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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Yelena Siwinski confronts Walcott on class size

Yelena Siwinski, teacher at PS 193 in Brooklyn showed up for a meeting in District 22.  Here is her account, which shows that still, even after being asked at two different consecutive City Council hearings what the class size limits are, Chancellor Walcott still has no idea.  

What a travesty!  I include the real caps below, contrasted with the CFE goals in the city's class size reduction plan.
I walked into a moderately attended CEC 22 meeting where Walcott spoke for a few minutes with the usual rhetoric which I couldn't even write down because it was so meaningless.  Then came time for questions and answers.  The first woman asked about charter schools and how could we give public schools equal money.  Walcott said that he was trying to calm down the divisiveness between charter schools and public schools and that he believed parents should have a choice and charter could be  more flexible since many of them weren't unionized, etc. etc.  He said that the UFT law suit just brought all that up again. 
Walcott talks bupkis
He also mentioned that charters shared the building equitably and that they used the BUP (Building Utilization Plan) to decide where the charters could go. There was another person before me and then it was my turn.  First I mentioned that I had been to the CDEC meeting last week and had shown a portion of the film "The Inconvenient..." and that I would be back in September to show the film in its entirety. 

I said that it was produced by the Grassroots Education Movement and that it would be good for the chancellor to view it because he wasn't telling all the facts such as the BUP doesn't take into account all the services the children are mandated and that kids were receiving them in hallways, closets, and stairwells.  Also equity might seem like 50-50 between the charter and the public school but there might be 300 kids in the charter and 600 kids in the public school.  I told the audience to find out the facts that went beyond the smooth rhetoric they were being told.
Then I mentioned that I had 2 college educated daughters and that the chancellor had mentioned that we need to get our kids "college ready".  I said that one of the main questions that are asked when looking at college was how big the class sizes were.  At a good college it is usually 1:16 or 1:18 but definitely less than 1:20.  By now I was really addressing the audience.  Then I stressed that this was for an 18, 19 20 year old and that we have 5 year olds with bigger class sizes!  Then I mentioned that Walcott was recently asked the class size limits and that he didn't know them.  I asked if he could tell them to us now.  He proceeded to harp on when he had been asked the question. I actually forgot but knew that I had read it recently and that the point was what was his answer today. He then struggled and said that the class size limit for kindergarten was 23.  I told him he was wrong and sat down.

6 comments:

NYC Educator said...

Yelena is the best! I say we clone her. Who's with me?

Leonie Haimson said...

She is great and beautiful besides. I can't believe she has two college-educated daughters!

Unitymustgo! said...

It's too bad Walcot subscribes to the I'm made out of rubber and your made out of glue ideology and therefore anything you say bounces off him and sticks to you, otherwise beautiful spoken.

Unitymustgo!

Gerald said...

Yelena,

You came across as the passionate advocate you are. Great job.

Jim Callaghan said...

Yelena should ask Mulgrew the same question -he hasnt a clue.
I remember Yelena well; Mulgrew ordered that a story I wrote about her taking her class to the Aviation Museum be held until after the election because he told me she "wasnt with Unity."
Mulgrew of course doesnt know its illegal to make such distinctions but he does so every day.
Deidre McFadyen, my tyrannical editor, held the story from FEb. to June 2010..
McFADyen told me she got in truble for assiging the story before checking to see if the member had proper UNITY credentials.
some shake down racket Mulgrew is running- pay up -to the Unity bank account- or we ignore you.

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