 AM

Newtown High School in Elmhurst is one of 10 Queens high schools the state Education Department has deemed "persistently lowest achieving."
Bates for News
Newtown High School in Elmhurst is one of 10 Queens high schools the state Education Department has deemed "persistently lowest achieving."

More Queens high schools are facing the axe - this time, wielded by the state.

But, students, alumni and community members vowed on Wednesday to fight the possible closure of Newtown High School in Elmhurst - one of 10 Queens high schools the state Education Department has deemed "persistently lowest achieving."

"This is not a done deal," vowed state Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D-East Elmhurst), who rallied the crowd at an impassioned meeting in the 113-year-old school's auditorium.

Those on the state's hit list of 34 schools citywide have four options: They can be turned around by replacing the principal and half of the staff; transformed by rewarding staff who boost student achievement; become charter schools or simply shut down.

"We identified those schools whose performance in English, language arts and mathematics were the lowest in the state and failed to show progress or schools who have had graduation rates below 60%," said Ira Schwartz, the state Education Department's assistant commissioner for accountability.

Action plans could be due by late spring.

"The bottom line is we need to create new programs for students that will result in increased graduation rates," Schwartz said.

Newtown Principal John Ficalora blamed his school's 53% four-year graduation rate on the fact that his students hail from 100 countries and speak 59 languages. This, he said, makes it difficult for many of them to graduate on time.

Richmond Hill High School Principal Frances De Sanctis was saddened when she learned her school was also in jeopardy.

"We're already in transformation here," she said.

The school went from earning an "F" on the city progress reports in 2008 to a "C" last year.

"It would be a shame if they closed," said 11th-grader Alejandra Almonte, 16, of Corona. "They are trying to make the school better."

The other Queens schools on the list are Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood, Queens Vocational-Technical High School in Long Island City, Flushing High School, August Martin High School in Jamaica, Beach Channel High School in Rockaway Beach, John Adams High School in Ozone Park, Jamaica High School and Long Island City High School.

Beach Channel and Jamaica are already slated for closure by the city.

With Darren Tobia

Paul Moore: Changing Face of the Enemy

Something the valiant but outgunned defenders of public education in the United States must now consider is the changed face of the enemy. The oligarchs; Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton Family, the Bush Family, Michael Bloomberg and the CEO's represented in the Business Roundtable, have directed the assault on public schools for the past two decades. They were supremely confident they could bring to fruition Milton Friedman's dream of education turned into a highly profitable industry. As it turned out though, they were cursed with an Achilles Heel. Their plan was inextricably bound to the fate of a global capitalist economy.

That global capitalist economy is over now. Why? For one, because globalization was so successful in its brief heyday. It penetrated every market on the planet. It stomped out the Soviet Union and took control of the Russian economy. And who ever imagined China, closed off to the West not thirty years ago, could become the largest market for a big-ticket consumer good like automobiles in 2009? For another, globalization found the absolute lowest wage possible in the undeveloped world. The profit addicts bumped right up against outright slavery and where possible went over the edge. Today more human beings are in bondage than anytime in human history.

But the system's success exhausted the possibilities for growth. And growth is its lifeblood. Growth kept it healthy and dynamic. When that growth became impossible capitalism turned inward. It began feeding on itself. That's when Wall Street turned Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers and the other investment banks into casinos. That's when M.I.T. trained mathematicians were summoned to make investment vehicles into computer generated logarithms beyond human comprehension. Since no more real wealth was being created the bankers were forced to resort to alchemy, in the form of derivatives, to give the appearance of wealth creation. Meanwhile, the truly productive corporate entities, even the largest of them, began being interned. R.I.P General Motors!

The other thing a global economy had to have if it was going to work was a plentiful and cheap supply of oil. If the world is not now on the downside of the Peak Oil curve, its close enough for government work in the US, China, India, Russia, the EU. Rulers in these developed and developing countries have begun to act along those lines. For instance, the US won't be getting out of the Middle East anytime soon because it is a major source of a dwindling world oil supply. US military presence there has nothing to do with politician's silly bleatings over "underwear bombers" or terrorism. And for another instance, economic nationalism, in the form of US tariffs on Chinese steel to give one example, is the wave of the future. Globalization cannot withstand the end of free trade or oil driven trade but it faces both simultaneously. It will crash and burn as a result.

A US soldier or two, away from the harrowing places they have been sent to secure oil, given time to consider, has probably wondered why their government has contracted with Blackwater now Xe-type mercenaries at ten times the price to pull duties once assigned to them. It is completely absurd on its face. The product of a hidden agenda is always absurdity. Globalization, which seeks privatization of all things, is that agenda.

Teachers across this country have come to live everyday with this absurdity. Incessant testing with no relation to the real world, the mindless collection of trivia classified as data, forcing a "business model" like Enron or Lehman Brothers or General Motors on the public schools, driving the arts and the social sciences out of the curriculum, and watching every Chancellor, Superintendent, Commissioner, and Secretary of Education promote charter schools over their own public schools at every turn. Absurd! But again the product of a hidden agenda is always absurdity.

Because we are bombarded with it by the corporate media, there is the temptation to believe the global economy will enjoy a "recovery" and the US will visit even greater heights of material prosperity. This is a delusion that is being foisted on the American people. It's part of a scam. There is no rational reason for this system to be revived and there are oligarchs, and people at Goldman Sachs, and people in the US government and military that know this. They have left behind some functionaries in the public schools, "dead-enders" like Michelle Rhee in Washington D.C. and Joel Klein in NYC to soldier on with the corporate catechism. They have not bothered to demobilize the cults created to undermine the public schools; Teach For America, Green Dot and KIPP charter schools, but the true believers and their cults are no longer a credible threat.

The new danger appears in the rise of the seamless melding of the corporation and the state in the US. The corporate-state was certified as constitutional by the US Supreme Court in its recent decision on corporate campaign financing. The new reality is reflected in the unprecedented amount of money Secretary of Education Arne Duncan suddenly has at his disposal to undermine the public schools. Duncan has put the 50 states in a competition he calls the Race To The Top, to become the most effective at destroying public education and advancing the charter school movement. Duncan will spread over $4-billion among the "winning" states. The denial of funds is expected to finish off public education in the "losing" states.

Some people are confused as to why President Obama's education policy is indistinguishable from that of George W. Bush. Well both are either willing servants or hostages of the same masters. In the transition from one administration to the next the bankers takeover of the US treasury never missed a beat. The military, one of the pillars of the corporate-state, allowed President Obama the public perception of choice on Afghanistan. But Gen. Stanley McCrystal was ordering not requesting more troops. Another pillar of the corporate-state, the insurance companies and pharmaceuticals, have humored Obama with the idea they would allow national health care reform. They've tired of the theatrics and ordered up Scott Brown in Massachusetts the other day to bring the curtain down on it.

In regards to the public schools and every other vestige of democracy in US society the corporate-state is the last stage where fighting back will be possible. Next comes the national curriculum from Winston Smith's world. It's resistance now or never.

Paul A. Moore
Public School Teacher

Monday, January 25, 2010

Parent, Student, and Teacher Protesters Demand Explanation

For Immediate Release:

January 24, 2010

Contact: Norman Siegel at 347-907-0867, Julie Cavanagh at 917-838-6465

Parent, Student, and Teacher Protesters Demand Explanation

Last Thursday afternoon, January 21, on E. 79 St., across from the mayor’s mansion, parents, students and teachers peacefully protested against the Bloomberg Administration’s proposals to force mass closings of public schools and their takeover by charter schools. They were exercising their constitutional right under the First Amendment to publicly demand that these policies that undermine the public school system and deprive their children of an adequate education be stopped.

Meanwhile, a reporter on the scene caught on videotape the actions of police who were taking photographs of the protesters from the roof and inside a private school across the street. In 1985, the federal court ruled that it is illegal and a violation of civil rights for the New York City police to take photos of protesters, unless they have cause to believe that a crime may be committed. The city signed a consent agreement that year, restricting police surveillance according to these rules, called the Handschu Guidelines. In the case of this peaceful protest, there was no such cause. The video is available on YouTube at

The protesters are asking for a full explanation as to why the pictures were taken and how the police plan to use the photos. The protestors also want to know whether any videotaping of them was done. Finally, they are considering filing a complaint with Judge Charles S. Haight Jr., the federal judge who has continuing jurisdiction over the enforcement of the Handschu Guidelines.

Lydia Bellahcene, a parent at PS 15 in Red Hook Brooklyn where the DOE is proposing an extension of a charter school co-location, said, “Mayor Bloomberg and his cohorts can not be allowed to dismantle public education. I am outraged that there was this kind of surveillance at a peaceful protest of mothers and others. We broke no laws, and the NYPD should not be allowed to violate the laws for Mayor Bloomberg’s benefit either. The mayor and the NYPD should get used to these protests, because I and mothers across the city will be doing it again.”

Rachel Ali, student at Maxwell High School, said: “Major Bloomberg has gone too far! He is being undemocratic in his actions as if to say that he is an exception to the rules of this nation. Rules are created to maintain order and he has already broken the law by running for a third term. How much corruption can there be in one city, where the major can destroy the public school system because he thinks his way is better! His illegal surveillances are another example of his mindset. He thinks he can do whatever he wants and that the people of New York will simply accept his actions, but he is wrong. We will stand for what we believe in.”

Lisa Donlan, public school parent and the President of the Community Education Council of District 1 on the Lower East Side, said: “The illegal surveillance of a peaceful group of orderly, organized protesters is yet another example of this administration's autocratic and unreasonable rejection of the voices of parents, students, teachers and taxpaying citizens in this city. Mayoral control has already attenuated our opinions to the point of irrelevance; by treading on our basic First Amendment rights to gather and protest peacefully last week this Mayor has once again shown his true colors: they are NOT red, white and blue.”

Khem Irby, public school parent and education advocate said, “In light of the fact that our Mayor does not have the potter's touch to fix what he has perfectly broken for seven years, I request an immediate halt in these public school closings. The board of education should take the challenge to be more creative with the communities and plant the resources to revitalize those schools. This act is an admission that the job is too hard for him. Breaking the law is not the answer either.”

"This type of intimidation and undemocratic action by the mayor is the very reason why the community believes he is destroying public education. No matter how good the intentions, when one man shuts out the voices of the community, and believes that his beliefs should have special status above all others: whether it concerns first amendment rights, decisions regarding public education, or the legal use of the police force - it is a danger to the very essence of our democratic ideals,” said Seung Ok, teacher at Maxwell Vocational high school in Brooklyn, a school which the administration has slated for closure.

“The intense police force and surveillance of a peaceful group of parent, student, and teacher protesters last Thursday highlights a clear attempt by Mayor Bloomberg’s Administration to silence and intimidate stakeholders in education policy. The hallmark of this Administration has been to deny and disenfranchise the voices of parents in the debates surrounding school policies, such as school closings and charter school invasions. This is a clear intent to dissuade active participation in advocacy efforts on their children’s behalf,” says Julie Cavanagh, teacher PS 15, “We view these actions as a violation of our civil liberties and will continue in our struggle to protect our children’s public education system and our First Amendment rights.”

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Parents protest charter school growth in Harlem

Harlem is the battleground for charter school wars.

By Sarah Darville

Published Thursday 21 January 2010 02:56am EST.

View post history

CHARTERED | An audience member touches on the problems inherent in local charter schools.

Joy Resmovits for Spectator

Harlem is the battleground for charter school wars.

This was the theme of the Community Education Council meeting on Jan. 20 for Manhattan School District 3, which includes Upper West Side and West Harlem schools. Parents and school officials who attended the meeting at P.S. 242 on 122nd Street expressed anger over the inequalities between charter schools and traditional public schools which often share building space.

It is a particularly contentious issue in Harlem, where parents said that public school space has been reduced to bring in charter schools, which are public schools accountable to the Department of Education, but run by an outside not-for-profit board. Some opponents said the charters were unfairly receiving more space and resources. “My children go to the gym in a box, eat lunch in a box. There are no windows,” said P.S. 149 parent Sonya Hampton, adding, “We need to stand up for what’s right.”

Elizabeth Rose, director of portfolio planning for the Department of Education, fielded questions and concerns from the council and neighborhood parents.
Rose said that the DOE is working with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer in a series of “war room” discussions, in which different parties were brought together to find solutions to the overcrowding problem.

Discussion about overcrowding on the Upper West Side centered on increased enrollment, while the debate about schools above 110th Street surrounded the rising charter school tensions. Of 29 Manhattan charter schools listed on the New York City Charter School Center’s website, 24 are located north of 96th Street.

Rose said that representatives from schools that share space met in December, and recently launched group walk-throughs of schools to assess space divisions. “We’ve been taking hours going through these schools, opening closets, opening maintenance rooms looking for space,” she said.

Noah Gotbaum, president of the Community Education Council, said he just wanted to ensure a level playing field when schools share space.

“We know you can’t put five schools in and make them work equitably,” he said. “A lot of our public school students are coming last.”

LaShawn Pressley, PTA secretary at P.S. 242, said, “As a Harlem school parent, I don’t know how the DOE will expand charter schools when they’re not diligent in giving to public schools. It seems that they’re favoring charter schools but turning around and saying you’re just as important,” she said.

Rose responded that the standards were the same for opening a district or charter school. “We use the same standards to site schools of all types … DOE schools get funded based on enrollment—enrollment goes up, and resources go up,” she said.

New York State Senator Bill Perkins, who represents parts of Harlem, spoke at the meeting, saying that the tensions are rising. “It’s important to me that the charter school problem is addressed. It’s an uptown phenomenon, where we have charter school wars … Incumbent parents at schools that had the intent to expand are now at war with their neighbors,” he said.

One Harlem public school teacher, who requested anonymity to protect her job, cast blame directly on the DOE.

“The problem is more with the DOE than the charter schools … Over the past four to five years in Harlem schools, the DOE has decreased enrollment, taken away programs, and then come knocking with charter schools, saying ‘you’ve got all this extra space,’” she said.

Gale Brewer, a New York City Council member who represents the Upper West Side, said in an interview that though she doesn’t have any charter schools in her district, between West 54th and 96th Streets, it’s still a concern. “The issue of space, taking over public schools, it’s a killer for public schools. They say they don’t have money for space but they shouldn’t be taking over,” she said.

Rose said that the DOE is ready to host another uptown “war room” as soon as possible.

“By the way, we do agree with those parents who would like to rename them ‘peace talks,” she said. “We’re all trying to get the same things done.”

Friday, January 22, 2010

Letter from MBP Stringer to Joel Klein asking for a postponement of the PEP vote on school closures

January 20, 2010

Joel I. Klein


New York City Department of Education

52 Chambers Street

New York, New York 10007

Dear Chancellor Klein:

I am writing to request that you postpone the vote on school closures by the panel on

Educational Policy (the "PEP" or "Panel") now scheduled for January 26, 2010.

I have reviewed the information provided by the Department of Education to the pEp and

concluded that it does not provide an adequate basis for the Panel to make informed decisions

about closures that will affect thousands of public school students and their families.

As you know, the January 26 meeting will be the first PEP meeting on school closures mandated

by the new Department of Education authorizing legislation enacted last year. So while I am

deeply concemed about pending decisions regarding specific schools, I am equally concerned

that we establish a precedent for the school closure process that produces positive outcomes,

earns the trust of the city's public school families, and adheres to the new law.

At a minimum, therefore, the Panel must have before it a standard set of comprehensive data for

each school slated for closure. The information should allow for (a) a meaningful comparison of

schools within the group being considered for closure; and (b) a comparison between the schools

presently facing closure and other schools deemed to be succeeding.

Clearly, nothing approaching that kind of information is available to the PEP at this point.

  • More than half of the 20 schools facing closure appear not to have received the failing

grades that DOE indicated would drive the decision to close a school, and no altemative

justification has been offered.

  • Twelve of the 20 schools facing closure have received a quality review rating of

"proficient," and no explanation has been offered for the inadequacy of this performance.

  • No rationale has been provided for considering the closure of schools only recently put

under the leadership of new principals. For example, Mr. Phillip Martin was installed as

the new principal of Manhattan's Norman Thomas High School at the beginning of the

current school year and has by all accounts made quick and substantial progress in '

reforming the school. Nonetheless, in December, just four months into his tenure, the

decision was made to put Norman Thomas High School on the school closure list.

  • Despite repeated requests my PEP appointee, Patrick Sullivan, has made for data,

including student discharge codes that would allow for a better understanding of where

Special Education, ELL and other students end up when their schools close, the DOE has

not been forthcoming with this information in a timely manner.

I'm certain you know that there is a rising tide of anger and fear among parents regarding school

closings. Some believe that the Department of Education is using school closures as a first, not a

last resort in its efforts to reform public education in New York City. This begs the question,

what progress would be achieved at struggling schools by mentoring teachers, adding afterschool

programs, providing more tutoring, and reducing class size?

Others worry that English Language Learners and special education students, the most

vulnerable populations in our public schools, will bear the brunt of school closings, and that their

well-being may be sacrificed to advance the Department's reforms. Still others are concerned

that if DOE turns its back on certain schools, it is only a short step to an approach that abandons

certain students and the bedrock public school principle that every child can learn and every

child must be taught.

We now have the opportunity to disabuse parents of these worries and put the school closure

process on solid footing. But to make that happen, the PEP's first consideration of school

closures must be conducted in a manner that is fully transparent and provides Panel members

with all the necessary information to reach proper decisions about which of our schools to close.

Please postpone next week's PEP vote on school closures.


Scott M. Stringer

Manhattan Borough President

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

PRESS RELEASE: NYCLU, ACLU File Class Action Lawsuit Against NYPD Over Excessive Force, Wrongful Arrests in New York City's Schools

New York Civil Liberties Union / American Civil Liberties Union

125 Broad Street, New York, NY 10004 /


Jennifer Carnig, 212.607.3363 /

Will Matthews, 212.549.2582 or 2666 /

Note: Video and the complaint are available by visiting

NYCLU, ACLU File Class Action Lawsuit Against NYPD Over Excessive Force, Wrongful Arrests in New York City’s Schools


January 20, 2010 – NYPD personnel assigned to New York City’s public schools have repeatedly violated students’ civil rights through wrongful arrests and the excessive use of force, according to a class action federal lawsuit filed today by the New York Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union and the law firm of Dorsey & Whitney LLP.

The landmark lawsuit challenges the conduct and behavior of police officers and school safety officers (SSOs) serving in the NYPD’s School Safety Division. It was filed on behalf of five middle school and high school students who were physically abused and wrongfully arrested at school by NYPD personnel. The plaintiffs seek system-wide reform in New York City’s middle schools and high schools.

“Aggressive policing is stripping thousands of New York City students of their dignity and disrupting their ability to learn,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “We all want safe schools for our children, but the current misguided system promotes neither safety nor learning. Despite mounting evidence of systemic misconduct by police personnel in the schools, the NYPD refuses to even acknowledge any problems with its school policing practices. We are confident that the courts will compel much-needed reform.”

Plaintiff Daija, 13, is an eighth-grade student at Lou Gehrig Middle School in the Bronx. On Oct. 7, 2009, Daija was unlawfully arrested by SSOs following a confrontation in front of her school initiated by two adult strangers who had threatened her. An SSO instructed Daija to go into the school with the strangers. Frightened, Daija told the SSO that she preferred to wait outside for her mother who was coming to pick her up.

In response, the SSO grabbed Daija by the arm, handcuffed her, forcefully threw her down and pinned her to the ground. Daija sat handcuffed at a desk until her mother managed to find her. No charges were filed against her. Daija required medical attention as a result of the assault.

“I feel unsafe at school,” Daija said. “I’m afraid that School Safety Officers could attack me again for no reason. I just want the school year to be over so I can be a normal kid again. I shouldn’t have to be scared of school.”

The lawsuit maintains that inadequately trained and poorly supervised police personnel engage in aggressive behavior toward students when no criminal activity is taking place and when there is no threat to health and safety. The police confront and arrest students over minor disciplinary infractions such as talking back, being late for class or having a cell phone in school. The lawsuit documents numerous incidents in which students engaged in non-criminal conduct were handcuffed, arrested and physically assaulted by police personnel at school.

The aggressive policing in the city’s schools contributes to the school to prison pipeline, a disturbing national trend wherein students are funneled out of the public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. These children tend to be disproportionately black and Latino, and often have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse or neglect.

“If you treat children like criminals, they will fulfill those expectations,” said Catherine Y. Kim, staff attorney with the ACLU Racial Justice Program. “Aggressive policing in public schools undermines efforts to create a nurturing and supportive environment for children, and without strict accountability and transparency, too many at-risk youth fall through the cracks and are denied equal educational opportunities.”

Since the NYPD took control of public school safety in New York City in 1998, more than 5,000 SSOs, civilian NYPD employees assigned to the schools, and nearly 200 armed police officers have been assigned to the city’s public schools. This massive presence makes the NYPD’s School Safety Division the nation’s fifth largest police force – larger than the police forces in Washington D.C., Detroit, Boston, Baltimore, Dallas, Phoenix, San Francisco, San Diego or Las Vegas. The number of police personnel assigned to patrol New York City public schools has grown by 73 percent since the transfer of school safety to the NYPD, even though school crime was declining prior to the 1998 transfer and even though student enrollment is at its lowest point in more than a decade.

SSOs wear NYPD uniforms and possess the authority to stop, frisk, question, search and arrest students. While NYPD police officers must complete a six-month training course before being deployed, SSOs receive only 14 weeks of training before being assigned to schools. School administrators have no supervisory authority over the SSOs who patrol their schools.

“When one of our clients was 11 years old, she was handcuffed and perp-walked into a police precinct for doing nothing more than doodling on a desk in erasable ink. Amazingly, no one in the police department or the school seemed to think there was anything wrong with that,” said Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, senior attorney at Dorsey & Whitney and co-counsel on the case. “It’s a sad day when you need to resort to a lawsuit to keep an 11-year-old from being arrested for drawing on her desk, but in this case it is clear there is no alternative.”

From 2002 to June 2007, the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau received 2,670 complaints against members of NYPD’s School Safety Division – about 500 complaints annually – even though no effective or publicized mechanism exists for lodging complaints against school safety officers. Families that have lodged complaints against SSOs have reported that, in response, the NYPD simply transfers those SSOs to different public schools. Additionally, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates allegations of police misconduct, has reported that the NYPD receives about 1,200 complaints a year about SSOs.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, seeks the following remedies:

  • A return of disciplinary decisions traditionally dealt with by school administrators to New York City’s school administrators.

  • Mandatory training of SSOs regarding conduct relating to arrests, searches and the use of force. Officers must get training for working in an educational environment and must be taught the difference between the penal code and the disciplinary code when it comes to arresting students.

  • A transparent and meaningful mechanism for students and parents to file complaints against members of the NYPD’s School Safety Division.

  • Revision of the policies and procedures regarding discipline of members of the NYPD’s School Safety Division who are found to have committed abuses, including their removal from having future contact with youth where appropriate.

Among those who worked on the case include Lieberman, Kim and Colangelo-Bryan as well as Arthur Eisenberg, Adriana Piñón, Udi Ofer, Johanna Miller, Kathryn Hunt Muse, Naomi Shatz, Deuel Ross and Angela Jones.

To read the full complaint or watch a video featuring plaintiff Daija Young, visit

- xxx -

Jennifer Carnig

Communications Director

New York Civil Liberties Union

125 Broad St., 19th Floor

New York, NY 10004


845.553.0349 (cell)

Detroit Teachers Union Meeting --Video--Jan 14, 2010

The following is a summary (with video) of the Detroit teachers union membership meeting Thursday, January 14th, 2010.

Background Note: The DFT Executive Board had voted the night before to dismiss the 1300 member petition signatures calling for Johnson's recall, though the recall process in our union constitution gives them NO authority on this matter, and says that only 1000 signatures are needed. The recall is based on Johnson's numerous violations of his obligations of office, stemming from his efforts to impose the Arne Duncan anti-public education "reforms" on Detroit Public Schools and its teachers.

Johnson began the membership meeting seen in these videos by ruling all 3 of our motions out of order. The three motions were as follows: (1) to set the date of Johnson's hearing and recall vote for the February 11th membership meeting, (2) to relieve Johnson or all duties and obligations as President until that recall vote; (3) for the DFT to support the lawsuit against the TIP $250 forced "loan" from Detroit teachers' next 40 paychecks.

After Johnsons ruled us out of order, we appealed that decision to the body, as is our right under Robert's Rules of Order and our union By-laws. The vast majority of the meeting voted with us and against Johnson.
Johnson then ignored that vote, and tried to get his agenda adopted. But the overwhelming majority voted DOWN his agenda.
Johnson then announced that his agenda had passed, and the crowd erupted in an angry roar and began chanting for his removal. See video:
Johnson then left the room, and we voted to adopt the two motions regarding his removal from office (motions #1 and # 2 above). Johnson then came back into the room with members of the Detroit Police Gang Squad.
Johnson then tried to unilaterally adjourn the meeting without a motion or vote to do so, in violation of our by-laws and Robert's rules. See video:
DFT members continued the meeting. We voted for the union to join the lawsuit against the TIP $250. (motion #3 above)
We urge all members to attend the February 11th DFT General Membership Meeting, at which time we will hold the hearing and take the vote on Johnson's recall.
If you would like to file a wage complaint against the TIP, email
The Committee to Defend Public Education meets each Saturday at 4:00 pm at Gracious Savior Lutheran Church; 19484 James Couzens, Detroit.

Nothing Schools Chancellor Joel Klein can say will calm the furor and sense of betrayal parents and teachers at Public School 15 in Brooklyn have felt

Juan Gonzalez

Public School 15 in Brooklyn one of many struggling against charter schools

Wednesday, January 20th 2010, 4:00 AM

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has some parents and teachers from Public School 15 in a fury.
Smith for News
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has some parents and teachers from Public School 15 in a fury.

Nothing Schools Chancellor Joel Klein can say will calm the furor and sense of betrayal parents and teachers at Public School 15 in Brooklyn have felt for the past few weeks.

"There is a deliberate attempt [by Klein] to undermine and dismantle a successful public school, and we're going to fight it," Lydia Bellahcene, a leader of the Parents Association and mother of three students at the Red Hook school, vowed Tuesday.

The target here is not a failed school. Even the bureaucrats at Tweed have given PS 15 an A rating for three straight years.

Yet, parents at the school find themselves locked in a neighborhood civil war instigated by the Department of Education. Their nemesis is PAVE Academy, a charter school that shares their building but keeps demanding more space.

The same conflict is being fought out in scores of New York City neighborhoods.

It is one of the main reasons Democratic lawmakers in Albany Tuesday rebuffed intense pressure from Klein, Mayor Bloomberg, Gov. Paterson - even from the Obama White House - to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state.

The lawmakers did so even though they risked the state's losing hundreds of million of dollars in "Race to the Top" federal school aid.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) showed the most courage. He was prepared to lift the cap, but only if Klein and other school superintendents agreed to some checks and balances. Among those were new regulations requiring approval from public school parents before space in their school could be turned over to a charter.

Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson of Brooklyn tried to act with Silver but couldn't muster a majority in his closely divided and dysfunctional Senate.

So Silver and Sampson decided no bill is better than a bad one. So the cap on charters stays at 200 statewide.

The parents at PS 15 know the importance of having a real voice. A few years ago, Klein's aides announced they were temporarily installing the new PAVE Academy in their school. It was only for two years, Tweed told PS 15, until the charter could find its own building.

PAVE happens to be run by Spencer Robertson, the son of billionaire Julian Robertson. The father's foundation donated $10 million to various educational reform efforts Klein started.

"We were shocked at the arrogance we were met with when they [PAVE] arrived, as if this building was theirs," Bellahcene said. "They insisted on separate entrances, stairwells and even bathrooms for their students. They even discourage their children from talking to ours."

"I'm sorry they feel that way," PAVE director Robertson said Tuesday. "We believe firmly there is room for our two schools to be successful with co-location. We're working on that."

And he's banking on a lot more time.

A few months ago, the Department of Education suddenly reversed itself and announced plans for PAVE to stay at PS 15 for up to five more years - until Robertson erects a brand new building for his school.

Since PAVE only has kindergarten to second grade, that will mean adding new grades each year, which means more classrooms.

"They are forcing PS 15's enrollment to shrink," one teacher said. "There aren't enough rooms in the building for basic programming."

All the things that made Public School 15 a true jewel for the children of Red Hook are being torn apart, the parents say.

If this is what Klein calls a race to the top, someone save them from it, quick.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

State Senate President Malcolm Smith gave $100 G in state funds to Queens school he founded

Smith has had his eye on Beach Channel all along. One of the clearest cases of the political manipulation aspect of school closings. These guys should really be removed with their coats over their heads.

State Senate President Malcolm Smith gave $100 G in state funds to Queens school he founded

Sunday, January 17th 2010, 4:00 AM

Related News

State Senate President Malcolm Smith steered $100,000 in state funds to a Queens charter school he helped found, the Daily News has learned.

The money was earmarked this budget year for educational programs at Peninsula Preparatory Academy Charter School in Far Rockaway.

Smith was a founder of the school, which was chartered in 2004, and an original board member. His spokesman said he divested ties to the school when he became Senate minority leader in November 2006.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), a close ally of Smith's, is still listed as a board member.

In 2006 and 2007, Smith received a total of $12,000 in campaign donations from Steven Klinsky, who founded the school's management company, Victory Schools Inc.

Victory has been the school's management company since 2004, according to a company official. The charter school's latest tax documents show it paid $762,322 in management fees.

While there does not appear to be anything illegal about Smith's steering tax money to the school from local assistance funds that he controls, the move raised some eyebrows.

"I don't know if it's inappropriate under the law, but it points to the influence the charter school association has on the crafting of legislation as a real special interest," said Richard Ianuzzi, president of the powerful state teachers' union.

Charter schools are publicly financed but privately run.

"Sen. Smith has been completely divested from any involvement in the governance and administration of the school for" about four years, Smith spokesman Austin Shafran said.

Peninsula Preparatory Academy Principal Ericka Wala said the school, which aims to "create a challenging, technology-rich learning environment," has yet to receive the $100,000, which is earmarked for computers.

Wala said Smith has no direct involvement with the school. She referred all other questions to school board chairwoman Betty Leon, who could not be reached for comment.

Victory officials said that Klinsky's donations were meant as a show of support for Smith's pro-charter school stance. Smith recently introduced a bill to double the amount of charters allowed under law.

Read more:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bronx Community Rallies to Save Columbus High School: Public Hearing Draws More Than 1,000 Participants

Bronx Community Rallies to Save Columbus High School: Public Hearing Draws More Than 1,000 Participants

By Mary Heglar
January 11, 2010 | Posted in IndyBlog | Email this article

More than 1,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents poured into Christopher Columbus High School Thursday night to express their opposition to the Department of Education’s proposal to phase out the northeast Bronx school.

The hearing began promptly at 6:00 pm with the reading of the Department of Education’s Educational Impact Statement (EIS) from a DOE delegate. The statement claimed that the school lacked the capacity to bring its students to grade level, that there was low demand for the school, and that the school had underperformed consistently on DOE-administered progress reports. The DOE announced plans in December to close a total of 21 schools including 16 high schools.

The Columbus Family

Each statement elicited loud boos and hisses from the highly energized crowd, which was directed to the cafeteria after the auditorium filled at 6:10 pm. More than once, the crowd erupted into chants of “Save our school! Save our school!” Many of those present wore white T-shirts with black letters that read, “A Member of the Columbus Family” on the back – some also spray painted “Save Our School” on the front.

School District 11 Superintendent Elizabeth White of School District 11 wore the T-shirt. She told audience members, “I want to apologize to you all because this is the first time I was asked to be a part of this process and I am here to represent you all and your concerns.” The crowd erupted in applause as she took her seat on the panel which sat at a table in front of the stage facing the audience.

Located in Pelham Parkway at 925 Astor Avenue, Columbus HS opened in 1938 and serves 1,400 students whose families hail from dozens of countries. Since 2004, it has shared its six-story building with four other smaller schools including Global Enterprise Academy, also slated for closure. The DOE’s announced plan to phase out a total of 21 schools, including 16 high schools, has sparked vociferous opposition in a number of communities across the city.

Many of the hearing attendees had joined a march around the school grounds before the hearing with
placards reading “For Sale: Columbus High School” and “Save Our School.” The protest organizers had filed for a permit to march in the adjacent neighborhood, but their request was denied on the day of the hearing.

The reading of the EIS and the introduction of the hearing panel (which included none of the 12 members of the Panel on Education Policy who will actually vote on the proposal) were followed by in-depth presentations by both General Enterprise Academy and Columbus HS, respectively, contesting the Department of Education’s findings.

Making Their Case

Supporters of the Global Enterprise Academy pointed to improved standardized test scores and an improved score on the DOE’s own progress report.

Supporters of Columbus pointed to its ability to thrive in the face of adversity. The school has the second most challenging student body of 372 high schools evaluated by the city. About five percent of incoming Columbus freshmen and sophomores enter the school performing at grade level while 25 percent are special needs students. Despite this, Columbus’s 2007-2008 graduation rate rose above 40 percent and its weighted graduation rate of 68.8 percent exceeds that of the city’s overall high school graduation rate. The school’s seven-year graduation rate of 81.5 percent is also higher than the citywide average of 72.2 percent.

Of the five high schools in the building, only Columbus HS and Global Enterprise have open admissions and will accept new students throughout the school year, including troubled students, students with special needs, and students in the process of learning English. The gradual elimination of large high schools like Columbus across the city leaves these students with dwindling options.

The Department of Education’s findings relied heavily on interviews with “internal stakeholders.” Throughout the three-and-a-half hour hearing, the identities of these stakeholders was consistently brought into question. The principals of Columbus and Global Enterprise said they had not been a part of the interview process.

One speaker stated that he had done a survey throughout the schools’ community and had not found a single person who was contacted by the DOE. Another alumni speaker referred to them as “phantom stakeholders.”

‘Where Was the Department of Education?’

Several local elected officials or their representatives turned up for the evening, the highlight of which was local City Councilmember Jimmy Vacca who spoke fondly of his own time as a student at Christopher Columbus High School, back when the school was considered by many residents second only to the Bronx High School of Science (CK). He spoke passionately to the panel exclaiming, “Where has the Department of Education been all this time?… I remember a time when things were broken and they were fixed!” Noting that the transformation of Columbus High School was no sudden event, he asked, “Where was the Department of Education when the school began to degrade?”

Speakers also touched on larger political themes of the proposed school closing, pointing to Mayor Bloomberg’s well-known leanings toward charter schools and the 2004 reorganization of the Columbus High building in which four schools, including Global Enterprise, moved into the building.

Students and alumni alike posed the question, “If Mr. Bloomberg can get a third chance to be mayor, why can’t we get another chance?”

The proposal to phase out Columbus and Global Enterprise will be voted on at Brooklyn Tech High School on January 26 at 6:00 p.m.

John Tarleton contributed to this report.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Origins and Purpose of "No Child Left Behind"

Kathy Emery was a participant - along with Bill Cala and Susan Ohanian and 20 others- at the meeting John Lawhead and I attended in Birmingham Al (thanks John for getting me to go) in March 2003 that helped open up my eyes to the "agenda." Boy I wish people had listened to what they had to say then.

Susan Crawford sent this to the nyceducation news listserve:

In looking up the site reference for Kathy Emery's dissertation on the Business Roundtable's 1989 conference on education (which Isent to these lists last June, and for to there is link below), I came upon this speech which she gave a few years later, but which gives a short, concise version of the material she explored in her dissertation and subsequent book. In looking up the site reference for Kathy Emery's dissertation on the Business Roundtable's 1989 conference on education (which I

I suggest we each forward this to every member of the state legislature before they vote on the charter school cap on Tuesday ... or anything else they are contemplating related to how our children are being educated or miseducated.

It's all here -- right down to the bifurcation-by-charter-school of the college-bound versus drop-out track, replacing the previous college versus vocational tracks. Closing this next batch of schools would seal the deal here in NYC. Anyone who wants to pursue a vocational track after that can go to a for-profit tech school and wrack up obscene student loans.

Re the testing mania cited, it would be interesting to see, if the PEP votes to close these schools, what would happen if HS students decided to sit out Regents week as a result. And the Acuity tests. And if lower grade students sat out the upcoming state tests. And Regents week in June. What exactly will it take to restore our educational system to the people who actually use it?

Susan Crawford

Origins and Purpose of "No Child Left Behind"

[This is modified from a speech I gave as part of a panel presentation at the San Francisco State University Faculty retreat at Asilomar, CA, on January 26, 2005. It is based on the research I did for my dissertation.]

When Ted Kennedy and George Bush agree on something, one needs to worry about who the man behind the curtain is. After doing research for my dissertation (which is now a book) it became clear to me that the men behind the curtain are the members of the Business Roundtable.

No Child Left Behind represents only the latest manifestation of a bipartisan bandwagon of standards based advocates – a bandwagon built in the summer of 1989 by the top 300 CEOs in our country. At this meeting, the Business Roundtable CEOs agreed that each state legislature needed to adopt legislation that would impose “outcome-based education,” “high expectations for all children,” “rewards and penalties for individual schools,” “greater school-based decision making” and align staff development with these action items. By 1995, the Business Roundtable had refined their agenda to “nine essential components,” the first four being state standards, state tests, sanctions and the transformation of teacher education programs. By 2000, our leading CEOs had managed to create an interlocking network of business associations, corporate foundations, governor’s associations, non-profits and educational institutions that had successfully persuaded 16 state legislatures to adopt the first three components of their high stakes testing agenda. This network includes the Education Trust, Annenberg Center, Harvard Graduate School, Public Agenda, Achieve, Inc., Education Commission of the States, the Broad Foundation, Institute for Educational Leadership, federally funded regionally laboratories and most newspaper editorial boards.
By 2000, many states legislatures, however, were balking at the sheer size and scope of what corporate America was demanding. The Business Roundtable took note of this resistance when publishing, in the spring of 2001, a booklet entitled Assessing and Addressing the “Testing Backlash”: Practical Advice and Current Public Opinion Research for Business Coalitions and Standards Advocates. My guess is that the timing of this renewed effort to “turn up the heat” involved getting federal government into the act by aligning the federal educational policy with the Business Roundtable’s state-by-state strategy. Gene Hickock, the US Under secretary of education specifically charged with implementing NCLB, said as much to a gathering of CEOs in the spring of 2003 at the Milken Institute’s annual Global Conference. As you read the following quotation you might want to count how many times Hickock uses the word “leverage.” He said:
One of our hopes for NCLB . . . is that 30 years from now, we will look back on this era as having been one in which a reformation in American education took place. One of the virtues of NCLB is leverage, leverage at the state. . . [and] at the local level . . . We don’t’ mind being the bad guys, in terms of the ones pushing it, but I think our concern is that we are short sighted in how much leverage we could use. I think it’s leverage that could create a revolution in American education . . . we have been talking about these issues forever . . . it’s time to make sure we move from discussion to action. I am very concerned that we will . . . underestimate the potential that we have to redefine everything. (see Milken Conference 2003 website for complete transcript)
It’s all about “leverage” in order to “redefine everything” –NCLB is to provide that extra pressure on recalcitrant states to get with the BRT program. And if you look closely, NCLB is merely a more draconian version of California’s 1999 Public School Accountability Act. So, corporate business leaders in states who are already “with the program” can play good cop to Hickock’s bad cop, while those states still balking are now under tremendous pressure to come up with state legislation that conforms the Business Roundtable’s educational agenda.

But, why “redefine everything”, as Hickock so eloquently puts it? One way to answer this question is to look at the historic relationship between American business and educational reform. When you do, you can see that we are currently in the midst of the second major transformation of the US public school system. When Horace Mann convinced the Massachusetts state legislature in 1837 to establish the very first state board of education, the US was still primarily an agricultural economy, but one undergoing the first pangs of an industrial revolution. By 1890, America was an urban industrial economy. The working class (most of them foreign born) were in control of city governments. This was not acceptable to the new corporate business class who proceeded to systematically eliminate working class representation from city government, including school boards. The newly formed, business-dominated school boards proceeded to create the modern comprehensive schools, an important part of which was the introduction of standardized, norm-reference tests.

Since the 1890s, these tests, along with the factory like conditions of public high schools, have been central to fulfilling one of the major purposes of our public schools. In an industrial economy, working class students need to be tracked into vocational education and middle class students into college prep courses. This is one reason why we find standardized tests to be more strongly correlated to socio-economic status than to any other variable.

Many of you might have noticed that in the last 20 years we have been living through the transition from a manufacturing economy (of the last 100 years) to a service economy. Along with this transformation of the economy has come the transformation of the public school system from one that had tracked students into vocational ed and college prep to one that now is tracking students into college prep and dropouts. I am not sure that this was entirely foreseen by the Business Roundtable CEOs in 1989, but I am sure they are satisfied with the current results.

I suspect that the threat from Japanese car manufacturers in the 1980s prompted our CEOs to circle the wagons around a specific educational agenda. Their rhetoric has always been about getting everyone to college to meet the growing demand for knowledge workers. But the facts have always been clear that the number of jobs requiring a college degree have not increased nor are thy projected to do so. So, I suspect that business, experiencing a crisis of profits in the eighties, wanted to increase the number of college educated engineers and computer programmers, not because they expected to see more Americans earn higher salaries but, instead, they wished to increase the supply of college educated workers well beyond the need for them, thereby paying them less. As it turned out, the CEOs couldn’t wait for high stakes testing reforms to achieve this end. So, the CEO’s persuaded congress to dramatically expand the H1-B visa program in the nineties. This allowed CEOs to import high tech workers from other countries paying them half of what their newly unemployed American counterparts had been paid. Today we are just outsourcing the work.

Fifteen years after high stakes testing was first conceived, the Business Roundtable CEO’s have vowed to stay the course in spite of the modifications in the original rational for this “revolution in American Education” as Hickock expects it to be. I believe they are doing this, in part, because they are stubborn and out of touch with reality (or they are mistaking the statistics regarding thefastest growing occupations with the largest growing occupations), but they find the effects of the policy very convenient. Originally concerned about the historically high dropout rate undermining the myth of education as the key to social mobility, the CEOs now seem conveniently locked into their own high stakes testing propaganda: If a student drops out, it is clearly the fault of his or her teacher (and the dramatic decline in education funding has nothing to do with increasing dropouts). That students continue to dropout and get pushed out in higher and higher numbers is really not a bad result giving the reality of the job structure of the new economy. In 2003, 2 million people worked at or below the federal minimum wage of $5.15 per hour. Eight percent of those had college degrees. Only 30 percent did not have a high school diploma. BRT allies such as Education Trust insist that "there is increasing consensus among economists (and among families) that virtually all young people need the knowledge and skills necessary to benefit from postsecondary education" (EdTrust Mission Statement on website, viewed December 31, 2004). Standards advocates, however, are ignoring the lack of cachet that a college degree is supposed to bring to the job search and the unprecendented polarization that has accompanied the transition to the new "knowledge economy."
Among the 10 major occupational groups, employment in the 2 largest in 2004—professional and related occupations and service occupations—is projected to increase the fastest and add the most jobs from 2004 to 2014. These major groups, which are on opposite ends of the educational attainment and earnings spectrum, are expected to provide about 60 percent of the total job growth from 2004 to 2014 (Monthly Labor Review, November 2005, p. 71). [my emphasis]
Forty-two percent of workers in the largest 30 occupations are in the bottom quartile of annual median incomes ($20K and below). Only 20 percent of the workers in the largest 30 occupations work at jobs requiring a college degree or above (table 3, Ibid., p. 77). (also see Greenhouse)
In the 90's only the people at the very top and very bottom made any real improvement. Wages for full-time male workers, for example, have grown only 1.3 percent since 1989. The richest 10 percent of American households, economists point out, have 34.5 percent more financial wealth than the average family. These changes have persisted through Democratic and Republican administrations and began at the same time in Britain, even before Margaret Thatcher's market-oriented policies, Mr. Wolff said, indicating that they are not simply the product of economic policy but reflect deep structural changes in the economy. The leading hypotheses are technological advances, increases in trade and imports, growing immigration and declining union membership (Alexander Stille , Grounded by an Income Gap, December 15, 2001 ).
The introduction of test prep curriculum for so-called "low performing schools" neither prepares the students in these schools for college nor succeeds in teaching many of them to read, write and do arithmetic. But this is perfectly fine since those who drop out or are pushed out end up in jail, at Walmart or McDonalds, where check-out clerks don’t need to read or do math since scanners automatically record and tally the price and the cash registers tell cashiers how much change to give back.

Not only do working class and poor students, especially those of color, not learn to read and write, they don’t learn the kinds of skills that would allow them to challenge the direction the Business Roundtable CEO’s are taking this country. Throughout American educational history, there have been educators and activists who have argued against education as merely legitimizing the sorting of students into job categories. Some have created schools based on the joy of learning, or the need for students to be life-long learners. Others have created schools that taught students how to be active agents of social change, or to be skilled citizens in a democratic society. One effect of high stakes testing, one that I am sure the CEO’s are pleased with, is that the historic public debate over what the goals of education should be, a debate going back 2500 years, has been eliminated. Instead, raising tests scores has become an end in itself, one that I hope we can begin to question today, with questions that might lead to some action not only against the destructive effects of NCLB but also against those of California’s Public School Accountability Act and high school exit exam.

by Kathy Emery