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Friday, July 26, 2013

A Teachable Moment

Here's a great post from our friends at PS 191:

A Priceless Lesson

by NoRedvelopmentMMS
I have been telling this great story since June and today as I told it, I realized that this is why we teach...It wasn't something that was part of Common Core, you can't test for it, but we (not just me - but other teachers as well) taught one child a priceless lesson.  We can't put a value or grade on it because the potential of it is limitless....
When our school was recently offered up to developers.  We fought back.  Our school community joined together.  We joined a neighborhood coalition.  We got community volunteers.  We had a march, a rally, and participated in an educational forum.  We had students, parents, teachers, alumni, community members and politicians join us.  The next day we found out we won!  Our school will stand!
About two days later at dismissal a small child walked up to me, I think a Kindergartener.  She pulled on my shirt and when I looked down at her she said, "I helped save the school."  I told her she did and she walked away with the biggest smile.  I am not sure what exactly she has taken away with her, I do know that was the best lesson I never planned for.

Monday, July 1, 2013

DNAinfo Reports on Efforts to Stop the DOE proposal for CTE

DNAinfo reports on the protest that took place outside the High School for Cooperative Technology on Friday.

Politicians, students and teachers are calling for the Department of Education to drop plans to redevelop the School of Cooperative Technical Education on 96th Street between First and Second avenues because they say no one affected by the proposal was consulted.
Read the full article here.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Elected Officials Come Our Against the ECF Proposal for CTE

The following elected officials wrote a letter to Chancellor Walcott and the heads of the ECF and SCA questioning the plans for the High School of Cooperative Technology:

Scott M. Stringer, Manhattan Borough President
Charles B. Rangel, Member of Congress, 13th District
Jose M. Serrano,  Senator, 29th District
Robert J. Rodriguez, Assemblymember, 68th District
Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member, District 8

The letter begins:

Dear Chancellor Walcott, Ms. Maldonado and Ms. Grillo:

We write to express our deep concern about a proposal currently under review by the Department
of Education (DOE), the Educational Construction Fund (ECF) and the School Construction
Authority (SCA), to redevelop the parcel of city-owned land occupied by the School of
Cooperative Technical Education (SCTE) at 321 East 96th Street. We urge you to immediately
halt this proposal, until such time as the DOE can constructively engage in a comprehensive
conversation with the local impacted community about impending redevelopment plans.

As you know, the School of Cooperative Technical Education is a District 79 school that has
spent more than a decade addressing the academic needs of over-age, under-credited youth from
across the five boroughs. The DOE and ECF’s redevelopment plans for the SCTE site, which
include demolition of the building, will very likely cause serious disruption in the academic lives
of some 2,000 students from across the five boroughs, including those with autism and other
special needs. Relocating SCTE’s students puts these youth at significant risk of discontinuing
and/or dropping out of school – a near-guarantee for poor long-term outcomes. How the DOE
intends to address these concerns is a matter of utmost importance.

The reality is that —whatever the pros and cons of this project may be – no one has been
provided the information necessary to make an informed judgment about the project, because the
DOE and ECF’s process of engaging the local community has been thoroughly inadequate and
lacking in transparency. As a result, students, families and teachers have been left largely in the
dark about the potential impact of any redevelopment proposal on their school and community.

Read the full letter here.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Protests are Starting Against the DOE Proposal for the East Side School

From yesterday's Daily News:

Uptown parents, students and politicians are calling on the city to halt an under-the-radar proposal for private developers to knock out a school for luxury apartments. 
The Department of Education quietly floated the proposal earlier this year to demolish East Harlem’s High School of Cooperative Technical Education along with two upper West Side schools, to make room for high-rise apartment buildings that would house new schools underneath. 
The upper West Side locations averted demolition, but the city is still shopping the E. 96th St. vocational school to developers. 
Co-Op Tech students, parents and educators said they will demonstrate in front of the East Harlem school on Friday morning, joined byBorough President Scott Stringer, to call on the city to halt the project.

Read more:

Demonstrations will begin today at the High School of CTE outside the school on E. 96th between 1st and 2nd Ave at 10:30.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tax Breaks for the Wealthy = Less for Education

Michael Powell reports in the NY Times today how residential buildings that are not normally eligible for tax abatements get them.  The owner of a  $90 million apartment gets a tax break while education goes underfunded.
The latest evidence that our developers scour sidewalks for pennies might be found at the 90-story ziggurat known as One57, with his-and-her bathrooms, super deep freeze, titanium-reinforced views that reach to the Arctic, or at least Putnam County. The Extell Development Company recently sold a 14,000-square-foot penthouse (but does it have enough closets?) to a hedge-fund billionaire for $90 million. Bargain flats are still to be found at $18 million.

Read the full story here.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Discuss Land Use Issues (like PS 199) with City Council Candidates June 27th

Read the New York Times article on real estate influence in the race.

CB7 Meeting with E3 Charter Middle School Presentation and Beacon Building Working Group Update

Info on the Proposed E3 Charter Middle School and Beacon Working Group 
At CB7's Youth, Education & Libraries Committee
Thursday, June 20th 6:30
250 West 87th Street

Tatiana Hoover and Claire Lowenstein will present on their proposal to establish the E3 Charter Middle School in District 3.  You can learn more about this proposed charter in a recent
DNAinfo article.  According to the article, the school is evaluating space on West 64th and 61st streets.  

The meeting will also include updates and ongoing issues regarding the Beacon Building Working Group. Now that Beacon need not be utilized as a temporary space for a building demolition, the UWS can concentrate on its use for a district 3 public middle and/ or high school.

more info...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

JCC City Council Candidate Forum on Education

If you were not able to attend last nights forum, you can listen to it here:

Brooklyn's Pacific Branch Library - Saved!

Congratulations to Citizens Defending Libraries on saving the beautiful Beaux-Arts library.  Many of our libraries, like our schools, are under threat.  CDL is doing a heroic job of raising awareness and defending public libraries throughout the city.

You can read the New York Times article here.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Thank You for This Great Victory

Hi All -

I want to personally thank all of you who stepped up to help in various ways.  I won't name you but you know who you are:  the folks who sometimes braved insults handing out flyers,  the folks who collected petition signatures, those of you who drummed up support from neighborhoods and friends, those who attended community meetings,  those who participated in the Lincoln Square Community Coalition, those who spoke up at building board meetings and lobby meetings and especially those who stood  up to challenge the "wait and see" approach of the P.S. 199 PTA.  

I will mention some people by name:

Roberta Semer who lives in Lincoln Towers, called the first meeting with elected officials in early March, got the ball rolling for us as a community, had the idea for LSCC and has worked with me every step of the way.

Melanie Brazil who stepped up to rally those parents at P.S. 199 who wanted to save their school and wanted to speak up now.

Stacie Loraine and Susannah Blum who organized the P.S. 191 community.  They were amazing and passionate, and the P.S. 191 community was critical in getting the DOE to recognize that the UWS was united in opposition.

I also want to mention how supportive City Council Member Gale Brewer and State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal have been.

Gale pushed the DOE to tell us what their plans were going to be, asked for more transparency and public review, and pushed them to make a decision before the end of the school year.  She has also been pushing for P.S. 199 landmark status, has attended our meetings and spoken strongly and publicly against the ECF proposal.

Linda has been one of our strongest advocates, writing letters and introducing legislation - which we will continue to fight for - to prevent this type of proposal without public review happening again.  Linda made her staff available to us, they helped us strategize and plan our march, rally and last week's amazing forum.  They did robo calls (first one I ever liked!), handed out flyers and really got the word out about the forum.

I also want to acknowledge that Laurie Frey and Noah Gotbaum of CEC3 were particularly strong supporters as was Mel Wymore of Community Board 7.

Also, Batya Lewton and The Coalition for a Livable West SIde, The United Federation of Teachers, Olive Freud who made sure that the issue was raised at all her candidate events and anyone else whom I forgot!

A very big thank you to all of you.

This is real proof that a community can come together, speak up and affect change. 

Best Regards,
David Saphier and the team.