Many of us who work in public education feel a strong sense of gloom and doom because of what is happening in the schools and in the country overall these days. The public, and the teachers in particular, have been completely shut out of so called school reform, which in reality is a corporate attempt to blame teachers for any educational failure. The reformers want to privatize our schools.
Teachers go to work each day and live a nightmare of totally unrealistic demands being placed on us. A great number of my colleagues have concluded that the situation is only going to get worse.
The big decisions on the direction of the school system for the next four years in New York City will be made very soon by a new mayor. Unless something drastic happens in the next few days, that person will be Bill de Blasio, the current Public Advocate.
There are plenty of reasons to be pessimistic. Just look at some of the names being bandied about as the next potential Chancellor. Carmen Farina or Andres Alonzo are not names that are going to give beleaguered educators and activists much room for hope. However, maybe this letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg opposing some of Bloomberg's eleventh hour co-locations is cause for a little optimism.
Letter From Public Advocate Bill de Blasio on Co-locations
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg City Hall
New York, NY 10007
Chancellor Dennis Walcott Tweed Courthouse
52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007
Dear Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott,
I am unsettled by your Administration's eleventh-hour efforts to push through significant changes to our City's schools that will result in negative consequences for some of our most vulnerable students.
As has been evident time and again, the Department of Education's co-location processes fall short of meeting the needs of parents and children.
The Department has repeatedly pushed through policies that carry significant impacts on communities across the city without sound educational plans for their long- term success. Many of the proposals being discussed at tonight's Panel for Educational Policy meeting regrettably continue that pattern, particularly in their failure to take into account overcrowding or loss of District 75 seats for our city's most vulnerable children.
While I write today to reiterate my call for a moratorium on co-locations and closures, I would like to draw attention to two proposals that exemplify the concerns of parents from around the five boroughs. By the Department's own calculations, the proposal to co-locate American Dream Charter School with P.S. 30 Wilton will cause the X030 building to reach 135 percent capacity when both schools are fully phased in during SY16/17. This will mean significant overcrowding for students. In a second proposal, the expansion of Success Academy Charter School (Harlem 4) with P.S. 149 Sojourner Truth and P.S. M811 Mickey Mantle School, a District 75 school will be forced to lower its enrollment.
Tonight the Panel for Educational Policy will review over 20 proposals, many of them which exemplify this type of poor educational planning. For that reason, I call on PEP members to vote against the proposals before them until we can put in place a more thorough and inclusive process.
Bill de Blasio
Public Advocate for the City of New York
CC: Members of the Panel for Educational Policy
There is a huge opening on the more progressive side of the political spectrum that de Blasio ran through to win the Democratic primary for mayor. Is it possible he will govern that way?
I would be much more hopeful if our union, the United Federation of Teachers, wasn't up to its neck in support for Common Core as well as rating teachers based on student test scores (junk science) and the Danielson Framework.