Stop leeches bleeding public schools dry

From the November-December 2011 issue of News & Letters:

Stop leeches bleeding public schools dry

New York City—”The Trial Is On! The People of NYC are gathering to put the perpetrators of education crimes and human and civil rights violations against our children on trial—in our own People’s Court!” On Oct. 15, the Coalition for Public Education (www.for­publiced.org) took testimony from parents, teachers and school aides condemning Mayor Bloomberg’s edu­cation policies, which supplant quality public education with for-profit charter schools.

One teacher described the transformation of high schools as the surrounding neighborhoods become gen­trified. Brandeis High School was one of the first to educate Black and Latino immigrants in a full bilin­gual program. Prior to breaking it into smaller schools, access to the library and computers was discontinued. Experienced teachers and community-based parapro­fessionals were gone, along with knowledge of the his­tory of the struggle to provide relevant education. This kind of phase-out demoralizes the school community.

Now, the 25 police officers—in addition to School Security—who patrol the building are told, “Your job is not to be social workers, but to arrest students.” The new young principals and teachers cannot meet the special needs of these students who deserve a just, fair education. A mother, in tears, said, “My special-needs son struggles because of standardized testing…the stu­pid tests don’t prove anything about the quality of these kids.”

A laid-off teacher’s aide said that while programs like Teach for America pay young people to move to New York, live here and complete their training, there are no monies for paraprofessionals from the local com­munity to move into teaching positions.

State Assemblywoman Inez Barron spoke against mayoral control: “The mayor wants to use our students to get profits. Since when is Wall Street interested in educating Black and Latino kids? Since it became prof­itable.”

To support reform efforts, contact the Grassroots Education Movement at: http://gemnyc.org.

—Veteran teacher

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