Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Overwhelming Opposition to DOE Agenda for PEP

This week's agenda has some highly controversial items. Emails sent to me ran overwhelmingly against the co-location of Success Academy in Cobble Hill. There were 540 opposed and 5 emails in favor. I wrote back to four of the supporters. Their primary issue was simply overcrowding and are looking for more good schools. There was no preference for a charter.

For a good preview of the meeting and deep dive into the issues at stake, be sure to check out Liza Featherstone's Brooklyn Rail column Here Comes Success. Here's an excerpt:
At Success Academies, by contrast, the 1% runs the schools for the 99%. But public schools are not supposed to be charities. In fact, in the 19th century, the move away from charity schools, toward a publicly funded, publicly controlled system, was a significant step toward a more democratic society. That’s progress we’re rushing to undo in our own century. A public school is not supposed to use the generously donated largesse of the rich to benefit a handful at the expense of the many; rather, the public school system is supposed to use our resources as a body politic to educate everyone.
Meanwhile in Manhattan, the DOE is committing an awful injustice by forcing an expanded Esperanza Prep Academy into the same building with the TAG Young Scholars. The building utilization will go to 111%, squeezing both schools. The TAG program is the only citywide gifted and talented program that has succeeded in attracting a large number of children of color. The DOE has a dismal record in extending gifted and talented programs to all races and income levels. While the NEST+M and Anderson programs have been sheltered from similar encroachments, DOE has refused to support this highly successful program.

Finally, in the interest of transparency, I'm sharing my note to PEP Chair Tino Hernandez regarding the rules of order for our meetings:

As we've discussed, you as the Chair are designated by the Panel for Educational Policy bylaws as person responsible for rules of order. Given that the latest news reports suggest there may be protest activity at upcoming meetings, I am writing to strongly suggest the PEP adhere to some basic guidelines in the conduct of our meeting:
  • The Open Meetings Law should be followed at all times.
  • The PEP Chair, or Vice Chair in your absence, and not the Chancellor should decide rules of order.
  • Press activity should not be restricted in any way.
  • The audience should be free to stand or sit as they see fit. I have received complaints from people who were ordered to remain seated.
  • The School Safety division of the NYPD should maintain jurisdiction over matters of law enforcement. Even at our most contentious meetings we've had very strong leadership from Chief Coogan and the men and women under his command. I would be concerned if jurisdiction were to be turned over to one of the special branch units of the NYPD responsible for heavy handed tactics with recent protests.
  • Further to this last point, for the safety of all, especially the children in attendance we should ask the minimum force be used in any required law enforcement actions. And certainly no mace or sound cannons should be fired in the auditorium.
I would appreciate if you could review these requests with the Chancellor and School Safety. It is important the the Board of Education set an example in conducting a public meeting and that we maintain a safe environment for all.


Gregory Chairs said...

I wrote back to four of the supporters. Their primary issue was simply overcrowding and are looking for more good schools. There was no preference for a charter.
Thanks for post.

Anonymous said...

I hope the opponents of the Cobble Hill charter make that point strongly tonight. There is absolutely zero desire for a charter school in the area and never was. There is a desire for ANOTHER public school like PS 29, PS 58, PS 261, etc. if those are unable to accept all students zoned for them. The answer is for the DOE to open another school if necessary, perhaps in the same location. But why would the DOE allow a private charter to profit from this? Instead of big salaries paid to the CEO and the expensive marketing and advertising campaign that's not convincing anyone, that money could be spent on EDUCATION. That's the travesty of this whole attempt to open a charter school in Cobble Hill.

Anonymous said...

Public education, public schools are the gateway to the American dream. As with the economy the 1% have set the agenda and are quite determined to maintain their power. The protestors are doing Gods work and the principles of democracy of which this nation was born will defeat this authoritarian reform effort to destroy public education.

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