Friday, February 4, 2011


Well of course the Bloomberg PEPSQUEAKS came up small once again last night. I left with Lisa Donlan and Julie Cavanagh around 10-something and we hit a bar on Lafayette S.t where we ran into other PEP fugitives. But I'll have to delve into the PEP details later. These late nights and all this activism just isn't leaving me any time for thoughtful blogging. When I got home around 12 last night, I realized I had left my video power pack and battery plugged in by the stage and I couldn't download the video without it. Oy! A trip back to Tech? Was the meeting still on? A check at Gotham and sure enough, there was Anna Philips still going at it. A few text messages back and forth and she found it. So now I have to head into the city to pick it up. And maybe some lunch and a movie. Thanks to Anna for this big favor. I owe her a scoop. I might have a goodie for her reward.

Before I leave, let me say that not everyone was happy with the UFT-led walkout and I'm in the process of sorting all that out, even my own feelings. I'm listening to all sides. NYC Educator was in the house and walked out (The Party's Over). 

I was thinking that they might all come back in and totally disrupt the meeting to such an extend that business couldn't be conducted, sort of what a parent group did on August 16. See my reports and videos:
Parent activist Lisa Donlan got into Michael Mendel's face during the walkout telling him that the PEP and all the other mayoral control crap is their RoseMary's baby and how dare they claim their own creation is illegitimate and then walk out leaving the people from PS 9K battling the DFER-led charter robots alone? We stayed to try to support them and I trailed after the green-shirted paid DFER gang even as they tried to run away from me and refuse to answer questions - but I got video of them distributing food - hey Joe Williams, with all the billionaires supporting you can't you afford to get something better than sandwiches?

It's even more fun listening to Lisa (who along with GEM's Gloria Brandman did a redux of the puppet show and the song "Which Side Are You On" when they spoke after the walkout, which really could have had an impact if the people had stayed) after a drink.

Here is a comment she made this morning:
The momentum that has been building for a year, died when the UFT and their followers walked out, leaving the victims of the closings and co-locations alone with the PEP and the astroturfed ERN coached charter folks. What exactly was accomplished by that stunt?

Other than making it clear that some give marching orders and the rest mostly march when told?
After all, the groups that led the walk out are now declaring the governance structure broken beyond repair- which is ironic because they are the very same groups that asked for this tweaked version of Mayoral control.
 Now its not working?


What did last night do to advance any cause or strategy?
What are you proud of exactly?
See some of her other comments this morning below the fold.

Of course, this has been a tumultuous week. Monday's mostly student rally ending in a civil disobedience action opened things up with a bang (Video of CEJ Rally and Civil Disobedienc...)
followed by Tuesday's PEP meeting - Ed Notes links here
Gotham Schools blow-by-blow Feb 1 account with Anna Philips on the gun:

and of course last night's follow-up. Here are Gotham links - see especially Anna Philips' marathon effort: The Panel for Educational Policy voted to close 12 more schools. (GS, Times, DN, Post, NY1, WSJ). And make sure to read the comments.


9:59 p.m. A charter school parent at the microphone elicits some boo’s by saying, “I’m grateful the UFT is gone and the riff-raff is gone because now the real parents can speak.”

“Chancellor Black,” the parent continued, “I hope you’re listening to every parent here.”

Black, who has been remarkably motionless throughout the night, nodded.

9:08 p.m. With students at schools slated for phase-out gone, much of the speech-making tonight is being devoted to two relatively minor space-sharing issue.

Both are plans to put charter schools with the Uncommon Schools network in district buildings: Brooklyn East Collegiate is set to move into the P.S. 9 building, and Leadership Prep Ocean Hill is slated to move into the building where P.S. 332 now is.

P.S. 9 parents complain that a charter school would block plans to expand the school to middle school grades. A Department of Education spokesman said that the move would only take away one classroom from P.S. 9 next year and that the school would receive multiple rooms back next year.

(In between 8 and 9 pm i mostly anti district school and pro charter speakers take the mic)

7:55 p.m. Anna estimates that there are about 350 people at Brooklyn Tech. The walkout cleared many people away.
Dmytro Fedkowskyj, the Queens Borough President’s appointee to the panel, starts the question-and-answer period by calling attention to the many concerns he heard about class size, technology, resources, and other supports in schools that are facing closure.

“I have taken a tour of Jamaica High School and I saw how the new schools did seem to have newer technology while Jamaica didn’t have it,” he said. “And it concerned me.”

Paymon Rouhanifard, a top official in the DOE’s portfolio office, responds that the inequality is simply a function of the way the department organizes school budgets.

“What you see in Jamaica is the fact that Jamaica has been around for a long time, by virtue it has a more senior faculty that has a higher budget need to soak up the salaries of those teachers. Its principal has to work around those challenges,” Rouhanifard said. “The new [schools] may have younger teachers so their cost may not be as high.”

Let's not forget that the UFT /CEJ/AQE/Immigrant Coalition and others cut a deal with the DoE back in 2007 that included cancelling a May rally, at a time when when protests were building citywide against the DoE's move to stand-alone schools in virtual networks.

FSF not only makes each school accountable for the actual teacher salary, thus making experienced teachers a financial liability, it also has allowed DoE to transfer hidden administrative and support costs to individual school budgets.

Thus the short term opportunism of the union and its allies helped DoE take major steps to destroy our schools.

We need a labor force and grassroots groups that will fight back, not accommodate and self deal.

Lisa Donlan

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