Thursday, August 18, 2011

Last night's PEP meeting on Verizon contract and its "Norma Rae" moment

Last night's meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy meeting was exhilarating, stirring, and depressing all at once.   Over a thousand parents, teachers, and striking Verizon workers showed up for the pre-meeting rally, and hundreds more filled the auditorium afterwards at Murry Bergtraum HS, chanting, booing Walcott and the DOE, and speaking up passionately for the need for more caring education priorities, and against the $120 million Verizon contract, which will steal even more resources from our children and the company's workers.

This contract had at least  five strikes against it, each of which would have convinced any individual with a conscience to oppose it, but was nevertheless rubber-stamped by the mayoral appointees (known collectively as the Panel of Eight Puppets, though the chair, Tino Hernandez, was absent), with  four borough reps all voting no.  

This, at a time when our school budgets are being slashed to the bone for the fifth year in a row, and while spending on testing, technology, consultants, bureaucrats, and private contracts like this one are ballooning into the billions.  The resulting cuts are forcing principals to raise class sizes to thirty (even in grades 2 & 3) teach classes themselves, and patrol the halls, as today's  Times article makes clear.

Here is some media coverage of the meeting from the Times, Daily News, Post, NY1.  None of it really captures the intensity of the evening, though the NY1 video comes closest.

Two unmentioned yet electric moments: Patrick Sullivan, Manhattan rep to the PEP and blogger here, revealing  that the Verizon contract actually releases the company from any legal obligation to fulfill their duties in case of a strike(!).  Also,  Dmytro Fedkowskyj, Queens rep, who, in response to DOE counsel Michael Best droning on how Verizon has agreed to pay back any profits they inappropriately received through the fraudulent scheme masterminded by Ross Lanham,  pointed out that the letter the company executives sent yesterday to the PEP contradicts this, as it claimed that they did nothing wrong.  Dmytro called this "insulting," and Walcott admitted that he did not "appreciate" the letter. (!!)

See below, for a "Norma Rae" moment, as Amy Muldoon, a passionate Verizon striker and mom, calls out the DOE for their contempt for workers, kids, and NYC taxpayers, while holding her baby in her arms.


ksprowal said...

Wow this is the best coverage I seen thus far.... Thank you Leonie!

Anonymous said...

Why is anyone surprised by the disregard for parents, children,teachers,or union workers by this administration?Why would anyone be surprised by the bias and inaccurate coverage by the Bloomberg supported press in our city?
The school system in NYC is a disaster since the mayor took over and has pressed for his testing and charter school agenda.