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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

How one organization felt, after being asked to sign onto the letter of support

Below is an email from an intermediary organization that receives funding from DOE, sent to principals and teaching mentors, after being asked to sign onto the letter of support that Mayor Bloomberg released on Monday.

The letter was signed by 100 individuals, representing groups ranging from small afterschool programs to the Museum of Modern Art – most of which are financially dependent on the good graces of the city. The DOE email which follows calls the signers "the Department's partners and friends."

It is interesting that this particular organization, whose name is removed, asked for input from principals as to whether they believed that their schools and/or network might be punished if they did not sign on – and specifically requested feedback by phone or from a non-DOE email account, as though worried that Tweed might actually monitor their communications.

It would be interesting to know if officials at Tweed spy on people’s emails.

Take note that the actual pros and cons of the proposals were never mentioned – no less whether these changes might really be in the interests of “the people who matter most: Our children” as the DOE letter claims.

Here is more evidence of the way in which the bullying tactics of the administration are viewed by educators on the ground. So much for the supposedly independent groundswell of support.

Also, interestingly, a reference is made to the fact that an earlier version of this letter criticized the elected officials and the UFT who opposed these radical proposals – which was apparently removed after negative reaction.

Dear principals and mentors,

We received this letter on Tuesday asking for [our group] to sign on. So far, we were told by one intermediary (who is NOT signing) that there was an earlier version which explicitly criticized politicians and the teachers union and that after pushback, it was revised to this version.

We are asking for your input….(phone or non-doe email is best)…

What cost and/or benefit to your school (and our network of schools) do you foresee if we do or do NOT sign this letter?

We are also reaching out to other intermediaries to gauge their response.


[name removed]

From: Marcus Debbie []

Hi xxxxxx-

Below is a public letter than many of the Department's partners and friends are signing. We have a long list of signatories already. Would you consider signing on to this public letter of support on behalf of xxxxxx [your group]? It would be great to have you.


Debbie Marcus
Associate Director of External Relations
Office of New Schools
(212) 374-6929

Dear New Yorkers,

Until Mayor Bloomberg took charge of the city's schools, student performance had been all but stagnant for decades. Now, because of the first phase of the Children First school reforms the Mayor and the Chancellor have enacted, New York City's students are making real progress. Thousands more students are graduating and the New York City graduation rate is higher than it's been in more than 20 years.

Students' progress in reading and math is now outpacing gains in the rest of New York State.
But our schools are still not serving all New York City children as they must.

For the sake of our children, we need to act. And we need to act now. If we don't take the smart next steps the Bloomberg administration has outlined, we risk failing the children of New York City. That's a price that we are not willing to pay.

The reforms make sense. Schools need the authority and the resources to build the right educational program for every child, and to ensure that they're getting the job done, they must be held accountable for their students' academic success in all subject areas from math and reading to the arts and science. Schools also must be funded fairly.

Our students and their families, indeed all New Yorkers, deserve the kind of schools and the kind of school system that our Mayor and our Chancellor are creating. We can't put special interests ahead of the interests of children. This Mayor has it right-we need to put our students' interests first. We urge all New Yorkers to join together to support these reform efforts. These reforms have real promise and will make schools better for the people who matter most: Our children.



Daniel Millstone said...

Wow! You're very close to a smoking gun here! Wouldn't it be fun to know from which budget line the money for this project was stolen? call the IG!

Patrick Sullivan said...

This episode demonstrates how disconnected the Mayor and his staff are from reality of what is happening in the schools. Rather than engage the legitimate stakeholders -- parents, teachers and administrators -- he's attempted to manufacture this faux base of support to parade in front of the press. He's not fooling anyone. And all his whining about being beaten up by the teachers union is only making him look weak and not at all like the presidential candidate some say he is.

NYC Educator said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NYC Educator said...

I'd like to believe he's not fooling anyone, but he's fooled so many for so long...however he appeared arrogant and desperate in this particular episode. The Times coverage, much more thoughtful than usual, was really very good. Calling teachers "special interests" is absurd, but the New York Post, for example, reflexively supported the mayor.

Lots of people read their editorials uncritically, it seems, including the mayors of a few cities around the country.

I'm firmly convinced that the bottom line is breaking organized labor, and quality education is neither here nor there for these folks. The overcrowding at my school has gotten far, far worse under this mayor.

He doesn't care. He can push it to the breaking point, close it, and open 5 new schools in the building to take its place.