Advocates For Children On NYC Charters: “Civil Rights Suspended”

March 20, 2015

Of the many disgusting tactics of the billionaire and hedge fund messiahs who are almost entirely responsible for the catastrophe collectively known as “education reform,” none to my mind is more disgusting than their usurpation of the language and iconography of the Civil Rights Movement,perhaps the most spiritually charged and heroic undertaking in American history. This usurpation is never more evident than in their slick and ceaseless propaganda for charter schools, the publically funded privately managed institutions so beloved of hedge funders and so destructive of community and the public school system itself.
Less than two weeks before Governor Andrew Cuomo threaten to lift the cap on such institutions, comes this report by Advocates for Children that speaks truth to money and should be read by every citizen in the state of New York and beyond.

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http://www.advocatesforchildren.org/sites/default/files/library/civil_rights_suspended.pdf?pt=1


Bonds and Blackboards: Education Reform and Oligarchy 101

March 10, 2015

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Herein the lie that is called “education reform” in essence. Herein the unholy alliance between absurdly rich businessmen, Wall Street bond traders, Ivy League think tankers and non-profit “community organizations” that have busied themselves undermining public education. Herein The Gates Foundation and The Walton Family Foundation, there to purchase anyone and anything that stands in the way of their lust to remake schools in their grotesque, one-dimensional image. Herein Harvard, there to give the insidious takeover of public education and transfer of public money into private hands the veneer of academic respectability of the highest order. Herein Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), there to create the illusion that a super slick top-down corporate campaign is really a spontaneous grassroots movement akin to the Civil Rights Movement and the Abolitionists.
And herein the essence of a thriving oligarchy in an increasingly farcical ghost of a democracy.

You’re invited.


What Cuomo Wants

March 8, 2015

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It is no secret that Governor Andrew Cuomo, a man of terrifying ambition, wants someday to be the president of the United States. To prove himself worthy of the limitless financial backing of the One Percent to whom he answers and in whose name he governs, Cuomo wants to prove that he can achieve two goals that no previous governor of New York, never mind one of the Democratic Party, has ever even dreamt about. By the end of his second term as Governor, Andrew Cuomo wants to leave a New York State in which the public school system has been largely or completely privatized and one in which public unions, particularly the teachers’ unions, have been all but eviscerated. In fact, if all goes Cuomo’s way, he will leave New York State well on the way to being a Right To Work state before the vast majority of people even know what hit them.

To achieve these extraordinarily radical ends, Cuomo in his State of the State speech put forth a number of extraordinarily radical proposals. If passed into law on April 1, they will render the New York State public school system and the teaching profession that sustains it almost unrecognizable and certainly unsustainable. Collectively, once implemented, the proposals will inevitably lead to a mass firing of teachers, a mass exodus of teachers and a mass shortage of teachers, as no one in his or her right mind would enter a field in which working conditions were so degrading, evaluations so unfair and arbitrary, and job security virtually non existent. The mass bloodletting and exodus as well as the unsustainability is most certainly the point, even as Cuomo, the self-proclaimed “advocate of students, “ wants the general public to believe that he believes otherwise.

Cuomo wants the public to believe that his insidious attacks and demeaning demands on teachers are necessary, while at the same time the offer of merit pay — a scheme that has been tried and has failed for over a century — will magically attract serious and qualified people to teaching.

Cuomo wants to keep the vast majority of people oblivious to what he is doing and confused as to why he is doing it.
To keep people oblivious, Cuomo wants those New Yorkers who are even aware of his proposals to believe in his apocalyptic vision of a “crisis of failing schools,” which, in turn, will lead them to believe that his proposals are actually about improving public education rather than eliminating it, and then using that process of elimination to undermine the teachers union. He knows that if New York State’s public school system is privatized, all bets are off and the floodgates are open. Cuomo wants to be the governor responsible for opening those gates and directing that flood into the radical reconfiguration of labor relations across the board and, at the same time, launching a full scale attack on the social contract itself.

The governor wants New Yorkers to believe he cares, and cares deeply, about the welfare of children, that much the more African American and Hispanic children in poverty; therefore, he wants New Yorkers to remain in the dark about the judicial decision in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case, in which it was decreed that New York State owes New York City schools upwards of $ 2. 5 billion, a decision Cuomo refuses to even recognize despite the fact that the state has a surplus.

Moreover, Cuomo wants people to believe that, despite the neo liberal underpinnings of his politics, he, Andrew Cuomo, is somehow “progressive.” To create and sustain this illusion, he has supported gay marriage and raising the minimum wage; he has come out against fracking and will even meet with and praise certain private sector union leaders, the better to undermine labor solidarity. This Cuomo will do even as he and his proxies in billionaire created fronts like Families For Excellent Schools do everything in their power to demonize teachers and undermine the teachers’ unions.

Andrew Cuomo wants to divide and conquer, and at this dark art he is very cunning and very skillful.
He wants New Yorkers to see his all out attack on teachers as one that is isolated to the teaching profession and not, in fact, as an all out war on labor in the state and a prelude to the privatization of the social contract itself.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is a man of terrifying ambition who wants to be the president of the United States and is willing to go to any lengths, any lengths at all, to please the radical and ruthless rich who have stolen the power to catapult him or deny him entrance to the White House.

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Charter School Front Buses Thousands of Children To Albany To Use As Human Props

March 4, 2015

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Playing by their own rules while crying about being oppressed has been a charter school tactic for years and, with the compliance of a wholly subservient media, a highly successful one. When a charter school “co-locates” with a neighborhood school and their demands for whatever space they desire are not immediately met, you can rest assured they will launch a PR campaign claiming that their rights are being violated, and you can rest with equal assurance that the media will report it so. Playing by their own rules took a significant leap today as, under the aegis of the hedge fund created and bank rolled front Families For Excellent Schools, charter chains emptied their schools to bus thousands and thousands of school children to Albany to be used as human props in their ceaseless campaign for more and more of everything at the expense of everyone else. Given the fact that almost all charter schools are anti union, the little ones should be seen, too, as unconscious and innocent extras in the campaign to break the teacher’s union,
clearly the long term goal of Governor Andrew Cuomo. Please note that the principal of any public school who pulled anything remotely like such a stunt as shipping her charges hours away on a school day in the dead of winter would be fired and possibly arrested, as well he or she should be.

Charter school entrepreneurs fear no such consequences and claim, with straight faces, that the thousands of kids were engaged in “a civics lesson.”

Yes, they actually say that.

At times today, everywhere you looked you saw kids decked out in red shirts and red caps both bearing the Familes For Excellent Schools slogan, “Don’t Steal Possible” — about as poorly a constructed sentence as you can make but… what the hell? It’s all about the kids, no ?
I ‘d be curious to see the bill for the thousands of hats and shirts, the mountains of sandwiches, and the hundreds of buses for this excursion but, as with all things charter school, I rather doubt such information is easily obtainable.

This young fellow does not like "failing schools"

This young fellow does not like “failing schools”

I have yet to see any corporate news reports of the use of these children in such a cynical manner in a struggle that they cannot possibly understand, but I am confident that all major media will find it not merely acceptable but as heartwarming as a movie by Disney.
As George W. Bush used to say most blasphemously as he plotted and schemed and conned and terrified America into invading Iraq, “And may God continue to bless America.”

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Addendum: And then there’s the astoundingly arrogant Jeremiah Kittredge, CEO of Families For Excellent Schools, seen here doing his best to not answer questions (and distance himself from the much loathed Eva Moskowitz) even if he does admit (very, very testily) that, “I am not an educator.” Not being an educator, apparently, qualifies one to play savior to the “800,000” kids who are “failing” in the “education crisis” created by real educators. Kittredge’s non educator and non educated status is, however, evident in his occasionally mangled syntax and incoherent statements ( shared, it seems by all Families For Excellent Schools messiahs and adherents), as in when he declares the the entire New York school system ” steals possible.” On the other hand, given that Kittredge and his charter school confederates enjoy the luxury of making their own rules with impunity, perhaps the man is simply extending this principle to English grammar. Clearly, Kittredge is a man accustomed to giving orders and being obeyed and with that sense of regal entitlement shared by so many education messiahs, is transparently pissed that a guy as important as he, Jeremiah Kittredge, has to actually answer basic questions. Note that as Kittredge and his handler (“That’s a wrap.”) bolts, a reporter states plaintively: “You should probably wait and let the rest of us ask our questions.”

No chance of that.

At any rate, after viewing this clip ask yourself this question: would you buy a used car or anything under heaven from Jeremiah Kittredge ? These poor charter kids can have no idea how cynically they are being used and by they time they realize the hustle it will be too late for many.

http://bcove.me/nb7c1s41


The Education of Co-Location

March 1, 2015

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On Friday February 27, the United Federation of Teachers held another round of forums in communities across the city to speak out against the horrific proposals of Governor Andrew Cuomo on public education. One of Cuomo’s proposals is the creation of 100 new charter schools, institutions wildly favored and completely dominated by the super rich, who shower their favorite charter brands with their tax deductable largess and have created an extremely visible two tiered school system. The two tiered system is all the more visible (and to parents it is meant to be) in what have been called “co-locations, ” or public school buildings in which public schools and charter schools uneasily co-exist. No charter brand has received more 1% largess than Success Academy, the ever-expanding empire of Eva Moskowitz, which has a public relations budget in excess of a million dollars. Success Academy began in my school as Harlem Success Academy , and has been expanding both in my school and throughout the city ever since. As a teacher and chapter leader who has dealt with co-locating with Success Academy from day one, I was asked to speak briefly on the experience at the forum held at the Church of the Holy Trinity on E. 88th Street. In the words below I did so.
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On the Education of Co-Location

As we all know, education takes many forms. There is, for example, the education we receive in our homes and in our communities, where we learn how to comport ourselves, how to interact with others, and hopefully, what it means to be a decent person. Then there is the formal education we receive in our schools, where we learn to read and write, solve mathematical problems, gain knowledge of history and science and, above all, learn to think and discern, which provides us the tools to make sense of our lives and our reality.

In my experience of many years of co-locating with Success Academy at PS/MS 149,
I am forced to the appalling conclusion that, due to the extremely targeted and reckless largess of the super rich, largess that could never be matched by public funding, some co-locations can be said to provide yet another form of education, and a particularly cruel form at that.
The education is all the more powerful because the lessons are unspoken and must remain unspoken, or at least disguised, for this particular education to be allowed to continue in a nominally public institution in a nominally public system.
My students at PS/MS 149, like most kids sensitive and intelligent, learn daily and silently, without words, without language, that they are simply not as good as their co-located counterparts at Harlem Success. They learn daily and silently, without words, that some children are simply better and more deserving than others. Some children deserve the newest and brightest technology, as well as brand new carpeting, brand new books, fresh paint jobs; some children deserve what happens to be laying around or nothing at all. Some children deserve music programs; others can have theirs taken away and their instruments jammed into closets and forgotten. Some children deserve block rooms in which to explore and play and others deserve to be taught in stairwells and hallways like children of a lesser God.
Some children deserve fresh food delivered daily and wheeled through the hallways for all to see; others can dine on the considerably lesser fare of the DOE.

Indeed, if you are looking for a perverse negation of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, which outlawed the separate and unequal public schools of the Jim Crow South, you need look no further than the co-location of PS/MS 149 and Harlem Success Academy.

Each day I see the Success Academy students marching through the crowded hallways and stairwells of 149, passing students from my school, children from the same neighborhoods, displaying no recognition whatsoever of their common humanity. Each day my students watch as the ephemeral teachers of Success Academy snap their fingers and bark orders at their “scholars, “ all the while behaving as if my fellow teachers and myself, in effect their co-located colleagues, did not even exist.

These things too are an education, and you can rest assured that both groups of students are learning their respective if silent lessons which, if put to words, could be rendered simply: some people count and some do not.

There is something very powerful going on here and something very wrong. It is morally wrong. It is educationally wrong. It is civically wrong and it is spiritually wrong. Such cruel disparity and militant hubris has no place at all in a public school system, no place at all in a democratic society. Such education, however well disguised, has no place in our communities, our city and our nation.


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