dressing down

Moskowitz: Union-political complex holding charter schools back

In her first appearance before the City Council committee that she used to chair, controversial charter school operator Eva Moskowitz today warned members of the council about the dangers of what she called the “union-political-educational complex.”

Moskowitz was referring to what she has said is interference by the teachers union in the Department of Education’s bid to close low-performing schools and replace them with charter schools. Her Harlem Success Network of charter schools was set to replace two zoned schools in Harlem, PS 194 and PS 241, but the DOE said last week it would keep those schools open because of a lawsuit filed by the United Federation of Teachers and others that alleges that the school swap is illegal. Moskowitz said today the lawsuit shows that “the union wants to shut down the the competition rather than compete on the merits of what it offers.”

But her former colleagues on the council’s education committee weren’t quick to accept Moskowitz’s rhetoric. Several of them took used her appearance as an opportunity to lecture her about the divisive tactics employed by Harlem Success and the parent organization it operates, Harlem Parents United. In a withering press release, the organizations last week called for the neighborhood schools to be shut down.

Elizabeth reported that a public hearing last month about using the PS 194 building to house a charter school was dominated by shouting and name-calling. Committee chairman Robert Jackson today said the hearing was “so volatile” that he feared it was more than the eight safety officers present could handle.

“Your arrogance about what the system should do and that charter schools are the answer is exactly what drives the conflict in the community,” said Maria del Carmen Arroyo of the Bronx.

Inez Dickens, whose council district includes PS 194, said about the conflict in her community, “It never appears to be so much so with Democracy Prep, Promise Academy, Harlem Village Academy. It always seems to be centered around Harlem Success.”

And Jackson lectured Moskowitz about the behavior of her schools’ parents at the recent public hearing. You can see Jackson’s complete rebuke in the video above.

Another contentious topic during Moskowitz’s appearance was how much her schools net in private donations each year. After Lew Fidler, a council member from Brooklyn, asked her to disclose how much she raises from private donors, Moskowitz said several times that she tries to land “25 cents on the dollar” for every dollar she receives in public funds but would not name a dollar amount.

“Having served with you for four years and knowing how on top of things you are, you run four different schools — you run them — you can’t tell me what your total private money raised is?” Fidler asked.

Moskowitz said that because her goal is to show that charter schools can compete with traditional public schools with the same funding, she stops raising money when she matches the funds given to other schools in Harlem.

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”

 

Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”

 

Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”

 

Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”

 

Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”

 

Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.