Archives For January 2018

2018 Winter-Spring

Dear Concerned School Community Member:  

Closing schools has turned into an epidemic across the United States.  In NYC, school after school has been closed. It is time that students, parents, educators, and community members stand together and fight against this harmful practice.

School closures only happen in low-income communities and disproportionately impact students and families of color. Instead of getting to the root of problems, closure causes harm as it scatters students, pushes veteran teachers out, and hands space over to charter schools which do not serve all students, and often use racist “zero-tolerance” discipline policies. In many cases space and even whole buildings have been handed over to charter schools. Closures damage the school system as a whole, making every school with a majority of families with low incomes fear that their school will be the next one closed.

Mayor De Blasio has continued the closures that Bloomberg started. His Renewal Schoo

l Program claimed to give resources to struggling schools, but the truth is that most of the money was spent on outside consultants, instead of giving the schools the resources they actually need.

We seek to expose the failed policy of closing schools. We demand the city provide adequate resources for all schools, and we bring people together to advocate for finding real solutions to socio-economic problems such as low-wages, homelessness and poverty that affect so many of our students. Many of us are teachers who are members of the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), a caucus within the United Federation of Teachers.

Some people see this as “a done deal” and do not see the point in fighting. But as long as this policy continues we are all under threat. We need as many school communities as possible to voice opposition to school closings and to advance alternatives. It’s powerful when people from different schools facing possible closure meet and share experiences.   Continue Reading…

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26197818_556054368092832_7706081833357587008_oBackground

The disintegration of public education can be felt in these school based issues:

  • the misuse and over reliance on high stakes standardized testing
  • crippling defunding and loss of valuable programs
  • targeting of veteran educators and top down control over pedagogy.

These conditions have directly impacted our daily lives and our students. Where natural disasters could not take down entire school districts as they did in New Orleans and Puerto Rico, man-made ones are initiated and funded by corporate reformers and elected officials. The most disproportionate impact has been on our schools located in predominantly Black and Brown communities.

 

color-of-closures

We face a harsh reality. New York City is the most segregated school system in the nation. School failure labels and turnaround programs are features of the institutionally racist policies of corporate education reform. Disproportionately, schools in high poverty and Black and Brown communities have faced take over, reallocation of funding to outside consulting agencies and controlled curriculum, while engaging student programming have been cut. Educators and students in these communities feel insurmountable pressures to overcome inequalities they never created in the first place.

We continue to disproportionately suspend and implement harsh disciplinary actions on Black and Brown students. Continue Reading…

STOP ESTRELLA AND GARG, ABUSING TEACHERS, ABUSING CHILDREN

CPE 1 parents and teachers protest their abusive principal at a Panel for Education Policy meeting.

By Catlin Preston, former Delegate, Central Park East I Elementary School

This article originally appeared in Ethics in Education Network News.

I have told this story of my “disappearance” too many times and yet not often enough in forums that might lead to change. The NYC Department of Education (DOE) disciplinary process for teachers in its current form is deeply unethical, with damaging effects on teachers, students, and schools. Unfortunately, my own experience is by no means unique. Over the last year, several teachers have told me their own similar stories.

On Friday, March 11, 2016, the principal of Central Park East 1, where I had taught for almost nine years, handed me a letter telling me I was reassigned pending the outcome of an investigation and directing me to report to a “reassignment center” on Monday.  I refer to this as my “disappearance”: from one day to the next I was made to disappear from my classroom and school communities, with no explanation to anyone and no process for saying good-bye. There was no consideration of the impact of this sudden change on the children in my care, the families of those children, or the school as a whole.

This principal had been recently appointed to CPE 1, after a period of interim acting status.  She quickly began to make known her disdain for the school, for long-standing practices and pedagogies, and for veteran staff members, as well as for families and children.  Soon after my disappearance, the SaveCPE1 movement was born, as more and more families felt the impact of her egregious treatment. Eleven months later, Marilyn Martinez, United Federation of Teachers (UFT) chapter chair, was “disappeared” also.

After a day in the reassignment center, I was sent to work in a special education office.  I was in the “rubber room,” though at least I was doing useful work and not staring at the walls.  During my first few weeks, I expected that at any moment someone would arrive and tell me that they had cleared everything up: A terrible mistake had been made and I could return to my classroom, my school, my kids.

Continue Reading…

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