Thursday, March 28, 2013


The NY Post got one right today.  Why won't UFT president Michael Mulgrew debate his opponent in the upcoming UFT election, Julie Cavanagh?

Even more insulting, he offered to send a subordinate out to debate Julie.  Could you imagine the President of the US saying he'll send out an aide to debate the other party's nominee? Mulgrew is basically stating that he is too important to discuss issues with members so they can make an informed choice.

Election ballots will be mailed out on April 3 when we return to school. The full article is pasted below with a link also.

New York Post

Foe: UFT boss is chicken


Last Updated: 3:25 AM, March 28, 2013
MICHAEL MULGREW - In re-election fight.
Brash-talking teachers-union boss Michael Mulgrew is a chicken and a hypocrite, union critics charge.
Mulgrew is ducking a debate with his United Federation of Teachers rival before next month’s union elections, The Post has learned.
Special-education teacher Julie Cavanagh is challenging Mulgrew’s re-election bid and has personally asked him to participate in a “town hall” debate.
“To this point you have ignored outreach regarding your participation in a debate or question-and-answer town hall with me,” Cavanagh said in a March 14 letter to Mulgrew.
And a top aide to Mulgrew confirmed that the incumbent would not debate Cavanagh. Instead, Mulgrew’s political handlers offered to have one of the subordinates from his Unity Caucus debate her.
Cavanagh ally James Eterno said, “If he’s not going to debate, that’s hypocritical.”

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Wow. While having breakfast with my husband and almost nine month old son (who is finally on the mend after more than a week of a fever ranging 102-104 every day, during the same time my best friend’s 18 month old daughter was in the hospital, who by the way is also a teacher and a single mother of two young children) I picked up my phone to see a mention on Twitter from Arthur Goldstein (teacher and chapter leader in Queens). I frankly couldn’t believe what I was reading. Usually a mention from Arthur has me in stitches, not this time.

Now instead of relaxing while my baby takes a nap, I am writing this in response to comments on the ICE and MORE blogs attacking my commitment as a unionist and chapter leader and questioning my worthiness as a candidate for UFT President. All of this because I, and the caucus I represent, had the nerve to insist that Michael Mulgrew engage in a forum or debate with me so that our members can be fully informed and engaged when it comes to their voting choices in the upcoming election.

First let me say that I do not feel I need to defend my role as a chapter leader. Nearly every UFT member in our school, signed my petition for UFT President, and many of my colleagues are actually running in this election with MORE. 

Second, I certainly do not need to defend my attendance at Delegate Assemblies. While I do attend, often, DAs are not a democratic forum. As I am sure the commenters on the ICE and MORE blogs know, and as all Unity folks know, for most chapter leaders, the first DA in October is their last. Why? Because, the room is not even large enough for all of the CLs and delegates to be seated and when you do go and sit, you listen to Mulgrew practice his stand up routine for an hour or so, after which you *might* have the chance to ask a question or bring a resolution to the floor if Mulgrew recognizes you. Regardless, it is an effort in futility because it really doesn’t matter what you say, ask or bring to the floor; the ruling Unity caucus will disagree with it or vote it down, since they control the DA. If the UFT leadership actually held Delegate Assemblies each month that were informative and provided fair and ample time for discourse and discussion, I would be there in a New York minute. As this is not the case, I attend as many delegate assemblies as I can, but sometimes other events such as a childcare issue, my son being ill or an important meeting in my community to bring a new partner into Red Hook to service children and families with disabilities will take precedence. I do not need to go to the delegate assembly to prove who I am or that I am committed to my union; I act every day in a way that highlights why I should be president of the UFT.

I am a mother and a teacher. I have been a teacher for thirteen years, and have been working with children with special needs and their families for even longer. I have stayed in the same community and school since moving to NYC in 2001, because I am committed to the process of leading school change and improvement from the school level. I became chapter leader at the request of my colleagues a few years ago and have worked hard with them, our parents, and our principal to make sure our children and our teachers have the best learning and working conditions possible. I fought for my school during the dictatorship that my union handed to the mayor, during a co-location of a charter school in my building that my union didn’t adequately help fight (which is difficult since the UFT leadership chose to co-locate its own charter), while our class sizes rise steadily and our budgets are slashed, while teacher’s choice was eliminated and insultingly reinstated to cover no more than a few boxes of pencils, while ATR’s rotate in and out of my building- some of whom have approached me on the brink of tears desperate for someone to listen to their struggle, during a time of a tidal wave of assaults on our children, our schools, and our profession. 

Throughout this time, I not only worked in my own school community, I worked with parents and union members across the city and the country to fight back. You can find links to some of my work here, but I will list a few highlights: I co-wrote/edited/produced/and narrated a film that stood up to corporate education reform, a film that has been seen by hundreds of thousands of people in every state and on every continent (except Antarctica); I have appeared on several TV and radio programs and written several articles where I have spoken out forcefully against corporate education reform and for the schools our children deserve -- and I was invited or asked in every single case to participate, so while those in Unity caucus pretend to not know who I am or what I have done (but yet "know", falsely, that I am not at DAs) apparently the national media does; I have also worked with other union members in the city and nationally -- I helped organize a conference, and attended and facilitated, in Chicago in the summer of 2011 with other teacher union members; I helped lead the solidarity efforts with Verizon workers at the end of that same summer. I have sued, with a parent and a student, Mayor Bloomberg for the right to protest school closings and co-locations on his block and successfully organized and co-led that protest. I was the only teacher petitioner in the effort to stop and overturn the appointment of Cathy Black and also recently the only teacher on record to join with parents in sounding the alarm of student and teacher data privacy issues regarding SLC/inBloom data systems (Randi Weingarten, by the way, sits on inBloom’s advisory board). I say all of this not because I think anything that I am or that I do is so special, I share this information to highlight the outlandishness of the attacks from people whose usual line is there should be no attacks on union folks because we are under attack from outside forces and therefore need ‘unity’. I also share this because these are the things the president of a union should do.

Beyond of all of this, if Unity caucus can attack me for the number of times I went to the DA (this year I believe I have been to four DAs), the number of grievances I have filed (none), the number of UFT trainings or committees I have attended (none), then I wonder why they nominated Randi Weingarten as their presidential candidate, since she never attended a DA as a chapter leader, was never a chapter leader, and therefore never filed a grievance, attended the trainings etc.  

I personally do not think any of those things are what makes someone qualified to run our union. What matters is leadership. What matters is vision. What matters is the philosophy by which one will govern and represent the membership. I believe in a union that is member led and member driven. When I, or a candidate from MORE caucus, become president of the union, you will not have to attend a DA and sit idly and listen. The DA will be yours. When we take over leadership of our union, we will organize, support and build fighting chapters at the school level with elected district representatives who are trained organizers.  When we run the union, leadership and staffers will make salaries equivalent to the teachers we represent -- there will be no extra perks, no double pensions.  When we lead our union, you will not go more than three years without a contract, at least not without organized job actions and a fight. 

When Unity’s stranglehold of the leadership of our union ends, the members will have representation that believes in solidarity with other unions and in the power of our collective action. You will have a union that educates, mobilizes, and organizes our members and the public and who organically partners with parents and young people. You will have a leadership that truly understands that our working conditions are our students' learning conditions, that a harm to one is a harm to us all, and that we must stand side by side with deep roots in the communities we serve to fight for social, racial and economic justice in our schools, in our city and across the country.

I am more than ready to share who I am with the members of the UFT and I am happy to answer their questions. In fact, that is precisely the reason I sent the email below to Michael Mulgrew. I believe a union membership with a less than 30% voter turnout needs to be engaged and exposed to open discourse and conversation between the two people who seek to represent them.

Mr. Mulgrew, I am still waiting for a response. 


My email to Mulgrew:

Sent: Mar 14, 2013 8:01 PM


I hope this email finds you well.

While we have differences and disagreements concerning education policy and union democracy, we both are committed to our union and the children we serve. In that spirit, we should be able to engage in an open conversation during election season so we can ensure our fellow members are informed and engaged.

To this point you have ignored outreach regarding your participation in a debate or question and answer town hall with me. I would like to directly and formally ask you to participate in such an event.

I believe that our members deserve the opportunity to ask questions of their presidential candidates and I strongly believe this kind of open and honest discourse strengthens our union: an educated and engaged membership that is listened to and participates makes us stronger.

There is precedent for an event such as this between presidential candidates during election season.  As you know, Randi has participated in presidential debates in the past: one in 1999 and again in 2001.  

I am open to a debate format with a third party moderator or a town hall question and answer event with the membership. My only specific asks are that the event be filmed and/or livestreamed so that we can maximize member participation, that the date, which I am open to any, be agreed to a few days in advance, so that I can secure child care and that the date be as close to April 3rd as possible, so that we provide a fair amount of time for members during the election timeframe.

I look forward to your response.

In solidarity,
Julie Cavanagh

Links to embed:
Link to comment sections w/ attacks from both blogs:
Link to put where it says "here" for some of my work:
Link to film:

Friday, March 22, 2013


Chapter Leader Gloria Brandman corrects the record on her vote against the UFT School Governance Committee plan. Read what she says in bold and then you can look at the emails between Gloria and Carmen Alvarez, UFT Special Education VP. Below that is my commentary.

Fact: The final Meeting of the Governance Committee was held on March 12, 2013 which was Parent / Teacher night in most elementary schools around the city.
Fact: I emailed Carmen and Emil letting them know about this mandated night meeting.
Fact: Carmen said that they know but would hold the meeting anyway. (See emails)

Fact: The prior meeting before March 12 was March 7. This was the meeting when the vote for approval was held. Myself and Joan S. attended and voted NO to the governance plan regarding the PEP.
Fact: I was not allowed to correct the record at the DA although I was calling out Pt of Personal Privilege because the speakers were incorrect in what they were saying.

Here are the emails:
To: Jamie Hutchins; Carmen Alvarez

Cc: Paul Moore
Subject: Re: Governance Meeting to Review Final Documents
Tomorrow night is P/t Conferences for most of the Elementary schools, most falling between 5-8pm.
Gloria Brandman

Sent: Mon, Mar 11, 2013 11:47 pm
Subject: RE: Governance Meeting to Review Final Documents

Yes but we have a timeline....Carmen

Sent: Tue 3/12/2013 7:02 AM
To: Carmen Alvarez; Jamie Hutchins
Cc: Paul Moore; Emil Pietromonaco
Subject: Re: Governance Meeting to Review Final Documents
I will not be able to attend, therefore. 
How many elementary school teachers are on this committee? 
Thanks. Gloria

its a mix ....Carmen

What kind of committee chairs schedule a meeting when they know certain members cannot attend and then declare that they have unanimous approval for what they put out and subsequently do not say anything when other committee members criticize someone who could not possibly have attended that meeting?

The only thing Carmen said at the DA on Wednesday concerning this was to scream at me to sit down when I raised a Point of Order to stop the personal attacks against Gloria.

Emil and Carmen: I respect the two of you as I have worked with both of you.  I really hope you will apologize to Gloria for what Mulgrew allowed to go on at the DA Wednesday.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


It is the middle of the UFT election season and I am running on the MORE slate so this is clearly a Delegate Assembly report from my perspective. With that said, I don’t think any fair minded person would be proud of what happened at the March 20, 2013 Delegate Assembly during the discussion on mayoral control. UFT President Michael Mulgrew, and his followers in the Unity Caucus, didn't want to discuss their School Governance Report much but rather tried to engage in personal attacks against two people on the UFT School Governance Committee who opposed it. Unity also voted down a presidential candidates' debate.  No surprise there as they wouldn't dare risk having Mulgrew debate Julie Cavanagh from MORE.

The only controversial item on the DA agenda was a School Governance Report being presented by the School Governance Committee.  Back in 2009, this same committee issued a report to reform mayoral control of the schools by limiting the power of the mayor over the schools in several ways. That Committee was chaired by Special Education Vice President Carmen Alvarez and Staten Island Borough Representative Emil Pietromonaco. In 2013, they came together again to basically dust off the old report and update it a little.  The UFT is calling for some checks and balances but a continuation of mayoral control of the schools.

In Mulgrew’s Presidents' Report, he basically motivated the resolution to accept the School Governance Report by saying that if the report was to be accepted by the Legislature, it would take away three of the mayor’s votes on the Panel for Educational Policy, leaving him/her with five members, instead of the current eight, while the Borough Presidents would retain their five members. The other three would come from the Comptroller, City Council Speaker and the Public Advocate so the PEP would remain at thirteen members. The mayor would need to convince two panel members  he/she did not appoint that his policy is right for it to be approved. The UFT calls this a check on mayoral control.

There were other minor tweaks such as giving School Leadership Teams a greater say in choosing candidates for principal’s positions, no waivers for education requirements for Chancellors, fixed terms for PEP members and Superintendents, and a mandate that Community Education Councils approve all school co-locations. 

I would call it mayoral control light as it would pretty much take us back to the 1996 law that limited the power of the old school boards. In those days the mayor appointed two members to the Board of Education and the borough Presidents appointed the other five.  Therefore, the mayor's appointees had to persuade two other Board members to approve a policy. That is the same number he/she would have to convince under the new UFT proposal.  

My own opinion is that this better than what we have now but it does not nearly go far enough in creating a democratic school governance system.  I don't understand why we have never had a democratically elected central school board in NYC.  I also cannot fathom why the UFT would endorse letting the School Leadership Team pick three finalists for principal positions and then let the Chancellor pick from them.  That is so similar to the old system when the C-30 Committee chose five candidates for principal positions and then the Superintendent picked two and then the Chancellor made the final decision.  The system was so easy to manipulate (people would drop out until the person the Superintendent wanted was the only one left even if the C-30 Committee at the school rejected an applicant).  When I was on the UFT Executive Board, I introduced a resolution to form a UFT committee to reform this system because the supervisory selection process was a joke. The resolution passed and I served on the Supervisory Selection Committee. I recall that we called for elected leaders in that report. Now we want to go back to a form of the system we called a joke back in 1998.

Yes the School Governance Committee is proposing an improvement from what there is now but it isn't that much better.  Why doesn't the UFT ever ask for everything we could possibly want and then settle for a few gains instead of starting out asking for only a little and then getting next to nothing?

Mulgrew in his report emphasized that the Governance Committee worked hard and volunteered their time.  He also said that mayoral control should not equal mayoral dictatorship. 

Later in the meeting, the resolution to accept the report came to the floor.  A Unity person spoke and then someone tried to quickly end the debate. To his credit Mulgrew didn't allow this and asked if someone would like to speak against the report. Gloria Brandman from the MORE caucus rose to oppose it.  She said that the tweaks in the report would not change much as it would still be mayoral control.  She stated that all the mayor would have to do is buy off two politicians and then he has his dictatorship back (Staten Island’s representative on the PEP usually votes with the current mayor as does the City Council Speaker on many issues so it might not be too difficult for the mayor to keep a majority.) Gloria asked for a democratic system of governance run by communities, parents and educators.

This would have been a routine discussion and the Unity majority could have put their rubber stamp on the report but Gloria said something that apparently Mulgrew did not like. She stated that Mulgrew erroneously reported that the vote to approve the report by the committee was unanimous. Gloria said she was present at the early March meeting and as she remembers it, she voted against the report. Being a fair and decent person, she stated that perhaps it was possible that the chairs did not see her hand raised when she voted no. That is why she was correcting the record at the DA.

Mulgrew responded by saying this was serious. He wanted to know if the committee made a mistake so he asked the people on the committee to speak to see if they saw a no vote. The majority Unity caucus committee members, who sign an oath to support the Unity leadership in union and public forums, jumped at the low hanging fruit. They put their hands in the air to obtain the floor and were recognized by the president and one one by one they declared that they did not see anyone vote against the report in committee, thus attacking Gloria who at this point was asking for a point of personal privilege since she was now essentially being called a liar.

Mulgrew refused to recognize Gloria but instead let the Unity faithful continue their attack. MORE’s Peter Lamphere called for a Point of Information and asked if Mulgrew was aware that Joan Seedorf was also on the committee and voted no. Mulgrew would not recognize this and instead called on another Unity person to say that nobody voted against the report. At this point it was becoming ridiculous as Gloria was again trying to be recognized and nobody was discussing the substance of the report so I raised a Point of Order to scream out that I was not going to allow the personal attacks to continue. Mulgrew would not permit me to make the Point of Order and called me out of order. He then told Delegates that they should confine their remarks to the School Governance Report so I basically was able to get what I was asking for. Soon thereafter, the usual Unity majority rubber stamped the report.

Mike Shirtzer from MORE made a motion that there should be a UFT presidential candidates' debate that should be live streamed between New Action-Unity’s Michael Mulgrew and MORE’s Julie Cavanagh sometime between now and April 10. Since this motion was for this month, no discussion was allowed but the Unity majority overwhelmingly defeated it. (I guess they are afraid of Mulgrew debating Julie.  Having seen both Julie and Mulgrew in action on numerous occasions, I can understand why Unity is afraid of a debate.)

Besides the School governance Report, President Mulgrew updated the delegates on a number of issues.

Mulgrew declared it is the best budget in a decade proving that our lobby day efforts and our political action have done wonders. There will be an increase of around $800 million in state aid.

Mulgrew said the UFT wants the report as soon as possible. The City strategy is to stretch out the process. May 6 is the first hearing date; we are in the process of scoping now. The mayor does not want the report to be part of the campaign for who his successor will be.

Mulgrew told Delegates that the UFT has gone back to the arbitrator for the fourth time. DOE owes us money. The time has been extended to March 22, 2013 for when people must be paid for work done on SESIS during non-school time. While the President does not want members to be insubordinate, he says if members are asked to do work outside of regular time, they must abide and then call and email the UFT that they can’t do the work during the regular day.  DOE must also start paying the back pay for work done on non-school time by the April 15 pay period. The arbitrator said all titles deserve time to do this and the DOE must start the impact bargaining he called for in his award.

Mulgrew stated that the DOE is finally acknowledging we deserve a curriculum after 11 years. DOE also agrees we should not be doing Units of Study. City is paying Pearson and McGraw Hill for curriculum we have never seen. All are expecting test scores to plummet. Mulgrew wants to know how 48 states can use Common Core but how can we do it without a curriculum?

Mulgrew thanked volunteers who are working on political endorsements. He said the Political Action Department makes recommendations to the officers and then it goes to the Executive Board and finally the DA. He stated that we have done 150 interviews.

On the mayor’s race, he said that some unions are pushing not endorsing in the Democratic Primary but the mayor’s race is more important to us than other city unions. Mulgrew then called for debate in the DA in April about the mayor’s race. He concluded this section by noting that we are the only big city teacher union that has avoided layoffs in this economic downturn.

Let me see if I have this right: Yes we should debate who we want for mayor but not debate who should be UFT President. That says all I need to know about Unity Caucus.

Staff Director Leroy Barr gave a number of dates for UFT functions including a rally against gun violence.

Question about state budget impact on the classroom
Mulgrew answer: Mayor looking for 9 year contracts and making future co-locations already. It is difficult to get state money actually into the schools. City budget could be a tough one. We must talk to parents about test score drop when it inevitably happens.

Question about if Chancellor Dennis Walcott and his deputies will stay beyond January 1, 2014 when there is a new mayor
Answer: New mayor will choose the Chancellor. Transition and structure will have to be discussed.

Question about evaluation negotiations
Answer: It’s all games now. We have to see the language in the state budget law. Nobody expects much from talks now.

Next was the aforementioned motion on a presidential debate and the School Governance Committee Report resolution. The MORE people left after the governance business as many were going to the Panel for Educational Policy to support schools that were being closed or subject to co-location.


New York City Council
Manhattan 05--Micah Kellner
Bronx 14—Fernando Cabrera
Bronx 16—Vanessa Gibson
Queens 27—Daneek Miller
Queens 29—Karen Kowlowitz
Queens 31—Elizabeth Crowley
Brooklyn 37—Raphael Espinal
Brooklyn 43—Vincent Gentile
Brooklyn 46—Alan Maisel
Staten Island 51—Vincent Ignizio

All candidates are Democrats except for Ignizio who is a Republican

I was not around for the vote on these endorsements or any other regular agenda items but I assume they all passed.

After this month’s fiasco with the way the governance discussion was handled, I am beginning to finally think that maybe my friends are right and there is no reason to go to the DA as it is pretty much an affront to democracy. It looks like what the French writer Alex de Tocqville once called "The tyranny of the majority" in his famous book Democracy in America.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


March 11 was another sad evening for students, teachers and parents as Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Panel for Educational Policy voted to phase out 20 schools and close two more this June at the annual school closing meeting in Brooklyn. This brings the total of schools closed to around 140 in the years of Bloomberg’s reign over our city.

When school was dismissed on Monday, I made my way over to Brooklyn Tech for the PEP.  The UFT and public presence was not as great as it has been in the past as a sense of futility has set in.  President Michael Mulgrew was not even in town; he was in Cincinnati. The upstart MORE caucus was there protesting outside and inside and there was a group from the UFT’s leadership as well as members from the impacted schools that were present.  UFT Secretary Michael Mendel did represent the Union very well. 

He gave an impassioned plea to the PEP to end the school closing policy that he knew would fall on deaf ears as the mayor’s majority always approves Department of Ed proposals. He said that after twelve years in power the DOE should be ashamed of themselves for continuing to close schools instead of fixing them. 

Secretary Mendel mentioned one specific school that should not have been closed: Jamaica High School!  He then told the panel why Jamaica deserved to remain open.
I didn’t have to wait too long after Mendel spoke to be able to address the panel as there was a resolution raised by the Queens and Manhattan Borough President’s representatives to put a moratorium on school closings and co-locations. This came up fairly early in the evening and public comment was allowed rather early.  

The DOE seems to be trying to make it intimidating to even speak as two DOE security people surround the speaker and the speaker is kind of roped in.  I went ahead and told the PEP about how the Educational Impact Statement at Jamaica High School is a fictitious document since students are not able to finish their programs as the DOE promised.  Any student who came to Jamaica for the Engineering, Computer Science, Business or Finance programs was out of luck when the school when the PEP voted to phase us out.  I informed the PEP that they vote and forget us but real lives are impacted.

I related how former PTA President Charm Rhoomes and I wrote to the State Education Commissioner and with the help of Senator Tony Avella, the State Education Department sent Dr. Holder to Jamaica last year and her scathing report backed up what we were saying about how students at Jamaica were being cheated in the phase out process.  I had barely enough time left to talk about how Andrew Jackson High School was one of the initial schools that was phased out back in the nineties and just to prove how unsuccessful the school closing and small schools policy is, the DOE is now phasing out two of the four replacement schools that are in that building.  When will this insane policy end? 
It was no surprise that Mendel, Councilman Charles Baron, and others who spoke for the moratorium did not persuade the mayoral appointees on the PEP to support them.  The mayor’s reps and Staten Island all voted against and only the representatives from Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens voted to place the hold on closures and co-locations.  Brooklyn abstained. Chancellor Dennis Walcott even boasted of his power and the uselessness of the PEP when he said this regarding closing schools, “At the end of the day, the decision is mine.”
Also, in an ironic twist, one of the schools protesting was a middle school in Brooklyn that will have the UFT Charter middle-high school co-located in their building. For the record when I was on the UFT Executive Board, I voted no on the UFT starting a charter school. I think I was alone in that vote.  

I had the pleasure of riding home after leaving the PEP with NAACP’s Ken Cohen who continues to strongly support closing schools who are attempting the remain open. 

You can watch video of the night over at Education Notes.

Read all about it at Gotham where we are quoted.

I was also featured, thanks to some help from MORE presidential candidate Julie Cavanagh, on NY 1's The Call, to speak on school closings.

Read Queens Chronicle story here.  (Can't believe they put my picture in the Chronicle piece.)

        MORE at 3/1113 PEP Note Presidential candidate Julie Cavanagh and son Jack at left.

Saturday, March 09, 2013


I went to today's monthly MORE (Movement of Rank and File Educators) meeting and I was astonished to learn that the UFT Executive Board will be having their regular meeting on Monday evening instead of postponing it for a day it to come and support members in over 20 schools that are slated for closure at that night's Panel for Educational Policy meeting at Brooklyn Tech High School.

Surely whatever is on the UFT Exec Bd. agenda could wait a day.  Multiple schools are about to be shuttered or phased out with teachers, parents, students and communities impacted but according to my sources, the UFT will only be sending a contingent to the PEP. In addition, there are no official UFT plans for any kind of protest that I am aware of.

Yes, these PEP events are bogus as the mayor's majority on the panel never goes against Department of Education proposals however the powerful UFT needs to officially be there in force, as they have been in prior years, to show disgust with the process.

One caucus in the UFT will be there.  MORE will have a rally before the PEP meeting outside Brooklyn Tech and will be staying for the PEP.

We do not intend to let the DOE get away with closing our schools without us telling them how we feel.  I will try to speak at the PEP.

Below is MORE's statement.

 Join the rally, stay for the hearing to speak against school closings and co-locations!

From Chicago, to Philadelphia, to right here in New York City the fight against senseless school closings has reached a fever pitch. The communities are coming out by the masses and standing together as one against the corporate “reform” forces. Everyone now knows the truth, closing schools is not about helping our children nor is about better serving our communities; it’s about privatizing education and turning our children into profits. Closing schools is meant to make wealthy individuals wealthier while having no consideration for our children. We are calling on all educators, parents, students, and community members to join us and protest further harm to our students, our city, and our future. The puppet panels making these decisions have no regard for the city they supposedly serve. A mayor, who has no mandate, received less then 55% percent of the vote, appointed these members. He is serving an illegal third term after the the citizens of New York voted for term limits, with less than a year less in his term he has no right to close our schools. The time is now to halt this process, which has not resulted in better schools for our city. Many of the schools that will be closed will be replaced by charter schools where a CEO makes millions, while low paid, in many cases non-union teachers have tremendous turn-over rates. Children in charter schools are routinely exposed to less experienced teachers and there is no substantial evidence that there is any improvement in their education. Instead of filling the pockets of private individuals with public funds, let’s reinvest that money where it should be, with our children in our public schools.

The governor in speeches through-out the state has spoken of wrap-around services, we say why wait? Let’s offer this immediately and not a second later to all the schools that have been targeted for “reutilization”.  Let’s provide our children more after-school programs, more one to one services, and offer them a real chance to succeed by giving them the full resources of the state and city.There are excessed teachers and guidance counselors who are juggled from school to school each week, we demand that these highly trained and experienced professionals be placed in schools targeted for closing  immediately. This will allow class sizes to be reduced and students to receive more services. This is reform, this is helping our students, and this is truly serving the community.

The Mayor, DOE, and puppet panels must come out and say the truth, closing schools is racist policy. As our candidate for UFT treasurer Camille Eterno stated "there are never schools that have significant white populations that are targeted for closure but rather it is in places like Southeast Queens, a mostly African American neighborhood and in other predominantly African American or Latino areas where schools are closed." The government must have a full examination of this policy. In a city as diverse as New York the people deserve an answer as to why only schools in communities with African-Americans, Latinos, and immigrant communities are continuously closed. Until we have answers there must be a moratorium on school closings.

The DOE under chancellor Walcott must put aside it’s anti-teacher campaign and work with our union to empower our communities. Let’s work together to rebuild the schools by sitting down with parents, students, and the educators of targeted schools to find real solutions to real issues. The answer is not to bring in consultants that cost millions with ideas they read in some education journal, the answer is to use those funds to better serve our students by adding classes, staff, and services that directly affect pupils.

The School Leadership Teams (SLT) which are voted in and represent all constituents of the school; parents,staff, and students need to be given power in this process. They should be consulted in any decision that affects the school. Bring in new administrators that are chosen by a procedure that best serves the interests of the entire community, not a superintendent or network leader sitting in an office that has never visited the school. The current C-30 process is a fraud and is for show only. The parents and staff have no voice and they know it. This must change, the people in charge of a school have a real impact and the process for choosing them must seek to be as democratic as possible to ensure students are getting the right person for the job. If the C-30 and SLT have been turned into shams how can we expect the schools to succeed. This was all done on purpose so that the mayor and patronage lackeys could close down schools and bring in their millionaire friends to steal from our public funds. Let's change this now instead of closing schools, let's empower the members of our schools to make changes that best serve everyone.

MORE demands an immediate end to closing schools; we will not rest until this demand is met. We stand in solidarity with all community members everywhere that are fighting to preserve public education against forces of reform that seek to fatten their bank accounts NOT serve our community. Join us this Monday, join every school closing hearing, every PEP, to have your voice heard, and most importantly to protect our children's future

Wednesday, March 06, 2013


By now I am sure some of you have heard that there was a pepper spray incident yesterday at Queens Collegiate, a new small school located in the Jamaica High School building.  Multiple students and an assistant principal were hurt. This was not the first major incident at this 6-12 school that was shoved into Jamaica before Jamaica High School faced phase out. I am not reporting on this to criticize QC. This could have happened anywhere.

What was particularly interesting for us was the Department of Education, according to a reporter, first put out a statement saying that this particular occurrence took place at Jamaica High School when our school, our students and staff had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Did DOE make an honest mistake?

Students at Jamaica think not and expressed that openly today.

It looks to them like the DOE is no longer content to sweep incidents under the rug in the new schools, instead they are now trying to sweep the mess over to the school they don't like: Jamaica.

Truth did win out in the end mostly after we called CBS, NBC, and the Daily News.  Updated versions of the story were much more accurate. 

Note the student comments in the Channel 4 version.

Here also is the Jamaica Times version.  At least they called me before they printed it.