Dear Regent Tisch,
I found your latest comments about expanding charter schools to be not only disgraceful but hypocritical.
Unlike you and your crowd, my sons did attend their local public schools and graduated with High School diplomas from their local, traditional PUBLIC schools. To my knowledge your own children never attended public schools. I do not believe you ever even worked in public education either. You are quoted in today's Daily News as stating your desire to "expand charter schools again", despite the fact that there are over 100 vacancies upstate and 28 remaining in NYC. Enough is enough!
I have watched the rich and powerful, like yourself, profit off of the destruction of public education for the past twenty years. This movement went into overdrive under the administration of your dear friend "Michael" and pal Joel Klein who I read in a NY Times article that you not only know but also share Passover supper and go on double dates with. How quaint, cozy and intimate, yet terribly sad for public education. I even remember a news article quoting you before Bloomberg's immoral overturning of term limits as saying "I absolutely support Mayoral Control as long as Michael is in charge". No sense of impropriety there at all! The private sector, hedge funds and billionaires all profited handsomely under these policies and our traditional public schools have suffered greatly as a result. Just look at the ARIS debacle and the 95 million dollars that were taken out of public education to pay for lawyers, data consultants, computer contracts, etc.. at the expense of classroom teachers and direct services to children. Your pal Joel is reported in yesterday's papers to have been paid to manage this project through his new employer Amplify under fellow billionaire Rupert Murdoch.
None of the unqualified folks that you consistently helped obtain waivers to run the system over the past dozen years (David Steiner, Cathy Black, Dennis Walcott, Harold Levy or Joel Klein) ever possessed the required certification to hold their positions. You seem to be running an affirmative action program for the rich and unqualified. You have used your position to allow patronage resulting in the rich and the friends of the rich to run roughshod over our schools for far too long. This is all too much. I have done some research , forgive me if any of my findings are inaccurate, but I believe that none of you sent your children to a public school nor ever worked in a public school (Joel's 6 month attempt to get out of the draft not included) yet you all declare yourselves experts in "Education Policy". That is akin to those armchair generals Washington is full of who are always sending our soldiers off to war. They want to work in Defense and Military "Policy" but have done everything possible to avoid ever having to pick up a weapon to defend their nation.
Bloomberg threw a hissy fit when the prior charter school cap was lifted only two years ago, as part of the State's Race to the Top Application. He was upset that there was a "Saturation Clause" placed in the legislation. Such a clause would have protected areas like my own in Bushwick-Williamsburg where Charters are out of control despite lack of demand. This is seen by our Community Education Council for what it is, a land grab! The C.E.C. has even passed resolutions calling for a moratorium on charter schools in our Community School District. The Saturation Clause was improperly removed and our community, like Harlem is now overrun with these unwanted entities. Charter schools were designed to be innovative lab sites, NOT the alternative school system that the rich want to see flourish in order to cut their tax bills due to the lack of job stability, unions and pension costs. If you want more charter schools open them in your own zip code. Our C.E.C. has said 'NO". You need to respect parent voice.
Why don't you call it a day? Step aside and let us have a new regent take over who has actually worked in and understands PUBLIC education (Dr. Lester Young, Dr. Betty Rosa or Dr. Kathleen Cashin are a few possibilities). Someone not rich, not from nor connected to the upper east side would be a breath of fresh air. The policies you and your friends have let loose upon our schools are destructive and wrong. The insane charter policies that you, the Governor and Dean Skelos push on NYC would never fly in the suburbs which is why there are over 100 charter spots open upstate. The cap in NYC still has not been reached but you and your rich friends are salivating over a chance to open even more. Shame on you. You were all for mayoral Control when your rich pal was in charge but now that a populist who actually sends his children to public schools is in charge you start putting roadblocks in his way. The people of NYC have spoken - loudly and clearly. They do not want any more micromanagement from your crowd. Let Mayor de Blasio do his job and stop trying to control him through the back door from Albany. Mayoral Control is a policy and though I personally disagree with it, it should not be implemented as "good for my friend Michael" and "bad if I don't like Mayor de Blasio's policies". Once again you show a hypocrisy in that you supported one policy for your pal and another for our new mayor.
I know you rarely, if ever, receive letters like this from educators currently employed in public education. That is only because of the fear that taking a stance against you and these wrong headed policies will result in professional retribution. I have seen enough and know what I am up against: you and your very powerful friends. That said, I must speak truth to power as I watch my community continue to be decimated by your
destructive agenda. I pray for a better day in PUBLIC education, free from the destructive policies of billionaire "philanthropists", do-gooders and policy wonks where communities and the mayor they elected are free to run their schools.
Brian De Vale
PARENT of PUBLIC SCHOOL GRADUATES
29 Year Veteran PUBLIC School Educator
P.S. 257 /
Council of Supervisors and Administrators
Community School District #14
60 Cook Street
Brooklyn, NY 11206