2011-07-08 / Columnists

School Scope

Did The School Year End?
By Norman Scott

Norman Scott Norman Scott The last day of school used to be one of the most joyous days of the year. No, let me be clear – it WAS the most joyous day of the year. This year I barely noticed – at least until 20 teachers and parent activists showed up at my house a few days later for an end of school year party. Wish they had told me. Some of them may not leave until Labor Day. It was an interesting mix of old and young people connected with the Grassroots Education Movement. Many GEMers couldn’t attend because they had already headed to Chicago for a variety of conventions so the neighborhood was not threatened by the infusion of militant education activism. Watch out next year. Better sell now before we totally drive down property values.

Well, I too am off to Chicago for the “National Conference to Fight Back for Public Education” where progressive leaders of various teacher unions (nix the UFT/AFT) will gather along with plebes like me to figure stuff out. And if we don’t manage that, to eat, drink and be merry.

The blurb from the website says: “Speak, learn and share with educators on the front lines in New York, LA, Chicago, Wisconsin, Oakland, Ohio, Indiana and beyond. Plan and organize to promote our vision of an equitable and just education system, for unions that fight for and with our communities, and help build a national grassroots strategy to defend public schools.”

One of the fun events planned is some action at a bank to pin the blame for the financial crisis where it belongs – no, not teacher perks for those not reading this column. This ain’t Wisconsin. Or New Jersey. Yet.

Speaking of which, I was one of those – as you might well expect – who opposed the recent budget settlement to prevent 4000 layoffs. I never believed it would happen. From what I am hearing a lot more people are leaving but not telling. But no matter what, the schools have lost 10,000 people in the last few years while the mayor continues to brag how well things are going. I expect the improvement will truly be spectacular in the mayor’s eyes when there are no teachers left and only machines. Skynet, here we come. Where’s Arnold the Terminator when the mayor needs him to squash those rebellions like Bloombergville that I wrote about in my last column? I guess Arnold is busy twixting Anthony’s Weiner.

In late July, many educators and supporters from around the nation will converge on Washington for the Save Our Schools (SOS) march on July 30 to oppose the corporate ed deform agenda. College Professor David Greene has written a magnificent piece titled “Why I Ain’t Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore” (with apologies to Phil Ochs – who as many know committed suicide in Rockaway in 1976). I posted Greene’s piece on my blog in the June 29 entry. Check out SOS at http://www.saveourschoolsmarch.org.

For those going, our GEM produced movie, “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman” will be shown at two locations at American University on the evening of July 29. Cities doing their own SOS locally will also be showing the film that weekend. So far Vegas, Tucson and some others have announced showings. Sacramento and San Francisco are on this week.

I’ll report on SOS in more depth if I do a column before the march. Middle school initiative being voted on July 11, 2011 by CEC 27

I don’t know enough about this issue but I do support strong neighborhood schools run by people who live and teach at these schools as an opposition to placing total control in the hands of one person, especially a megalomaniac like a well-known mayor. I received an email from Thomas Ayrovainen, a concerned parent:

The District 27 Community Education Council claims they want to create equity and standardization in the middle school enrollment process. They want the system to be transparent as well as reflecting preferences of parents and students. CEC claims a student driven process should increase competitiveness among schools resulting in increasing the number of high-performing schools and promoting higher levels of student achievement. The statement sounds good but there is no explanation of how a change in the system will translate into higher performing schools or how this will impact PS/MS114 which is already a high performing school.

Two choices are being voted on, choice plan A and choice plan B.

Plan A states using the current selection criteria for schools – most are student preference-driven with a random selection process if more applicants than offers are available. Will this plan result in an influx of applications to PS/MS 114 causing a lottery process to select students? CEC claims a negative to plan A is that some schools may become filled with zoned students who have priority. This might limit the number of out of zone admissions. It is not clear to me why students attending their zoned schools is a negative? We should all go to our zoned schools, and if there is a problem with the zoned schools in a particular neighborhood the solution should be to fix those schools.

Plan B aims to eliminate zoned schools entirely. Each student would get one offer and student preference becomes the key driver for admissions, with a random selection process if there are more applicants than offers available.

We are willing to pay the taxes we do and because of the local public school. If that changes how will that impact this neighborhood?


Thomas Ayrovainen

Here is the meeting information:

Meeting date: Monday July 11, 2011 District 27, 82-01 Rockaway Boulevard, Ozone Park, NY 11416, room 201C.

I guess this is officially the last column of the school year. Enjoy the vacation.

Norm blogs at ednotesonline.blogsp.

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