Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A personal note



I haven’t written much about myself or my family on this blog, however, I am doing so now because GothamSchools is intent on writing about me, my organization Class Size Matters, and about the fact that my son entered a private high school  this year.  I told their reporter Geoff Decker about this in the fall, in the midst of a longer, off the record conversation about many things, and ever since, whenever I have contacted him about possible stories, he has brought up this issue instead of more important ones.  I myself don’t think it is either particularly interesting or relevant, but since he is intent on writing about the situation, and said he intends to compare me to Michelle Rhee, who also sends one of her children to private school, I decided I should explain why I think our situations are quite different.
I had kids in NYC public schools for a total of 15 years; my daughter attended public schools from K-6th grade; my son K-8th grade.  My record of advocacy and my continued work in this area should prove my commitment to public school children.  The private schools they attended have the sort of small classes that I believe all children have the right to receive.  It is a parent’s responsibility to find a school that they believe best fits their children’s needs; and for that reason I have never criticized Bloomberg, Bill Gates,  Rhee or anyone for sending their own children to any school, whether private, charter or public. What I have criticized is when powerful and wealthy individuals send their children to schools that feature very small classes, lots of art, music, etc., and little or no standardized testing, but then advocate for an entirely different kind of education for other children.    
The evidence is crystal clear that all kids benefit from smaller classes, but especially poor and minority kids, and yet these children are LEAST likely to have access to them. The efforts of the corporate reformers mentioned above who have advocated for increasing class size, especially in large urban districts, while ensuring that their own children are provided with small classes is wrong.  I will continue my life’s work to try to improve the opportunity for all kids to be provided with small classes, as well as adequate and fair funding, an end to high stakes testing, and a voice for parents in decision-making, and to call out hypocrisy wherever I see it.

26 comments:

  1. Leonie, first of all, thank you for all of your hard work and dedication through the years. You have been a dedicated advocate for ALL of our children. Your decision to do what is best for your child has no bearing on the valid arguments you continue to put out there. Please continue to advocate on behalf of our children. You are needed.

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  2. Thank you for all your work in this area to reduce class sizes and thank you for taking it into your own hands and setting an example that you have choices for your children. NYC DOE just does not get that CLASS SIZE DOES MATTER!! Federal funds to reduce class sizes were directed elsewhere. Our kids are in classes of 30+ with no end in sight. This is a thankless job you have undertaken.

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  3. Leonie, I echo Laura's honor and respect for your amazing work. You act with integrity in everything you do. You are powerful and effective so, of course, you will be a target as the corporate reformers continue trying to distract the public from the truth about their failed strategies and mercenary motivation. Any public school parent today has to think long and hard about the current state of public education given the narrow focus on testing - I'm not sure what decisions I would have made if things had been like this when my sons went to school, and feel fortunate that they graduated just when most of the misuse and overuse of testing began. But the bottom line is that all of us have to continue the critical fight to protect and defend our public schools, just as we fight to protect and defend our own children. I'm grateful that you are one of the ones leading the charge.

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  4. As a mother of four public school children, I feel so very fortunate to have you as an advocate for the NY students. You are the tireless voice for the many public school students that do not have advocates. You represent my voice and all public school children, thus I join you in trying to bring fairness and transparency to the students of New York from the DOE.

    All children will be effected by the curriculum choice of common core which was implemented without any parental vote and Inbloom shocking data mining and tracking of students from prek to their career. The DOE refuses to inform parents of this invasion of privacy but yet is allowing our students private personal details to be bought and sold so corporations get rich. Please continue to help my children protect their privacy and reduce class sizes since are the largest in 14 years as a result of the Bloomberg administration. Without you, all students of NY would suffer!

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  5. Michael FiorilloApril 3, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    Leonie, for all of your tireless work and advocacy over the years, you don't have to justify yourself to anyone, least if all to the ed deform stenographers at Gotham Schools.

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  6. Thank you so much for your dedication and advocacy for all children.
    As a teacher, I have always been interested in educational strategies that are considered best practices. Class size really does matter!
    You have truly been a hero to me and I just wanted to express my appreciation for all that you do.

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  7. Leonie,

    The media cannot and should not compare you to Rhee. You have been a strong advocate for all the children in NYC school system. Any media that tries to lessen your dedication to the parents, children, and the teachers is a media not worth reading.

    There's no need to explain yourself because you have too many of us who believe in your hard work and support your selfless effort in fighting the deformers.

    I am genuinely grateful.

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  8. Thank you for all the work that you do. This is AGAIN another distraction instead of actually dicussing substantive matters in public education.

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  9. Leonie, as both a parent and a teacher I can not thank you enough for all you have done for my child and for every child in our battered, shattered school system. This shameless attack on your person and integrity removes all doubt as to the true purpose of Gotham Schools: an insidious mouth piece for the corporate predators. Hang in, brave and brilliant lady, you are respected and needed more than you know. There is no one in this city who has done and could do what you have done and are doing. Please continue.

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  10. As others have said, the article is a distraction. This and all public school parents owe you a debt of gratitude for your committed and skillful advocacy.

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  11. Leonie,

    You have my unflinching support, and thousands of us are behind you in this intensifying battle for public education.

    They attack you only when you become a threat to them, to the education privateers who are systematically deconstructing every semblance of public good in schools today. The mayor calls you out by name, accusing you of "trying to create jobs for teachers". The press looks to you as a voice of opposition to the unchallenged assumptions of the corporate reform movement.

    You are in the ring now. With boxing gloves tied on tightly.

    And this radical educator has your back.

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  12. What a hypocrite. But then you're a "progressive"....right.

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  13. You have the right to send your children to whatever school you feel can provide them with the best education. You have been a strong advocate for improving our public schools and unlike Ms. Rhee you have been a strong supporter of the public school teachers. It is very sad that under our present mayor and his cronies so many of our public schools have not gotten the support they deserve. It is very clear that our schools are really in no better shape than they were nine years ago!
    Please keep up the good work on behalf of the children, teachers, and parents of our city.

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  14. "Call out hypocrisy wherever I see it..."....obviously there isn't a mirror where you live.

    Typical disingenuous limousine liberal fascist. Do as I say not as I do.

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  15. Every parent should have the same opportunity that you do. Obviously you have the economic means to send your children to private schools. Why are vouchers a bad idea for poor families? how about charter schools? bottom line is that liberal progressives should realize that many parents want the same choices they have!

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  16. Hypocrite and liar.

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  17. Even when you've met the definition of hypocrisy, you still refuse to concede any ground? You still foment divisiveness, when a spirit of collaboration is sure to improve all public education in America (public and charter)?

    Here's one more: if a low-income single African American mother sends her children to low-performing public schools because she has no choice, but advocates in her limited capacity for better (i.e. more effective) schools, do you rail against her as well?

    We all want a better education for our children. Reformers are willing to give it to all children NOW.

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  18. The NY Post attack was unfair and misleading. The fact that she is sending her child to a private school does not make her any less sincere, passionate or hard-working an advocate for public schools. Her reason is clear and completely true to what she has said and done as the leader of an organization that fights to lower class size in the public schools. That reason is that class size is much lower in the private school, despite her battles to get the Department of Education to accept and act on the proof of research, experience and common sense that lower class size is advantageous to learning environments. Should she leave her own child in the dark because the DOE refuses to see the light? Haimson is no hypocrite. The Department of Education is hypocritical for pretending to champion the rights of kids while actually exploiting and betraying them.

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  19. The article stated the simple fact, in an appropriate context, that you made what you determined to be the best choice for your childrens' education. There is nothing to criticize in that decision. However, I hope you will see your own position more objectively going forward. For all of those families that do not have your financial means, they can not make that choice. While I do not doubt your intentions to improve the public schools for all children, your allegiance to the organizations that do their best to perpetuate the very unacceptable status quo for less fortunate families taints your position. Please use this experience as an opportunity to open your mind and, hopefully, realize that all parents should have the choice that you just exercised for your own children. You can become a great advocate going forward by championing all effective efforts to improve the education options for all children, not just those sanctioned by the entrenched public education interests.

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  20. Here is the comment I left on the disgusting DN piece:

    Smaller class sizes are a bogus cure all??? I suppose the days of giving individual attention to students are over because the Daily News doesn't think NYC public school parents and students deserve that. Let's look at the difference here....those who can afford to send their children to private school do so because they offer smaller class sizes, art, music and believe in the whole development of a child--not just a test score. However, while doing so, many are doing everything in their power to deny that choice to public school parents. Leonie on the other hand is truly trying to offer that "choice" to all public school parents.

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  21. To anon 3:35:
    "realize that all parents should have the choice that you just exercised for your own children."

    But you and your gang are NOT advocating all parents should have the choice Leonie exercised for her children. Instead you are offering some narrow view of competition that narrows the choice by undermining the public school. Look within yourself and join Leonie in advocating true options for parents to have the same choices Leonie has.

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