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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Warning to parents and CECs considering dezoning and video from D5 hearing in Harlem

UPDATED with video of  CEC5 President, Sonja Jones, Lisa Donlan of CEC 1, Hazel Dukes of the NAACP, Noah Gotbaum of CEC3, and CM Robert Jackson below.

At the end of the school year and towards the end of the Bloomberg reign,  DoE has been hurriedly
Hazel Dukes of the NAACP, who spoke up against dezoning District 5
proposing to dezone D
istricts 4, 5, 6 (twice), 7 (unzoned into two large preference zones this year), 12, 13, 14, 16, 17 and 23 (unzoned for MS this year).  In order to achieve this, the Community Education Councils in these districts have to approve. 
 
What does dezoning mean?  Eliminating the right of any child to attend a school near his home and implementing a system of “choice,” where parents would list preferences, and their child could be assigned by lottery to any school in the district.
Given parents’ understandable dissatisfaction with perpetual budget cuts, rising class sizes, the increased emphasis on test prep, the loss of art, music and after school programs, and deteriorating conditions at many neighborhood schools, such a system might seem at first glance appealing.  But dezoning will do nothing do improve the quality of education.  By forcing kids to attend schools far from home, in fact, dezoning would likely lessen parental involvement, dramatically diminish the ties between schools, local elected officials and the communities in which they sit, and certainly drive up busing costs, which are already one billion dollars a year citywide.
Dezoning would also eliminate the sole legal power of the CECs currently have – which is to approve changes in zoning lines – and allow DOE to close any neighborhood public school and put a charter school in its place; something Joel Klein tried to do as Chancellor in 2009,  until he was blocked by a lawsuit.  He refused to put his proposals before the CECs in District 3 and 23 , knowing they would turn him down.  Instead he sent a letter to all the parents in the schools he had wanted to close, recommending that they transfer their children to charter schools or other public schools nearby.  Two of these schools got “A”s on the DOE school progress reports shortly thereafter.
Here is a memo, adapted from one I wrote earlier in the year for CEC 6.  Please circulate it among interested parents and CEC members.   
Below is a video of the hearing last week May 30 at District 5 in Harlem, where principals and parents spoke out against the proposal to dezone their schools.  According to eyewitnesses, not a single person spoke in favor of the idea.  Here is an article from the Daily News about this District 5 meeting; and an article about differing views of dezoning in District 6 in Upper Manhattan.




Comments from District 5 teachers, parents, principals, and community residents.



Comments from Sonja Jones, president of Community Education Council in District 5.



Comments from Lisa Donlan of CEC1, Hazel Dukes of the NAACP, Noah Gotbaum of CEC3, and Robert Jackson, chair of the NYC Council Education Committee.

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