Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Support Rikers' Resolution at DA Tomorrow!

by Marjorie Stamberg
Last Spring, the DOE decided to restructure the schools and programs on Rikers Island using the corporate model: close it down, excess the teachers, re-open with a far-reduced staff, and forget about the impact on the kids.

District 79 authorized an outside report by the Comer group at Yale University. But after the report was written, the district refused to release it. The teachers then filed a Freedom of Information Act demand to see the report.   Last week, it was finally released. But it is so heavily redacted (i.e., blacked-out) it is unreadable.  It looks like something the CIA would hand out when they're trying to cover up for U.S. war atrocities!

On Wednesday at the UFT Delegate Assembly, a motion will be put up requesting the union use it resources to demand the report be released in its entirety, which should bring some transparency to this whole nasty business.

Teachers at Rikers Island who work with incarcerated students are among the most dedicated in our system. Every day they come to work in very difficult conditions in order to teach the students who are most at-risk. These teachers deserve the thanks of all, not to be excessed and many thrown out of their classrooms into the ATR pool. 

What's happening in D79 casts light on the urgent situation of some 1,800 ATRs throughout the DOE.  As teachers are being made the scapegoats for every problem in this society, the  ATR teachers are the most vulnerable.   No one is "secure" in this era of privatization and public school closures..  As we all know, "if you're not an ATR now, you could be soon."

The Motion

  Rikers Island programs -- Release the Full Comer Report
Whereas the DOE commissioned a report from the Comer School Development Project at Yale University to evaluate the effectiveness of the programs on Rikers Island, and

 Whereas the staff as a condition of the study agreed to fully cooperate with the evaluation process including extensive interviews, and

 Whereas the evaluation was intended to guide the future of the programs on Rikers Island, and

 Whereas the report was delivered to the DOE long before the decision to close and reopen the programs on Rikers Island, and

Whereas the Comer School Development Project Report was used by the DOE and the Superintendent of District 79 to justify the closing of the programs on Rikers Island to be replaced by a new program resulting in scores of staff being excessed, and

 Whereas the DOE and the Superintendent of District 79 have refused to provide staff access to the report, and

Whereas the staff and others have made Freedom of Information Act requests only to receive a report with so many redactions as to make it meaningless, be it

 RESOLVED, that the United Federation of Teachers call upon the DOE to release the full report, without redactions, and be it further

RESOLVED that the United Federation of Teachers take such appropriate action, including but not limited to taking an appeal of the FOIA response, as it deems necessary to secure the full report so that the decision to close the programs and create scores of excess staff who are now ATRs will be made transparent .

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice to see this blog posting almost every day.