Friday, January 14, 2011

Add Your School to the Jan. 21 Fight Back Friday List: Goal is 50 NYC Schools Taking Part

Hi all,

I am writing to let you know that on Friday, January 21st, GEM, in coalition with NYCORE, Coalition for Public Education, Teachers Unite and other groups is calling for a school based FIGHT BACK FRIDAY! (
Sam Coleman
If you've been following Ed Notes and other blogs, you are aware of the daily assault on public education, blaming teachers and their unions for all the problems that exist, closing schools, moving kids and teachers around like chess pieces, and so on. Just take this item I put up on the sidebar last night:

Bloomberg Takes Aim on Senior Teachers

"Amongst the reforms, Recommendation #20 may cause the most outcry, as it would authorize the Department of Education to retain the most effective teachers -- as opposed to just the most senior teachers -- during downsizing."

Bloomberg Set to Shake Up Union Hiring and Firing Practices:

I don't have to tell you that the UFT has been ineffective in fighting for the public schools - how many have been closed and are slated to close - a clear attack on and has even cooperated in areas like merit pay for performance, experimenting with the value-added measurements of teachers, supporting mayoral control, protecting teachers and public schools from charters (how can the UFT battle co-locations when they themselves have 2 charters co-locating?) and on and on.

Thus, the battle is in your hands. And I have been meeting a wonderful group of next gen activists - new leadership, along with some of the people I've met through blogging moving to the next step of activism. The Grassroots Education Movement is trying to fill the gap and has been joining in coalition with other groups around the city to begin to forge a fight back. A year ago we organized the rally at Bloomberg's home and it drew 400 people. A drop in the bucket you might say, but the bucket is filling, slowly, but filling.

An ad hoc committee to fight closing schools has been formed (meetings are open - next one this Tuesday, Jan. 18, 5pm at CUNY, 34th and 5th Ave, rm 5414-bring ID) and is organizing so many activities I get tired just thinking about it. The key events are: Jan. 21 Fight Back Friday and Jan. 27 rally at Tweed. And attending all the PEP meetings coming up on school closings while also sending reps to as many school closing and charter co-location rallies, hearings, etc.

That is why your help is needed to bolster the forces of The Resistance. There is so much to do and so few people to do it. I can attest that recently adding a batch of people has made an enormous difference (setting up blogs, creating leaflets, etc. takes man and woman power).

Now, you may be saying to Sam, one of the dynamic next generation activists we have been working with, "Why should I get my colleagues to engage in this action? Hasn't the union done this in the past? What did it get us?"
I don't have easy answers. But this is something growing from the grassroots, building school by school. Last June 4 Fightback Friday we had 25 schools. Now we're aiming for 50. Or more. It is no longer a matter of saving one school. The idea is to create a mass movement of resistance that consistently battles the ed deformers on every front. Imagine if one day hundreds of schools start joining in. Or come out to a rally. Jan. 27 will not be the last one. We must continue to build pressure. Classic bullies like Bloomberg historically buckle when the heat is on. Putting thousands in the street one day who are not there because the UFT paid and organized them would scare the hell out of the ed deformers. The only way is to build one block of a movement at a time.

As Sam says in his email:
The protest can be big or it can be as small as a few teachers/students/parents outside fliering. The slogan is: Wear Black, Take our Schools Back! 
We need pictures, video, reports from your school. It would be great if you can send a school rep  to the press conference on the steps of Tweed at 4:30 on the 21st. And get people out for the Jan. 27 rally at Tweed. If you are doing a Fight Back Friday at your school email CAPE: and CC me:

I'll let Sam take over.
JAN 21st!

What's a Fight Back Friday?

Individual schools all over the city will have some sort of action to protest the attacks on pubic education.

NOTE: You can NOT be written up by your administration for any action you carry out off school property. Please email me if you are concerned about this (sam_p_coleman@yahoo).

The protest can be big or it can be as small as a few teachers/students/parents outside fliering.

The slogan is Wear Black, Take our Schools Back! 

So, naturally we are asking people to wear black.  I am attaching some stickers(eng/spa) that can be printed out and given out on the day of. You can get black ribbons or arm bands to give out with the stickers. You can use the sticker for ideas for signs.
I am also attaching five fliers written on 5 big issues in education. We are in the process of translating them into Spanish so look out for that or contact me if you need the translations. These can be modified to fit your needs, they are in word.
Please contact: to let us know your school will participate! 

The movement is growing! Get your school community involved and aware!

I am attaching a flier with more details but here is some of the pertinent info from it:

If you, your school, or your school community plan to participate in Fight Back Friday, let us know @ so that we can include you on our list of participants/endorsers and interactive map as well as provide you with a Fight Back Friday Toolkit!  The Toolkit will include literature and educational material, media information, and sample materials to assist in your school organizing efforts.
Visit our Blog @, visit and post to our Facebook page @ fightbackfridays, and post and send in your school’s perspectives, testimonials, videos and pictures of Fight Back Actions.  
****Fight Back Friday will culminate with a press conference on the steps of Tweed @ 4:30.  If your group or a member of your school community (especially if you are a school facing closing or co-location) would like to speak, contact us and we will do our best to accommodate you.  Let’s stand up for public education together, and make our voices heard!****

NOTE: The 5 leaflets Sam is talking about can be viewed and there are links for downloading at the GEM blog.

Fightback Friday Informational Fliers for January 21, 2011
Download at:

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