Posts Tagged ‘Bill de Blasio’

A NYC Teacher Speaks of His Sabotaged School

January 31, 2017

The following is the transcript of an address given by NYC Public School teacher Jim Donohue on what has happened and is happening to his school:

Hello. My name is Jim Donohue.

I’d like to start by thanking you for allowing me a few minutes to speak tonight, and I’d also like to thank Carol Harrison and Mary Atkinson from the Bronx chapter for their support in what has been a very difficult couple of weeks.

I’m an English teacher at JHS 145, where I’ve worked for the past 17 years. JHS 145 is a renewal school, and we were told (through a leak to the New York Times) that a proposal has been made to close the school at the end of the school year.

I want to share a quote with you because it precisely defines the situation my colleagues, my students, and our school community find ourselves in today. It reads as follows:

“For the past 12 years, New York City’s ‘answer’ for struggling schools was simple: warehouse our neediest students, starve the schools of support, and then close their schools if they didn’t miraculously turn around. “

As you may have guessed, that was spoken by Mr. Michael Mulgrew back in 2014 in response to Mayor de Blasio’s announcement of the Renewal school plan.

Mr. Mulgrew used the term “warehouse our neediest students.” Well, I’ve come to you tonight directly from the warehouse. How else to describe a school whose students come NOT FROM ONE OR TWO zoned elementary schools in their district, but from 94 different schools located in EVERY BOROUGH of NYC? How else to describe a school with 140 students who arrived at its doors DIRECTLY from the Dominican Republic? How else to describe a school with 53 (20% of its population) shelter students, another 50 classified as Special Needs students, and another 20 with Interrupted Formal Education? We’ve done some research. NO OTHER MIDDLE SCHOOL IN THE BRONX has demographics to match this.

Mr. Mulgrew used the term “starve the school of resources”. Well, I come to you from a place of terrible starvation. How else to describe a situation in which 140 out of 298 students are English Language Learners but had NO ESL teacher for the entire 2014/2015 school year, and only 1 this year. How else to describe a situation in which 60% of a school’s population are English Language Learners, but have NO Bilingual math teacher, NO bilingual science teacher, NO bilingual English teacher and No Bilingual Social Studies teacher? How else to describe the following absurdity: One year into the renewal program, a program that promised ADDITIONAL RESOURCES to schools like ours, the DOE allowed the Success Academy to take 18 of our classrooms, which scattered our staff and students across 3 floors of a building occupied by 4 different schools, and forced us to dismantle our computer lab in order to convert it into classroom space?

Mr. Mulgrew mentioned the closing of schools, which brings me to my true purpose tonight. After attempting to systematically starve JHS 145 to death, the DOE now calls for the school to be closed. And I say “ATTEMPTING TO STARVE TO DEATH” because we are far from dead. Despite DOE claims that our students “FAIL” the state ELA and MATH assessments, we have data that shows otherwise.

Our students come to us reading at levels between Kindergarten and 4th grade. Do they miraculously (another term used by Mr. Mulgrew) achieve grade level scores on these tests at 145? No, they do not. What they do is move, consistently, from Kindergarten levels to 2nd grade, from 2nd to 3rd or 4th, from 3rd to 5th or 6th and so on.

Despite years of neglect, our students have won the Thurgood Marshall Junior Mock Trial Competition 8 times, more than any other school in the citywide tournament.

Our students have won the BronxWRITeS Poetry Slam more than any other school in the city, recently sharing the stage with Mayor De Blasio and Ambassador Caroline Kennedy in an exhibition at Goldman Sachs.

The DOE’s 2014-2015 School Quality Snapshot tells us that “86% of this school’s former 8th graders earned enough high-school credit in 9th grade to be on track for graduation,” a number that is nearly identical to the citywide average of 87% and better than the district average of 81%.

Our kids are some of the most vulnerable in the city, living in the poorest congressional district in the country, but they are smart and capable and worthy of respect. They are not failures.

Finally, I want to use a term that Mr. Mulgrew didn’t use. That term is DIRTY POOL. Because a full 3 weeks before the DOE’s closure proposal even becomes official, and 2 months before the PEP vote takes place, and despite the DOE’s claim that the closing has NOTHING to do with the charter school, Success Academy’s website has begun advertising for applicants to its new middle school, opening in 2017, at JHS 145. In recent weeks, Success Academy staff members have been measuring our classrooms, apparently 100% confident that the PEP will rubberstamp our demise in March.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m here to ask you for 4 things:
We ask that the UFT publicly demand that the proposal for the closing of JHS 145 be pulled from the PEP agenda.
We ask that the UFT utilize its resources in the form of media, social media, twitter, etc. speak out against this proposal.
We ask the UFT to help us move the PEP from Manhattan to the school so that the community can attend, and if that proves impossible, to supply a bus for community members to travel to the PEP.
Finally, and perhaps mosti importantly, we ask that Mr. Mulgrew come to our school to witness or participate in the student march to the District Office that we are scheduling for next week.
Thank you.

Please Contact
Jim Donohue 917-318-8762
Craig Moss 914-319-1227
Deidre Walker 347-869-4810

The Fate of A Gesture: NYPD Turn their Backs on de Blasio at Funeral

December 27, 2014

Like millions of people who were horrified at the murder of NYPD officers Wenjin Liu and Rafael Ramos last Saturday, I watched and read of the funeral of the latter which took place this afternoon in Queens. Among what I read was that members of the NYPD, in the hundreds and maybe more, turned their backs on Mayor Bill de Balsio as he eulogized Ramos.

In an event built on symbolic gestures – the posthumous promotion of Ramos to detective, the presence of both the Governor of New York and the Vice President of the United States, a funeral that, with all respect to the police, was more fitting for a head of state than a murdered cop — in all of this, no symbolic gesture will have greater resonance for the people of New York than the sight of hundreds of cops outside of the church turning their backs on the image of Mayor Bill De Blaiso. As both a New Yorker and a person with three family members who are or were NYPD, I felt a sense of both shame and disgust when I read this. And also a chill.

The gesture was many things: shocking, arrogant and petulant, to be sure, but it was above all, dangerous. And the danger is not merely to the political future of Bill de Blasio. “When an assassin’s bullet targeted two officers, it targeted this city, “ said Joe Biden. Like the bullets fired at the cops, the gesture is equally targeted at all of us.

It is almost impossible to imagine that the grossly disrespectful act was done without at least the tacit approval of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton. If this proves to be the case, de Blasio should fire Bratton as soon as possible and replace him with a person who respects the political process and is in possession of at least some sense of decorum and decency. This, after all, was a funeral and not the place for politicking. If Bratton did not give his okay, then he needs to rein his people in immediately and remind them that they work for the people of the city of New York.

Like every one else, police have every right to express their dislike or even disgust at Bill de Blasio. Unlike everyone else, they have sworn to protect and serve the people and they have an obligation to respect the chain of command which, in this case, ends with Bill de Blasio.
Question: Can a police force that turns its back on the mayor of a city be trusted to protect the citizens of that city? Make no mistake about what happened today. This was not merely a gesture meant to help in the political destruction of Bill de Blasio. It was also meant to show every New Yorker that the NYPD feels immune to criticism and, to some extent, is its own law.

The rhetoric of PBA President Patrick Lynch – that de Blasio and others have had blood on their hands for the horrific murder of the two cops by a psychotic from Baltimore — has been nothing short of hysterical and should be treated as such by both the cops he ostensibly represents and the public those cops ostensibly serve. But, as hysteria is easier to digest than thought, this is not, by and by, what has happened, and today’s gesture was meant to drive the hysteria home in the most emotionally charged way possible.

With the exception of his foolish legitimization of the execrable
Al Sharpton, ( admittedly an enormous error) I find nothing objectionable and much that is commendable in de Blasio’s handling of the Eric Garner affair. There is a reason that, after the non–indictment of Officer Daniel Pantaleo, New York did not descend into the chaos and brutality of Ferguson and it’s militarized police.
Like him or not, that reason is Bill de Blasio.
Today, the NYPD chose to politicize murder and to do so at what is meant to be a sacred ritual, perhaps the most sacred of rituals. I see no way in which anything good can come of what happened today, not for cops and not for New Yorkers. I can easily see, however, how another Giuliani ( or worse than a Giuliani ) may rise from the feelings that propelled the cops gesture.
Rest assured, reactionaries across the land are plotting away.

Nothing Is Sacred: Capitalizing on Horror is the American Way

December 24, 2014

"Former NYPD" Don Bongino

“Former NYPD” Don Bongino

In America nothing is sacred. Even before the bodies of the dead policemen Wenjin Liu and Rafael Ramos were cold, politicians seeking a soundbite, former politicians seeking the spot light and would be politicians seeking to jump start their careers ,were suddenly all over the place spewing venom and idiocy to all who would listen or could read as to the real reason why two human beings, ambushed in their patrol car in Brooklyn in a period of extreme racial tension, lay dead.

They did not lay dead because a psychotic from Baltimore, who earlier in the day had threatened suicide and then shot his girlfriend, shot them at point blank range.
They lay dead because of Mayor Bill de Blasio.
They lay dead because of protestors.
Somehow, the acts of de Blasio and thousands of others led the killer to act.
This, at any rate, has been the line echoed back and forth across the country since hour one.

George Pataki, who rode the death penalty into the governors mansion and is rumored to be pursuing yet another pathetic run at the presidency, and Rudy Giuliani, who recently disgraced himself by claiming that teacher unions were somehow responsible for the death of Eric Garner, were particularly quick to get in on the act. But they were hardly alone. The rhetoric of Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, with his talk of “bloody hands” and a” wartime’ police department” has been simultaneously ghoulish and fascistic and horrifying.

Under the pretense of honoring the dead, or defending the honor of the police, or saving Western civilization or something like that, the spigot of insane abuse aimed primarily at Mayor Bill de Blasio but including anyone who dared protest the death
of black men at the hands of police, turned into a torrent in no time at all. And it has been going strong for days now, bringing employment to the endless array of Right wing talking heads of Fox News and sickly joy and “talking points” to their millions of viewers.

One of the more egregious of these talking heads, one Dan Bongino, is a man who knows an opportunity when he sees one. Bongino, who called for de Blasio to “resign in shame”, has been particularly revealing. Bongino who was billed as “former NYPD,” spent four years as a cop 15 years ago, has lived in suburban Maryland for years and is currently seeking to be a Republican congressmen in Maryland’s 6th congressional district. Bongino, in short, is a carpet bagging scumbag shamelessly seeking to capitalize on the horrific deaths of the two cops for political gain at the same time he is pretending to be a heartbroken colleague. There was, of course, not a hint of what Bongino, a kind of Right wing mini-version of the despicable Al Sharpton, has been doing the past fifteen years or why he was babbling away in New York in the extended interview Fox allowed the hustling would be politician.

What there was a river of was crazy and ignorant talk of de Blasio, a man, according to Bongino,
“ who believes in the advancement and trading of chaos, believes in the destruction of American institutions” and “subscribes to an ideology that is so un-American…”
English is my native tongue but I confess to utter bafflement over what the words “believes in the advancement and trading of chaos” actually mean, but I do understand that whatever it means, it is not good.
Insinuating that he is still a member of the NYPD and not a resident of suburban Maryland, Bongino reveals the true source of his rage: de Blasio had the temerity to do what no New York mayor has done in 20 years. He reigned in the NYPD. He had them stand down. He allowed New Yorkers to exercise their right to protest without fear and intimidation from the force that is ostensibly there to protect that right.

“Bongino continued, “I have a number of friends I went through the police academy with almost 19 years ago that call me and text me all the time and said that during these protests, ‘yes, we absolutely respect the right to peacefully protest. No question.’ They were told basically to stand down, let them blow off steam, despite the fact, Charles, that there were people out there who were never interested in peaceful protests. They were interested in spitting in police officers’ faces, pushing these people.”

Bongino is correct when he states that there were people out there who were never interested in peaceful protests, “ people “interested in spitting in police officers’ faces, “ as there are such people in any immense crowds of protestors. Some of these people, as was their right, chanted ugly and idiotic things as they marched. I heard them. But so what? That too is their right. A handful even managed to get themselves pointlessly arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge hours after the march began where they allegedly tangled with a group of cops, one of whom had his nose busted. Collectively, I would reckon they constituted perhaps 1% of 1% of the thousands and thousands who marched in dignified protest.
“Former NYPD” Bongino seems to shamelessly suggest that somehow these miniscule numbers and this foolish gesture somehow equals an out right attack on the NYPD and therefore justifies a return to the Giuliani/ Bloomberg days of non stop thuggish police intimidation and worse. Somehow, Bongino, like virtually all of the commentary ( if that is not too lofty a word ) that I’ve read or heard fails to meant the simple fact that the protests were against the very kind of thinking these very commentators were espousing.

It is sickening to encounter this kind of thought but necessary to do so. It reveals part of the sickness underming the political and spiritual health ( which are always linked ) of the country as I write. It bespeaks of the totalitarian nature of the Right, in which a man like de Blasio, hardly a progressive in any meaningful sense of the word, is seen not merely as a threat but as a kind of un American alien who must be utterly destroyed. Destroyed before he somehow kills again.

The argument that, in some way, de Blasio himself or the protesters en masse were responsible for the murderous act of a mentally ill man is, for any self respecting person, well beyond absurd and well into the realm of the obscene. But then again, so is capitalizing on the shocking murders of two cops. Yet, this is exactly what America has been steadily fed since the horror story broke on Saturday and we can expect as much of the same sick stuff as can possibly be squeezed out of the horrible incident.

In America, nothing is sacred. And in a culture where nothing is sacred, in the negative sense of the phrase, anything is possible.

Addendum: Herein more examples of the reckless, irresponsible and opportunistic nonsense spreading around the country including some choice idiocy from former NYPD Commissioner and convicted felon Bernie Kerick, hoping it seems, to ride this tragedy back into something approximating respectability or at least a steady gig on Fox News.

Beyond the Pale: Blaming de Blasio for Murdered Cops

December 20, 2014

de blasio

A violent lunatic arrives in a tensed out NYC from Baltimore after allegedly shooting his girlfriend. After instagraming ugly stuff about giving “pigs wings “ and “taking two for every one” he shoots dead two random officers of the NYPD in cold blood while they sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn, purportedly as revenge for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown at the hands of police. He then turns the same gun on himself.

Officers Wenjin Liu (left) and Rafael Ramos (right)  Rest in peace.

Officers Wenjin Liu (left) and Rafael Ramos (right)
Rest in peace.

Representatives of the NYPD and former governor George Pataki, among others, immediately use the grotesque act to politic, going as far as blaming Mayor Bill de Blasio for the murders.

Consider these chilling words from the Police Benevolent Association: “The mayor’s hands are literally dripping with our blood because of his words, actions and policies and we have, for the first time in a number of years, become a ‘wartime’ police department. We will act accordingly.”

Or this reckless idiocy tweeted by Former New York Governor George E. Pataki who somehow blamed de Blasio and United States Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. for the shootings of the officers.
“Sickened by these barbaric acts,” Mr. Pataki wrote on Twitter, “which sadly are a predictable outcome of divisive anti-cop rhetoric of #ericholder & #mayordiblasio.”

Meanwhile, The Daily Mail of London reports that members of the NYPD turn their backs on de Blasio when he arrives at Woodhull Hospital, to which the dead officers were taken.

Mayor de Blasio, to be sure, has made his fair share of mistakes dealing with the legacy of police violence and racism in NYC, the largest being teaming up with the despicable charlatan “Rev.”Al Sharpton. Many, it seems, will never forgive him for that.

I understand their thinking but I also know that despite Sharpton, de Blasio has brought a civility and respect for citizens and protest that I haven’t seen in this city since before the twenty-year reign of Giuliani and Bloomberg. I saw it at the spontaneous gathering at Foley Square on the night of the non-indictment of Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner. I saw it that much the more at Saturday’s massive march from Washington Square demanding justice for Garner and an end to police brutality and racism. No barriers fencing you in like a beast. No armies of cops staring you down. No giant nets ready to arrest anyone and everyone who happened to be there exercising their right to protest. No cops on horses whose sole purpose was to intimidate you into silence.

None of the things, that is, that had become standard operating procedure for every protest of the past two decades, decades in which the Constitution and Bill of Rights has been trashed repeatedly in pursuit of terrorists and Empire.

This is no small thing.

I can only think that such changes were due directly to the orders of Mayor de Blasio for which, on this in any case, he need be credited and supported. I can only think further that he will need that support that much the more now as people are already shamelessly using the horrific murders of these two blameless cops not merely to destroy de Blasio but to make the aforementioned standard operating procedures a permanent feature of American life.

What is Meryl Tisch Really Saying Here ?

November 17, 2014

In a move that is disturbingly reminiscent of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s undermining of Mayor Bill de Blasio ‘s legal mandate to run the New York City Public School System, New York Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch yesterday vowed to shut down the very 94 struggling city schools that di Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina recently announced he would spend the next three years trying to help.

As it happens, I work in one of those schools.

Tisch, in short, seems to be saying that the state will do what it will, regardless of the plans of Mayor Bill di Blasio or the will of the people who voted him into office. In fact, like Cuomo’s reckless giveaway to charter schools, Tisch’s words seem calculated to humiliate de Blasio and to crush the political will of the city with the power of the state.

That and, of course, demonize teachers while praising the miracle of charter schools.

“If we do not see movement with these lowest-performing schools in terms of their ability to retool their workforces by the spring, we will move to close them,” Tisch told John Catsimatidis on his AM 970 radio show.”

“Retool their workforces” is apparently a euphemism for
“firing a bunch of teachers,” the mindless reform solution to all problems of education.

But, of course, you cannot retool without “leverage” — which might be translated as abrogation of due process.
“The main issue, according to Tisch, is that the principals need leverage to fire educators if they don’t meet standards.
“It’s not just saying, ‘We’re gonna fix these schools,’” she said. “You gotta give the new principals and assistant principals the ability to hire the teachers that they want and fire the teachers that they don’t want.”

What “new principals and assistant principals” is Tisch, an unelected billionaire with almost no educational experience speaking about, I wonder. Is there a mass bloodletting of administrators in the works?

And I wonder, too, what is really going on here in this strange turn of events in which a couple of weeks after di Blasio and Carmen Farina announce a plan to save struggling schools that, although far from perfect, is in many ways a radical departure from the rank idiocy of the Bloomberg years, Meryl Tisch is announcing to the world her intention of shutting the same schools down.

Sadly, and revealingly neither de Blasio nor Farina felt the need to defend their own program.

“The mayor’s office didn’t respond to request for comment, referring questions to the city’s Department of Education.
“As Chancellor Tisch said, Chancellor Fariña is committed to doing what is best for children — and this means all options are on the table to turnaround these historically struggling schools,” a spokeswoman for the DOE said.”

What I do know is this: These relentless attacks are exhausting and debilitating and are the exact opposite of what one would be doing if one had any intention whatsoever of allowing a flourishing school system. I know this too: when the power of a state is allowed to crush the political will of a city we have moved even further into a horrifying new American darkness.