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Friday, June 15, 2012

Class size limits and Cuomo finally picks a parent for his Commission, but very carefully...


Southern Regional Education Board just came out with their recommendations on class size reduction:
Maintain rigorous and enforceable classsize policies in the early grades: Policymakers and education leaders should resist the urge to relax small-class policies for early grades students, even when budgets are tight.
Too bad NYC DOE is now mandating that early grade classes in 1st through 3rd grade be packed with students with IEPs, up to the contractual maximum of 32 per class.
Meanwhile, Gov. Cuomo responded to criticisms that his commission lacked any parents by choosing Carrie Remis, a pro-charter parent who now lives in the Rochester suburbs but claims to represent inner-city parents. Rochester parents, please feel free to comment below.
He also added two more business executives to ensure that his pro-corporate reform position will be represented even more strongly: Stanley Druckenmiller, a hedge fund billionaire and backer of the Harlem Children’s Zone, and Sandy Weill, former Citigroup chairman. 
The dates of the “meetings” start in NYC on June 26; other dates are here.
It's not clear whether they will be hearing from any parents other than Ms. Remis.  Ms. Remis and her chic shoes are featured here and below.  
Happy Father's Day and successful shoes shopping to all. 



 

27 comments:

Howard said...

Ms. Haimson,

Thank you for the information.

Indeed Carrie Remis moved out of Rochester. Thus, her daughter no longer attends school in the Rochester City School District. She moved to Irondequoit, NY, which I assume is where her daughter now attends a public (if not a private or parochial) school.

Additionally, the so-called Parent Power Project is (for the most part) a ghost organization. That is to say, none of us associated with the Community Education Task Force have ever seen or heard of any Rochester parent-member of Ms. Remis' organization. Such parent-members may exist --- though it's doubtful --- to say the least. However, if they do exist --- they clearly are not visibly, actively involved with education issues locally.

As it relates to the clear subterfuge relative to so-called "representation" from the parent-community of Rochester --- the Community Education Task Force is not positioned to impact the Governor's decision. However, in our view, Rochester Board of Education Commissioners are positioned to do so. Thus, it is our hope that Board Commissioners will "react," especially Commissioner Mary Adams --- as she has had open conflict and disagreement with Ms. Remis in the past.

Sincerely,
Howard J. Eagle
Rochester City School District Parent and member of the Community Education Task Force
http://communityeducationtaskforce.rocus.org/

Carrie Remis said...

Thanks for the compliment, Leonie. It's not everyday that someone from NYC calls an upstater "chic."

I wanted to clarify about our program: the Parent Power Project is not a parent organization, like you and Mr. Eagle have characterized it, and we actually serve parents in Rochester as well as three suburban districts. In fact, we are service provider that supports both individual parents/guardians and independent parent organizations. Only those whose students are enrolled in Persistently Lowest Achieving Schools or who receive free- and reduced-lunch are eligible for our free services. Although Mr. Eagle has never asked for our services, I suspect that as a retired teacher, he would not meet our income criteria. Likewise, as his group, the Community Task Force, is predominantly comprised of teachers, it would not meet the "independent parent" criteria we have set for our partnerships.

Our work at the Parent Power Project is the heavy-lifting of the reform movement: helping families living in poverty understand report cards, prepare for teacher conferences, make sense of state tests and plan for college. We are not pro-charter as you've asserted, we are pro-parent and believe that a parent, not a zip code, should decide a child's eduction. In an ideal world, our work wouldn't be controversial, but sadly it is.

Carrie Remis
Executive Director
Parent Power Project
www.parentpowerproject.org
carrie.remis@parentpowerproject.org

Santosha Kuykendall said...

Carrie,

I think the problem that some parents (including myself) have with the governor's choice of you as the sole representative of parent-advocacy groups stems from the fact that your organization, Parent Power Project, is not just a service provider. It is also an organization that aggressively promotes very specific reforms.

The advocacy work you are talking about -- helping parents understand report cards and helping parents prepare for conferences -- is certainly very important, but you (sometimes in the name of Parent Power Project) do not merely advocate on behalf of individual parents; you also advocate for very specific systemic changes and have recently published several guest essays about this in the local paper.

For instance, this April, you wrote that that many parents see the superintendent's "interim record as evidence that he is beholden to special interests and lacks the political will to fight for reform in the way that former superintendent Jean Claude Brizard did." There may be parents who miss Brizard, but there are certainly also many parents who are glad to be done with his insults and with the boiling feuds that accompanied his aggressive reforms. (Remember when he referred to parents who disagreed with him as "the masses" and "cavepeople"?)

In February, you co-authored a guest essay for the newspaper in which it was argued that, "The proposed evaluation [plan for Rochester teachers] waters down the objective student growth component....[W]e support Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s push for a new law that would ensure a fair, rigorous and uniform statewide evaluation system."

This too is a policy recommendation rather than a matter of individual advocacy -- and it is not a policy recommendation that all local parents or even all low-income local parents support.

I certainly believe that your advocacy work on behalf of individual parents has provided you with some very specific information that will be valuable as the commission does its work. It would have been better, however, if the governor had perhaps appointed more than one parent advocate and thus had opened up the commission to multiple parental perspectives on the possible solutions.

Howard said...

I have absolutely no knowledge regarding Ms. Remis' claim that her organization "serves parents in Rochester." I'm not sure if anyone on the Community Education Task Force's extensive mailing list, which includes hundreds of Rochester City School District parents, relatives, grassroots community activists and others, have any such knowledge, but if so, I assume they will inform us (as I am copying this to many). One thing is for certain --- so-called "service" does not automatically or necessarily translates into "parent-power."

It is not factual that "the Community Task Force, is predominantly comprised of teachers." Yet, even if this was true --- of course one's profession (in this case teaching) does not preclude people from being "independent parents." Prior to, during and since retiring (after 23 years as a Rochester City School District teacher) --- I have always been (first and foremost) a parent --- a Rochester City School District parent at that.

While the type of services that Ms. Remis claims to provide, i.e., "helping families living in poverty understand report cards, prepare for teacher conferences, make sense of state tests and plan for college" are important --- they can hardly be accurately described as representing "the heavy-lifting of the reform movement." Provision of such "services" in uncritical manners --- has very little to do with much-needed education reform. In fact, a credible argument can easily be made that, when it's all said and done, especially since often, way more is said than actually done --- such efforts really serve to uphold and reinforce the entrenched educational status-quo.

I am absolutely certain that the "services" provided by Ms. Remis' organization really aren't fundamentally different than those provided by scores of poverty-pimping organizations in Rochester (at the tune of $25 million for tutoring alone since the 2004-05 school year) --- as a result of the Bush/Obama --- NCLB/RTTT windfall. As part of this grossly ineffective, shamefully wicked and wasteful fiasco --- surely funding has been allocated for "services" other than tutoring --- not to mention huge amounts of privateer-infused blood-money (aimed at wrecking havoc within the public education system in order to guarantee profit on top of profit). For additional information regarding the big, socioeconomic and political con game referenced above --- see the information at the following links:

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20120520/NEWS01/305200028/rescuing-rochesters-children-tutors

http://therochesterian.com/2012/06/14/3-out-of-100/

Howard said...

Cont'd

Abstract, hyper-rhetoric about being "pro-parent and believing that a parent, not a zip code, should decide a child's education" sounds good --- to those who don't know any better, but those of us who have been in the education-reform-trenches for decades, quickly recognize abstract, hyper-rhetoric for what it is --- abstract, hyper-rhetoric. Indeed the zip code in which Ms. Remis' child is being educated is very different than the ones of those whom her organization is providing "services" to, and indeed the difference regarding quality of education is literally the same as night is to day, which has absolutely nothing to do with an "ideal world," but instead represents hard, cold reality.

The bottom line is that until and unless parents, guardians, students, educators (yes Ms. Remis educators, including teachers), activists, superintendents, board of education members and other politicians, and even righteous business people, as well as any one else who is serious about effectively addressing the very old, historic, urban education crisis (stop shucking and jiving, posturing and money-grubbing), and get real about working cooperatively and collaboratively to build a deadly serious MOVEMENT for widespread, fundamental change and improvement --- the race and class based, urban education crisis, and very real, school-to-prison-pipeline will continue to deepen --- period. All of the hyper rhetoric in the world --- "ideal" or otherwise --- will not, cannot (in and of it self) produce change.

With regard to the prospect of producing widespread, fundamental, sustainable change and improvement --- history is clear. We need a MOVEMENT. That is, constant, coordinated, united activities that center around concrete, achievable, agreed-upon goals, strategies and tactics. All else is rhetoric and noise.

Howard J. Eagle

Rochester City School District Parent

Adjunct Lecturer, State University of New York At Brockport

Community Education Task Force (Leadership Team member)

Retired High School Social Studies Teacher (Rochester City School District)

MarkFriedman said...

It's important to deal in clarity when confronted with politically dubious decisions such as this decision from Gov Cuomo.

I find it curious that, looking back at past emails and online interactions with Ms Remis, this "Parent Power Project" seems to have either shifted definitions or evolved fluently in and out of several categories. I've seen it described as a "program that aims to empower low-income parents in Rochester", an "organization serving parents and advocating around educational issues", and now a "service provider". All those descriptions and definitions do blend and intersect. It's interesting that Ms. Remis kept referring to "the first parent graduates" of the program over a year ago, none of which anyone we know have met. We in the Rochester community are eagerly awaiting Rochester parents who have interacted and built relationships with this "service provider".

Ms Remis: As far as the swipe at Mr. Eagle's income criteria as a retired teacher and the erroneous allegations about the nature of the Community Education Task Force membership please stop with the off-base assumptions. While we're on that topic, I am a unionized teacher (Rochester Teachers Association/NYSUT/AFT) and community organizer who works closely with grassroots parents in the City of Rochester. I mention this because at every occasion in which I've attempted to bring up salient political points about education in online forums, Ms Remis has responded by pointing to the fact that I'm a RTA/NYSUT member and gone on to imply that I'm controlled by their agenda and lack a legitimate voice in these matters. For the politically conscious as well as reasonable folks reading this, please pay this no attention if this does predictably happen. Let's do the best we can to stick to the issues.

Bottom line, Ms. Remis has been selected by Gov Cuomo because she supports his corporate, privatization-driven policy direction in education using the buzz terms, "school choice, accountability measures,and assessments (read high-stakes standardized testing)".

This action is fairly expected coming from Cuomo. However, none of us should accept it as any kind of legitimate representation of the diverse views and perspectives of the many parents throughout NY State or even Rochester for that matter.

Diane Ravagshed said...

Leonie--Seems you're working with some of Rochester's most memorable, so-called activists now. Enjoy the daily email missives from Eagle and the barrage of comments. Howard can't resist commenting on his own comments.

Still, they are useful idiots for NYSUT.

Both EAgle and Friedman are teachers posing as social justice activists. They have a mailing list (without an "unsubscribe button") but no following. They often resort to bringing their students to protest on their behalf.

And they are bullies, as they've demonstrated here already. This might be a good fit for you, since you've shown yourself to be a bit of "mean girl" with this post. Seems petty, even for you.

pam :) said...

So, does the statement about zip codes mean that Ms. Remis will work to bring about a Monroe County metro school district?
Thank goodness! It's about time! Actually, it's long overdue!

Hasana Martin said...

Congratulations to Carrie! Her appointment to Gov. Cuomo's NYS Education Reform Commission will prove be another important step in bringing about positive change for Rochester and New York. I am a lifelong resident of Rochester and have witnessed and experienced many things in the Rochester City School District. Carrie is a breath of fresh air. She is as genuinely committed to the children of Rochester and their parents as anyone else. There is no boundary that exists that gives one person the cache to care about or advocate for education reform more than another. Carrie has had experience as a parent in the city and now she is getting experience as a parent in the suburbs. These experiences are complimentary to each other and Carrie is well suited and capable to share them. I wish her much success on the commission and with her endeavors as the executive director of the Parent Power Project. I look forward to being a lifelong partner, supporter, and friend. Hopefully we will be able to serve as an example of the power of the cooperative spirit which Rochester so desperately needs.

RochesterMom72 said...

I think Ms. Remis' appointment to the Commission is great news for Rochester parents and advocates of student and parent driven change. Locally, she works with a diverse coalition of parents, faith based and community leaders to advocate for change that puts students first. Ms. Haimson, have you ever visited Rochester Schools or worked with Ms. REmis? If not, perhaps you should keep your snarky comments about shoes to yourself, stop making broad and unfounded assumptions, and stick to covering NYC. Ms. Remis will do a fine job of representing the interests of Rochester parents, and promoting policies that work for parents and students.

Gerald Coles said...

With respect to Cuomo’s Education Commission:

The Commission not only is headed by a retired chairman of Citigroup,
Richard Parsons, Citigroup is further represented on the Commission by Sanford I. Weill, a former Citigroup CEO & chairman. Then there's Thomas Kane, a Harvard professor & charter school supporter. Add to the mix Sara Mead, a partner of Bellwether Education Partners, a private educational consultation program. A Bellwether partner writes pieces such as "5 Things Teachers Could Learn From the Marines" and "Can GE [General Electric Foundation] Help Bring Common Core Standards to Life?" (Answer: yes). Etc. Etc.

Carrie Remis will work well with this group.

While there are several fairly o.k. people on the Commission, the slant clearly is towards the corporate perspective, i.e., downsize the public schools, increase privatization and profits, expand testing, remove all teacher power, etc. There is, btw, not a single teacher on the Commission.

(pt 2 of 3)
-----------------------------------
Gerald Coles, Ph.D.,has written several books and many articles on education & is a member of the Coalition for Justice in Education in Rochester, NY.

Gerald Coles said...

Another new Commission member is Patricia Gallagher, a school board member of the Lake Placid Central School District. Gallagher, as the letter below indicates, is a Cuomo booster and a supporter of the avalanche of standardized testing that's filling the lives of students and teachers. For her, the increased testing is "a wonderful example of prioritzing children's education." Following the standardized testing agreement that Cuomo obtained fromthe teachers' union, Gallagher wrote this letter:
Good move by state on schools
March 5, 2012
Lake Placid News

To the editor:
An impressive model of collaboration and cooperation was displayed last week by the educational leaders of New York state. This is a wonderful example of prioritizing children's education over bureaucracy.

In 2010, our state was awarded a $700 million grant from the federal government that required teacher evaluations, but the state had failed to produce and implement a system that worked, Thus, putting the federal funding at risk. On Feb. 16, Governor Andrew Cuomo, state Education Commissioner John King and state United Teachers President Richard Iannuzzi announced a groundbreaking agreement on a new statewide teacher evaluation system.

I commend the governor's efforts and leadership as shown in his perseverance by bringing educational stakeholders to the table and putting students first. I was impressed to read that Iannuzzi, had said, "Teachers support high standards and accountability for our profession. We believe today's agreement is good for students and fair to teachers. It includes two principles we believe are essential. First, a child is more than a standardized test score. While there is a place for standardized testing in measuring teacher effectiveness, tests must be used appropriately. Secondly, the purpose of evaluations must be to help all teachers improve and to advance excellence in our profession. This agreement acknowledges those key principles. The settlement also reinforces how important it is for teachers to have a voice in establishing standards of professional effectiveness and in developing evaluations that meet the needs of local communities."

This can be seen as one step forward to ensure that every classroom is led by an effective teacher, every school is led by an effective administration.

As we move forward in our own district to work on this years budget and make decisions that will effect the direction of the Lake Placid school district I hope we can learn from the example set by Gov. Cuomo and provide collaboration and cooperation for the benefit of the students. If we can all (board of education, administration, teachers, parents and community members) make a commitment to improve our schools by working together to realign our spending for a common goal to improve student performance everyone will benefit.

Patti Gallagher
Wilmington
Member of Community Alliance for Responsible Excellence in Education (CAREE)
-----

These new choices for Cuomo’s Education Commission further reveal what’s ahead for public schools!
----
(pt 3 of 3)
Gerald Coles, Ph.D.,has written several books and many articles on education & is a member of the Coalition for Justice in Education in Rochester, NY.

Gerald Coles said...

The reason behind Governor Cuomo’s selection of Carrie Remis to the state’s heavily corporate Education Commission is very clear from her "Parent Power Project" (PPP) website: she is an advocate of "school choice," i.e., the use and expansion of charter and for-profit schools, of the “Parent Trigger” law, and of public funding of student enrollment in religious and private schools, all of which would combine to destroy public schools.

Her biographical sketch includes this: "As Director of Enrollment Management, she became convinced of the transformative power of school choice in the lives of students living in poverty. The Parent Power Project is in large part inspired by her work with Nazareth families seeking transfers from failing city schools."

Not mentioned in this sketch is her membership on the board of a corporate-funded state “Parent Trigger” organization, about which I’ll say more below.

One view into PPP’s politics and agenda can be found through its website’s links to right-wing organizations and individuals that, for decades, have relentlessly attacked and promoted policies to weaken and destroy public schools.

For example, there is a link to the "Education Next" website, which is funded by politically conservative organizations, such as the Hoover Institution and the Thomas Fordham Institute. These organizationS relentlessly advocate for various ways to destroy public education through vouchers, "school choice" and various privatization policies.

A representative educational "expert" is Eric Hanushek, who writes on school finance and has made a career arguing, under the guise of spending money wisely, that increasing funds for public education is largely beside the point and generally a waste of money. In one of Hanushek's edited books, he includes a chapter maintaining that the "Campaign for Fiscal Equity" lawsuit directed at distributing more funding in New York State to poor (mostly urban and rural) school districts was "a march of folly."

With respect to “Parent Trigger,” Carrie Remis is on the board of New York Campaign for Achievement Now (NYCAN), a corporate-funded organization pushing for the "parent trigger" law in New York State. Parent Trigger emerged from the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is funded by an array of corporations and foundations, such as Exxon Mobil and the billionaire Koch brothers.

Parent Trigger law would allow parents at a "low-performing school" to obtain enough signatures that, in turn, would trigger several options including firing staff and turning the school over to a private charter company. With potential corporate profits just a step after the “parent trigger” is pulled, it's not surprising that NYCAN has received $1.2 million in grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation," in addition to other corporate money.

Carrie Remis’s support of Parent Trigger explains why her PPP website has links to reports on parent trigger efforts.

Are these connections just ideological or are there money connections as well? Since Carrie Remis is on the board of NYCAN and now is on the state’s Education Commission, she should provide full disclosure of all of PPP’s sources of financial support.

Given Remis’ ideological and activist associations and goals, she is a good choice for Cuomo's (& Obama's) corporate agenda, which includes the destruction of the public sphere and expansion of public money going into private hands, all in the name of helping poor children.

(PT 1 OF 3)
Gerald Coles

MarkFriedman said...

There are a few points to address that are factually untrue as well as points that requiring responses:

"Diane Ravagshed" (who has not identified herself or himself here or elsewhere) referred to myself and Mr. Eagle as "...teachers posing as social justice activists". This begs the question for our statewide readers and communities, "If you are a teacher does that exclude you from authentic participation as a social justice activist/organizing?" Most reasonable folks will likely respond and say, "no!". Starting at that point, I would hope that critically thinking folks would recognize and question such an ad hominem attack given our history and record in grassroots community organizing in Rochester, NY.

"Bullying" is a fairly subjective, often loaded term to use. What others, including myself, would describe as "direct and forthright" others such as the pseudonym-using "Diane Ravagshed" would describe as "bullying", especially being that our viewpoints don't align with explicit advocacy for privatization and corporate-driven agendas in public education.

@Pam: This is just my educated prediction, but it would be surprising if Ms Remis advocated for metropolitan school districts. Such an effort would require a longer term confrontation with white supremacy in the suburbs. Not just Ms. Remis, but most folks are not willing to take on that struggle and, realistically, probably would not get incredibly far given how deep that challenge is under current conditions.

@Hasana Martin: I think it's necessary to challenge the statement that "There is no boundary that exists that gives one person the cache to care about or advocate for education reform more than another". What we're talking about is legitimacy and, frankly, some folks are more legitimate and authentic in their positioning to struggle for real educational reform than others. We can debate the merits and criteria for what determines that, but I think it's important to recognize that there is not automatically a level playing field in terms of everyone having the same standing in the broad field of education issues.

In my view, direct stakeholders' input is primary. These direct stakeholders include students, parents, families, other grassroots community members, and teachers. To be clear, this does not make everything such stakeholders say correct nor beyond criticism, it just respectfully sets some understanding ("boundaries") about guidelines for process.

Gerald Coles said...

The reason behind Governor Cuomo’s selection of Carrie Remis to the state’s heavily corporate Education Commission is very clear from her "Parent Power Project" (PPP) website: she is an advocate of "school choice," i.e., the use and expansion of charter and for-profit schools, of the “Parent Trigger” law, and of public funding of student enrollment in religious and private schools, all of which would combine to destroy public schools.

Her biographical sketch includes this: "As Director of Enrollment Management, she became convinced of the transformative power of school choice in the lives of students living in poverty. The Parent Power Project is in large part inspired by her work with Nazareth families seeking transfers from failing city schools."

Not mentioned in this sketch is her membership on the board of a corporate-funded state “Parent Trigger” organization, about which I’ll say more below.

One view into PPP’s politics and agenda can be found through its website’s links to right-wing organizations and individuals that, for decades, have relentlessly attacked and promoted policies to weaken and destroy public schools.

For example, there is a link to the "Education Next" website, which is funded by politically conservative organizations, such as the Hoover Institution and the Thomas Fordham Institute. These organizationS relentlessly advocate for various ways to destroy public education through vouchers, "school choice" and various privatization policies.

A representative educational "expert" is Eric Hanushek, who writes on school finance and has made a career arguing, under the guise of spending money wisely, that increasing funds for public education is largely beside the point and generally a waste of money. In one of Hanushek's edited books, he includes a chapter maintaining that the "Campaign for Fiscal Equity" lawsuit directed at distributing more funding in New York State to poor (mostly urban and rural) school districts was "a march of folly."

With respect to “Parent Trigger,” Carrie Remis is on the board of New York Campaign for Achievement Now (NYCAN), a corporate-funded organization pushing for the "parent trigger" law in New York State. Parent Trigger emerged from the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is funded by an array of corporations and foundations, such as Exxon Mobil and the billionaire Koch brothers.

Parent Trigger law would allow parents at a "low-performing school" to obtain enough signatures that, in turn, would trigger several options including firing staff and turning the school over to a private charter company. With potential corporate profits just a step after the “parent trigger” is pulled, it's not surprising that NYCAN has received $1.2 million in grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation," in addition to other corporate money.

Carrie Remis’s support of Parent Trigger explains why her PPP website has links to reports on parent trigger efforts.

Are these connections just ideological or are there money connections as well? Since Carrie Remis is on the board of NYCAN and now is on the state’s Education Commission, she should provide full disclosure of all of PPP’s sources of financial support.

Given Remis’ ideological and activist associations and goals, she is a good choice for Cuomo's (& Obama's) corporate agenda, which includes the destruction of the public sphere and expansion of public money going into private hands, all in the name of helping poor children.
Gerald Coles (pt. 1of3)

Tim Adams said...

This is interesting. For some strange reason, nobody has listed a single thing Ms. Remis has DONE to deserve this position. Then when well-respected, well-researched, and well-written folks speak out against the assignment of Remis, they're attacked for being bullies? And their character and work in the community is suddenly at question? And the best Remis' defenders can come up with is essentially that she's nice (and other vague, obscure rhetoric)? This is such a silly argument! If she is a worthwhile appointee, then back up that claim with evidence! My opinion is that she is being used to give Cuomo's commission legitimacy where there is clearly none. She has never represented or advocated on behalf of any sizable number of RCSD parents; in fact, the only time you ever hear her name in this city is when she submits some absurd position paper or letter to the editor to the local D&C or City newspapers.

Also, was just reading a Facebook discussion around this issue, so thought I'd share some of RCSD Commissioner Mary Adams' posts:

"Corporate reformer Carrie Remis (director of "Parent Power Project" at Fight Village) has been appointed to represent parents on Cuomo's new education commission. This bugs me. Not trying to exclude suburban parents, but if ONLY ONE parent sits on that commission it should be a parent with current children in public schools in the 'Big 5' -- we have the most skin in the reform game and should be represented directly on the commission, rather than a paid anti-teacher-union operative."

One of my issues with Carrie Remis is that she will not debate the issues publicly parent to parent when challenged. Santosha, I think you may have been copied in on part of an attempt by me to debate her on the issues publicly a year and a half ago, under her terms. I was reacting to her having contacted Tiffany Lankes to assert an "opposing parent view" -- with no indication she was a suburban parent -- to parent/community no confidence resolutions regarding JC Brizard. We had a lengthy exchange and she ended up illogically demanding a debate with Adam Urbanski instead of me because my arguments were "high level policy" beyond the scope of parent dialogue (yes, I'm serious). She also said at the time that in a few months "her" parents would be ready to enter dialogue, but unsurprisingly that never emerged. Apparently instead of "her" parents being advocates who will engage in democratic dialogue she is now describing them more as recipients of services. I don't have any personal criticisms of Ms. Remis,in fact she is quite nice, but when you put yourself out there as an advocate/expert, you should have a little more respect for those who you claim to be "saving."

Chaplain Ayesha Kreuz said...

I like Carrie and think she and her organization are a good pick. You cannot please everyone. I only hope Ms. Remis is able to hold the line for the parents and not give in to the political power that may come but that can be said of any person or organization. I have had the pleasure to meet with and talk to Carrie about the Parent Power Project and hopefully it gains more strength from this appointment.

Chaplain Ayesha Kreutz
President, Frederick Douglass Foundation of NY

Anonymous said...

Who is Carrie??? Never heard of her and neither has my kids. Someone explain to me who she is???

Howard said...

----- Original Message -----
From: Josh Mack
To: Howard Eagle
Sent: Monday, June 18, 2012

Subject: Re: ----------New comment on Class size limits and Cuomo finally picks a parent....

Howard,

You are absolutely correct. There are some companies that do just that and it does not matter if their private or non-profit. In fact, I have been quite public about the fact that you really have to pay closer attention to the non-profit companies. Here is where the obvious opportunity for corruption truly exists. These books are not required to be scrutinized by the IRS; therefore almost anything can go in them!
For-profits are heavily scrutinized by the IRS and pay heavy tax burdens that benefit the economy. Non-profits pay NO taxes and greatly diminish the economy. Who pick up the tax burden? Tax payers, which include for-profit companies! So when you hear someone "politicking" in the name of "non-profits" realize that that is the "wolf in sheep’s clothing!" Let's not forget that this country was founded on the principals of Capitalism!

We all are aware that many of our students need extended, individualized assistance in order to shore-up their learning gaps! In a failing school system, the need becomes greatly multiplied. The question becomes what are these companies doing with the students when they are with them? And what true evidence of student success do they really garner? This is where the focus should be, in my opinion!

I am proud of the work my company does with working in the "educational recovery mode" for our children. My program is effective and track able. I will put our system up against any other company at any time.
Don't forget, people have a right to earn a living doing anything (legal) they want. Small businesses are just as entitled as big businesses to make profit delivering a quality service. If the service is not quality then the customer should not be forced to buy, which is what happens often within the tutoring fiasco!

Hasana Martin said...

@ Mark Friedman You find it necessary to challenge a lot things with a lot of words. You have been well trained. I have little respect for those who seek to prove how liberal they are by simple associating with anyone of color who makes a loud noise. It is my position that those who have the capacity to actually show genuine empathy for others are well suited to advocate for education reform. If I wanted to spend my time typing grandiose and verbose retorts as opposed to spending it with my grandchildren I would do so. Lastly, choice is a wonderful thing! Public education has been held hostage by teacher's unions for far too long. There is nothing wrong with making money. So what if a group of wealthy people want to help change urban education! At least they are putting their money where there interests truly reside. America wouldn't be the country it is without the innovation, tenacity, and drive of capatalists.So, now we are at a crisis and America isn't what it used to be. The point everyone should acknowledge is that future success or failure will be determined by how well we address our educational system's weaknesses. I would rather have a captain of industry and Carrie Remis on my board than an insulting, arrogant, rabble rousing blowhard any day.

MarkFriedman said...

@Hasana Martin

Indeed I do find it necessary to challenge "a lot of things" especially when I find those "things" to be off-base. I also challenge those political agendas and accompanying viewpoints with not just words but actions, often with direct action and organizing.

If history is any indicator, that's part of what is required in order to pressure and bring about authentic change. Rather than narrowly focusing on your unfounded personal insults, I'll focus on a few issues you raised and hopefully others can learn, as this is an excellent opportunity for political education. "Genuine empathy" is an interesting term, as few would disagree that empathy is a desirable quality when attempting to perform work that is certainly interpersonal and based in relationship-building. What you didn't directly respond to was my previous point that there is generally some authenticity to be checked in regards to who is a "direct stakeholder" and who isn't. Basically who is real and who isn't. Again, I'm not saying that the groups of direct stakeholders I listed above are unquestionable and consistently accurate. After all, I'm checking and challenging what I consider an off-base argument from you right now.

MarkFriedman said...

As far as your statement that "choice is a wonderful thing" I wonder if you and others who often repeat this mantra understand what you're saying. The word "choice" itself has a liberating ring of freedom to it rhetorically but is that really what's happening with many of the corporate-driven charter schools (and for that matter, the select examples of voucher programs) nationwide? Are parents and families always choosing who gets to go to such programs or often vice versa? I suggest you take the time to research a bit deeper before making such celebratory statements.

I certainly have a critique of teachers unions. In my view, collectively, teachers unions have been too narrowly focused on solely the bread-and-butter interests of their membership and have not gone far enough in building the type of action-based alliances with grassroots parents and community members. These type of reciprocal principled coalitions are urgently needed in order to more effectively struggle and fight in the right direction for racial justice and general progress in public education. This style of teacher unionism is often referred to as social justice/social movement unionism and can be more thoroughly explained here in an excellent piece by Lois Weiner: http://newpol.org/node/579

However, if the extent of your criticism of teachers unions is "We just need to get rid of them and then we can really proceed to improve public education", there really isn't any kind of historical argument to be made there.

Your statement that there is "...nothing wrong with making money" is also deeply interesting. When the desire for profit in an unrestrained capitalistic system unduly influences and even exploits a vital institution such as public education there's a deep problem to say the least. While this problem and condition is anything but new, public education should be rooted in achieving the common good through democratic, participatory means. When wealthy individuals can drive the policy direction of a institution as crucial as public education, you better hope those wealthy individuals are extremely unselfish, benign, progressive-thinking folks who really have the best interests of the masses in mind. Meanwhile, back on this planet, sizable portions of the ruling class and their wealthy foundations embraced political agendas long ago that don't truly involve the objective best interests of the masses, particularly black and brown masses.

For this reason, your statement "At least they are putting their money where their interests truly reside" speaks to a truth you didn't intend to express, being that you seem to lack a wider analysis and understanding of what's happening in the politics of education. For those interested in a deeper explanation of what is often referred to as "corporate education reform" see: http://dissentmagazine.org/article/?article=3781

MarkFriedman said...

So, again, this points to an intense divide in worldview. Your narrative congratulates and rejoices the private business and unfettered corporate forces of capitalism. I see those forces as all too often diametrically opposed to the type of struggles for improved conditions and real reforms that we need in public education.

Lastly, we can most certainly agree that "we are at a crisis" and that "...future success or failure will be determined by how well we address our educational system's weaknesses" we just won't likely agree on the details, approaches, and political ideologies that the process for real solutions will undoubtedly require raising.

As far as "...a captain of industry" (more like exploitative robber baron) and Carrie Remis go, I would prefer grassroots representative parents together with conscious educators. With Cuomo and likely into the foreseeable future, it will require intense struggle and political organizing in order to achieve democratic representation of this nature. Lastly, until you and others do the homework on your arguments and political perspectives, I would watch who you call an "insulting, arrogant, rabble rousing blowhard" (whoever it was you were referring to).

Hasana Martin said...

For those interested in the current state of affairs, no pun intended, in the teaching profession I provide these links. I will post the links that I find regarding substance abuse and those in the teaching profession at a later date. My fingers began to numb after posting these links.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/29/teacher-recorded-girls-undressing_n_1462457.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jun/11/student-teacher-sex-where-does-it-end/

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/sex_ed_school_chiefs_3qbrBZy0T7cwWg4qCv9rMJ?utm_source=SFnewyorkpost&utm_medium=SFnewyorkpost

http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-05-26/news/31854092_1_riordan-city-cop-social-studies-teacher

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/21/melissa-dalton-teacher_n_1533664.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/07/kacy-christine-wilson-former-teacher-pulls-student-sex-in-closet_n_1496839.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/bondage_for_hs_sex_teacher_UpbXsYGUdtluQf2p5MiyCK

http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/controversial-teacher-student-appear-court-together-180641415--abc-news-topstories.html

Ernest Flagler-Mitchell said...

Now I find It is very hard for me to believe that the commenters here attacking Remis and charter schools have children in failing schools. Well I am here to tell you I do have children in failing city schools and I have them in charter schools. I am not poor and my children has both parents in the home, and yet two of them still have problems learning in the city school district. The commenters we have here is Rochester teachers or school board members or parents who are part of the status quo. But Rochester Parents United represents the majority of parents—the unlucky ones whose kids aren’t in the handful of high-performing schools and who only have a 1 in 3 shot at graduating. We go door-to-door listening to their concerns and they want change and they want more choices. The kind of change that the Governor is talking about and that Remis’ organization fights for. NONE of the commenters here would dream of putting their own children in a failing school, but think nothing of telling us to sit tight while the school fixes itself.




Well, we’re tired of waiting and that’s why Rochester Parents United went to Assemblyman Gantt to sponsor the parent trigger bill and why we asked the Parent Power Project for help learning about school turnaround and training on the legislative process. I’m sick and tired of elites smearing anyone who doesn’t agree with them and weaving conspiracy theories about the corporate takeover of public education to keep poor kids trapped in dropout factories so that they can get the jobs and patronage. Enough!




Ernest Flagler-Mitchell

President, Rochester Parents United

Parent of 8 children

Howard said...

Dear Ernest,

I'm not sure if you consider my "comments" as being among those (as you put it) "attacking Remis and charter schools." It is not my goal or intent to "attack" anyone. However, if people interpret the raw, factual truth as representing "attacks." Then so be it.

I am one of the "commenter's here" who does in fact have a child, as well as other relatives "in failing [Rochester City School District] schools," and Remis does not. So obviously, writing about the wretched conditions that generally exist among RCSD students, and efforts to address those conditions --- does not hinge on a prerequisite of "having children in failing city schools."

Again, I am a "commenter here [in] Rochester, [and a] parent who [definitely is NOT] part of the status-quo." I don't make empty claims about who or what I am --- my decades-old RECORD speaks for itself.

With all due respect, I don't think (no --- I'm certain) that there is NO organization in Rochester that can legitimately make the claim that it "represents the majority of [RCSD] parents." — bar none.

The raw truth of the matter is that the vast majority of RCSD parents, i.e., the ones that you described as "the unlucky ones whose kids aren’t in the handful of high-performing schools and who only have a 1 in 3 shot at graduating" are not well-informed, well-organized and/or consistently involved, and are not "represented" (at least not with permission and agreement) by anyone, including the people who some of them voted for, and helped elect. This is precisely why RCSD officials, politicians, and a wide array and assortment of various types of poverty-pimps have been able to get away with continuing to exploit them and their children (for many, many decades). Also, the vast majority of them are NOT familiar with "the kind of change that the Governor is talking about and that Remis’ organization fights for." As a matter of fact, other than hyper-political-rhetoric about some sort of abstract, unenforceable "new accountability" system, exclusively for teachers, but NOT for building-level and Central Office-level administrators, including superintendents; support staff; Board members and others --- even those of us who are most informed and involved --- are not NOT familiar with "the kind of change that the Governor is talking about and that Remis’ organization fights for." So, please --- enlighten us --- tell us more.

(CONTINUED)

Howard said...

"Telling [parents] to sit tight while the school fixes itself" is a totally ludicrous idea --- certainly one that has never been advocated by anyone associated with the Community Education Task Force

(http://communityeducationtaskforce.rocus.org/).

On the contrary, we have always taken the position that unless and until substantial numbers of parents, grandparents, guardians, students, progressive educators, politicians, including, and especially Board members, and even progressive business people, as well as anyone else who is serious about widespread, fundamental change and improvement within urban education --- work cooperatively and collaboratively to build a deadly serious MOVEMENT, i.e., constant, ongoing, activities that center around clearly-defined, agreed upon, concrete, realistic, achievable goals, strategies and tactics --- there will be no change. Our unequivocal position is NOT based on abstract, hyper-political-rhetoric, but instead is informed by clear, historical patterns and reality.

We (members of the Community Education task Force) have explained to you in the past why we DO NOT support so-called "parent trigger" laws. All I can tell you at this point is if I was in your position, I would (in the words of one of Frankie Beverly and Maze's famous Ballard's: "Look At California," or look at Florida.

If Andrew Cuomo (on the State level) and Carrie Remis (on the local level) do not represent the epitome regarding examples of "elites" who are working night and day to ensure maintenance of the status-quo --- by which they and their children and grandchildren receive grossly disproportionate amounts of the much-needed resources to help rescue urban students from "dropout factories" --- then I've never seen "elites" in my life.

You're right --- ENOUGH!!!

Howard J. Eagle

Community Activist (33 Years)


Parent of 2 Rochester City School District Students

Adjunct Lecturer, State University of New York At Brockport

Community Education Task Force (Leadership Team member)

Retired High School Social Studies Teacher (Rochester City School District, 23 Years)