Sunday, January 31, 2010

I'll Be on WBAI Monday Evening

Mimi Rosenberg and Ken Nash host Building Bridges on 99.5 FM radio: WBAI. I will be one of three guests talking about school closings. The program airs between 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Tune in. Here is the lineup for the program.

WBAI Radio's Building Bridges: Your Community & Labor ReportProduced & Hosted by Mimi Rosenberg & Ken NashMonday, February 1, 2010, 7 - 8 p.m. EST, over 99.5 FMor streaming live at

*************** Stand With Haitians For Reconstruction By Haitians & Against Foreign Exploitation And OccupationAt 4:53 pm the time of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, which left 200,000 dead, some 2 million homeless and thousands more wounded and dying very day from infections, embolism and a lack of medical care and supplies, a broad coalition organized by Haitian activists marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to rally in Foley Square. Their message resounded over the freezing winds - support the Haitian people with services and supplies, not troops. Cease the US military occupation of Haiti and support Haiti’s reconstruction by Haitian workers and respect its sovereignty. Demand that the US and France return the wealth, extracted from Haitian labor, cancel the debt and France repay the reparations extracted from Haiti for its liberation. **********

Instruction, Not Destruction: Protesting Proposed School ClosingswithCarmen Applewhite, Teacher, Candidate for UFT President, Chancellor, International Assocation of Educators for Peace.andJames Eterno, Teacher, Jamaica High School, UFT Chapter Chair, Candidate for UFT Presidentand William Hargraves, Member Coalition for Pubic Education, Parent

The Department of Education’s Panel for Education Policy was meeting at Brooklyn Technical High School, and thousands of teachers, parents, students and concerned community members were out on a chilly January evening to protest the D.O.E.’s plan to close at least 19 city schools this year. All 21 of the schools slated to close are in largely Black and Latino areas and overwhelming populated by students of color. We’ll talk with parent and teacher representatives who were chanting “Instruction, not Destruction”, and claim there’s no justifiable reason for closing the schools and even raise the spectre of privatizing the public school system. **********

Tribeca’s Amish Market Accused Of Wage TheftThe NYS Department of Labor announced a $1.5 million enforcement action against the Amish Market, Park Place store among a number of others over stolen wages. To protect themselves from this and other abuses, the Amish Market’s low wage workers have been trying to unionize, but have been met with firings, harassment and intimidation from the store's management. Local 1500 of the United Food and Commercial Workers who the workers have been seeking to unite with rallied in protest and support of the workers, calling for a boycott of the store. *************** Building Bridges and most WBAI Programs are now being archived for 90 Days. They are also being PodCast. These links will be live ca. 15 minutes after the program ends. To listen, download or pod cast archived shows go to Visit our web site -

To listen to the segment on closing schools, you have to get to about 25 minutes into the show. We are the remainder of the hour.

Queens PEP Member Statement Opposing School Closings

The Queens representative on the PEP asked if I could post his statement opposing school closings and here it is.

Good morning Chancellor Klein, members of the Panel and members of the public. First, I want to thank my colleagues, parents and everybody at the DOE for their dedicated time on this delicate, but necessary topic. I’ve dedicated many hours to this matter. I listened to the community outcry during their public hearings. I held parent meetings in Queens in order to get a better understanding of the school community concerns and the effect this decision would have on those Queens communities. It was important to understand the topic in order to make an informed decision.

As many of you know, I take my role seriously, and have done so since being first appointed to this board 2 years ago.

I believe that is why I was selected by Borough President, Helen Marshall, to serve as her representative and the communities’ advocate during these public meetings.
We are here, whether appointed by the mayor or by different borough presidents, and together we face monthly decisions that at the end of the day affect more than a million students. We need to be mindful of that role, whether it’s in front of a standing room only auditorium like tonight, or in the near empty rooms that are far more common for these meetings.

Our task is still the same.

To safeguard student interests without making a hasty decision.
I don’t believe that simply following the letter of the law is what was expected of the Department when our state elected officials called for the public hearings on these major matters of concern.

I don’t believe the intent of that legislation was for a DOE official to sit in the front of the room, simply to let those most affected vent their frustrations.

I also don’t believe the intent was for families and community members to have none of their concerns addressed, while answering none of their questions.

That can’t be what the legislature envisioned these hearings to be.
Communication is a key component to a successful proposal and listening goes along way too…
The DOE needed to consult and listen to those who would be most affected by these proposals.

I went to those school hearings to listen and to learn.
And I believe I did.
There very well may come a time when I will raise my hand in support of one of these schools being closed.

But I am not there yet, not because I think closing a school should never be a considered choice, but because I think in order to get to that point, we must first ensure it is THE LAST CHOICE.
And, so Mr. Chairman, on behalf of Queens and the Borough President, tonight I vote No and urge my colleagues to do the same.

Thank you.

Dmytro Fedkowskyj
Panel for Educational Policy
Queens Representative

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

19 Schools Rubber Stamped Down the Drain by PEP

Obviously, many of us were up very late last night for the 3:40 a.m. massacre where the Panel for Educational Policy closed down 19 schools. I left around midnight to take care of a family matter; hundreds of people including 7 from Jamaica High School stayed until the bitter end. In the nine hour public comment period, not one speaker spoke out in favor of the closures. Juan Gonzalez wrote an excellent piece on closing schools in the News.

I will try to write more about this later. Today, it felt like we were attending a funeral at Jamaica High School.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Francis lewis High School Chapter Leader Arthur Goldstein has written another great piece on school closings at Gotham

You can also see video of five of my colleagues at

We hope to see everyone at the PEP meeting at Brooklyn Tech tomorrow. It's going to be a long day and evening.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Diane Ravitch Hits one Out of the Park

Professor Ravitch really is on the money talking about how the education privatization movement's use of the name Martin Luther King is wrong on so many levels.

It's at the Huffinton Post.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Press Release

Parent, Student, and Teacher Protesters Win Right to Rally on Bloomberg’s Block

Victory for the first amendment and for those struggling to protect public schools from closures and charter school invasions!

Today, Judge Alvin Hellerstein delivered a ruling granting parent, student, and teacher protesters, who are members of The Emergency Coalition to Stop School Closures, the right to protest on Mayor Bloomberg’s block in New York City. Judge Hellerstein ruled that we live in a democracy, and to the greatest extent possible, we have to find ways to protect our citizens, while not compromising the constitutional rights of others, to demonstrate and express their views. He went on to say that in assessing those values, he found that First Amendment rights support the kind of orderly and peaceful protest the plaintiffs sought to organize. Judge Hellerstein also added that the plaintiffs have the right to a peaceful picket to express their views in relation to important educational policies, particularly the increase in charter schools in the city. Attorneys Norman Siegel and Herbert Tietelbaum successfully argued the case.

“We are very pleased with the Judge’s decision. It is a major win for the right of New Yorkers to peacefully protest including on East 79th Street where the Mayor resides,” attorney Norman Siegel.

“This is a victory not only for the plaintiffs, but for all who want to express their views to elected representatives,” attorney Herbert Tietelbaum.

“I am proud our efforts were successful and that we can take a stand in front of the city and the mayor to prevent the closing and phasing out of our school. Most of all I am happy we can voice our opinion on the city pushing out students in need in order to make room for charter schools and small schools that are very selective,” Khalilah , student, Maxwell High School.

“I am humbled that a homemaker from Red Hook, Brooklyn can take a stand against City Hall and win. The struggle to save our schools and public education is just beginning. Please join us on January 21st on the Mayor’s block to send a message that says no, to the expansion of charter schools in schools like my children’s, P.S. 15 in Red Hook, Brooklyn. We also say no, to the ill defined school closings that pave the way for more charter schools and continue the dismantling of public education,” Lydia Bellahcene, parent, P.S. 15.

“Today is historic for protesting in the City of New York. I am so proud to stand with the parents and students I serve as we fight not only for our right to organize, but as we advocate to protect and preserve public education in our great city. It is not lost on me as an educator that this decision was made on Martin Luther King’s birthday. His legacy of peaceful and loving activism captures the culture of our school, P.S. 15. It is in this spirit that we bring our voices and concerns to the Mayor’s block in the hopes that there, we will be heard,” Julie Cavanagh, teacher, P.S. 15, “We want to thank, with much admiration and respect, Mr. Siegel, Mr. Tittelbaum and their staff, for their tremendous hard work and their dedication to protecting not only our rights, but the rights of all New Yorkers. I also want to thank the amazing parents and students I am so proud to stand behind and support.”

“The decision reaffirms the rights of citizens to protest on a city sidewalk, and prevents the mayor from turning a public city street into his own private front yard. Furthermore, it will allow parents, students, teachers, and members of the 22 communities affected by school closures to have their voices of discontent heard by the Mayor,” Seung Ok, Teacher, Maxwell High School.

“The right to demonstrate is not a given, it must be fought for, and we must be vigilant,” Gustavo Medina, retired teacher, Jamaica High School.

Parents, students, and teachers will hold their peaceful protest on both the North and South side of Mayor Bloomberg's block; East 79st, between 5th and Madison Avenue on Thursday, January 21st, between 4-6:30 pm. Protesters will meet at 5th avenue, on the southwest park side of the block, which will be the staging area and starting point of the protest. In the event of an appeal from The City of New York, the protest will continue on January 21st, in compliance with the NYPD.

Link to a news report.
NY Times

Thursday, January 14, 2010


The week is coming to an end and it's time to do a little review. Two teachers and two students from Jamaica attended the Joint Public Hearing at Norman Thomas in Manhattan on Monday. I was able to speak in defense of that school.

On Tuesday night, my wife, my mother in law, about seven teachers from Jamaica and another student went to Campus Magnet in support of our friends at BCEA High School there. Calvin Whitfield from Jamaica spoke, one of our students took the floor and I had to follow my wife Camille who was excellent.

On Wednesday evening, five teachers from Jamaica, a counselor and two students were at the Citywide Council for High Schools meeting where they unanimously passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on school closings. The UFT was well represented as the Chapter Leaders attending a High School Committee meeting walked to Tweed from UFT headquarters to attend the council meeting.

Later that night I hurried back to Queens to attend the Planning Board 8 meeting where there was a great deal of discussion on Jamaica and that board is planning on adopting a resolution in support of the school. There was a contingent from the school including parents, students and teachers at that meeting also.

It was good to see that Gotham Schools published a piece I co-wrote with Francis Lewis High School Chapter Leader Arthur Goldstein.

Tonight I am catching up on emails and getting reacquainted with my daughter Kara. I understand students from Jamaica are going again to one of the schools proposed for phase out in the Bronx to work with pupils there on their student alliance. That's great stuff.

Saturday morning, I will be speaking at the emgergency parent meeting on school closing and charter invasions of public schools at the School for the Future in Manhattan.

There were a couple of negative points that were a little depressing. School closings were relegated to pages 26-30 in the NY Teacher. That's not exactly a priority story. Also, at Wednesday's UFT High School Committee a new Chapter Leader suggested that the UFT was capable of shutting down all the schools and he was met with a response of, "Grow up." When a call for some kind of major union action is dismissed as blasphemy by a member of the ruling caucus, it shows you the state of our union better than anything I can say.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Husband and Wife Speak Out!

Judge for yourself the kind of trade unionists we are.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Beach Channel video from Norm

Thanks to Norm for posting the video from Beach Channel. Here it is.

School Closings

Over at ED Notes, Norm has a piece on Alfred E smith's protest. Go over there and see the video of their protest.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Save our Schools Fight Continues

In case you have been wondering what we have been doing lately, we are fighting with every ounce of energy we have to try to save 22 schools slated for phase out including Jamaica High School where I am the Chapter Leader. Please join us by emaling the Chancellor and the members of the Panel for Educational Policy. The final decisions will be made on January 26,2010 at Brooklyn Tech.



you tube

Gotham Schools

Ed Notes from Beach Channel, Jamaica and Columbus

you tube Jamaica hearing

The rally