Bear with me here as I put into context the audacity, the hubris, the obfuscation I witnessed today of hacks representing Students First.
As many of you know, I am incarcerated at 4360 Broadway which happens to be PS 48 in Manhattan. Coming in this morning there were a phalanx of talking head media congregated outside the school yard at 8 AM this morning. Curious as to what was happening, I asked a camera man from Time Warner Cable News (The new name for NY1) to fill me in. He told me that the the two trailers for Kindergarten students were full of mold and the parents of the community had had enough.
Parents and community members were being interviewed through the morning by all the big stations of NYC. There even were a smattering of print journalists. Some of the trucks and reporters stayed throughout the morning to go live on their respective noon broadcasts. But it didn't end there.
I guess when news hits like this the cockroaches come out of the woodwork and feel that this is an opportunity not to miss an opportunity to take advantage of those that are day in and day out being taken advantage of by the DOE. An opportunity to put themselves front and center and wrap themselves up in the guise of altruism when all they think about is how can they get over and further their cause.
As I was leaving today and walking south on Broadway past the school yard I saw several women outside the gate with clipboards and having parents sign a piece of paper. At first I thought that this was a drive to register voters (Which I see quite often in the neighborhood) or having parents signing petitions to rid the school of trailers. I was wrong.
As I walked by I looked down on the clipboard and saw in bold capital letters, "STUDENTS FIRSTNY." I did a double take. What a coincidence that Students First will descend upon a school on the very same day it makes news. And who comes with Students First to rouse the parents, the contract mercenaries of the "grassroots" group, Families For Excellent Schools. In fact one woman, I could have sworn I had seen here on the FES page before, but I just could not prove it. But when I asked if they were with FES, all I heard is, "What is Families for Excellent Schools?"
What were they having the parents sign? It seems these four women were telling the parents that SFNY wished to start an after school program for the students at PS 48 and if they can sign and provide contact information. Those that are interested will be asked to attend a meeting of at a location and time to be known later and all paperwork as to this supposed "after school program" will be shared at that time.
Excuse me, but this seems as this is the way cults recruit their prey. Like the Moonies. Ooops! Sorry Michelle, politically incorrect pun intended.
I engaged in conversation with one of the ladies to whom I shall refer to as Laverne. I asked Laverne how one can determine a good teacher. Laverne was quite forthcoming with me.
"A good teacher is someone that knows when a student is struggling in class and will give that extra help to her. A good teacher is someone that will call home when it is necessary."
Quite informative Laverne!
I shared with Laverne and her friend the history of Students First and where and from whom finances Students First. They were shocked. I also asked them what would they think of Michelle Rhee if they heard that she has physically abused children in the past. For two ladies that had no idea what FES is they sure knew who Michelle is. But I digress. Laverne's friend said that it is impossible that Michelle would abuse children. I said, wrong, that it happened, that Rhee duct taped 1st graders mouths and made them bleed. I even showed her my blog post of 4 years ago. The friend still said it can't be true. I said yes it can and it is and Rhee so much as admitted it (Which should be here but it looks as if the Washington Post deleted it) but I found it here.
But her friend at least seemed open minded. Laverne still was buying the company line.
Laverne shared with me that unions protect teachers that sexually abuse students. I asked Laverne to give me an example. She told of Bronx Aerospace High School on Gun Hill Rd in the Bronx. She told me of a teacher at Bronx Aerospace that sexually abused a student, was found guilty of a felony in criminal court and was allowed back to teach in that school. When I asked her the name of the teacher she had no idea and suggested that I look on Inside Schools to find out.
Of course, it never happened. I gave Laverne another chance to name another incident. She couldn't. Just as she couldn't respond when gushing how Common Core™© is important to get children college and career ready she was unable to explain why a 8 year old must be college and career ready.
But this is how MichelleRheeFirst operates. Obfuscation and subterfuge. Even had a prominent parent of the school bought into the ruse and was directing other parents to sign the paperwork for the after school program. When it was explained to this parent what was really happening she felt horrible. I can't blame her. This is what Students First does. It preys on those not fully informed.
But why was Students First so easy to mobilize? Where was the UFT? Yeah, this was breaking news, but isn't there a rapid response information squad that can quickly come to schools such as PS 48 when they are in the news and show support for the community. Wouldn't this at the very least pull back a layer of distrust that communities have for teachers unions? Wouldn't making an appearance, passing out flyers, etc... show the UFT in solidarity with the community. Without a UFT presence today there was a vacuum that was all too easily filled by interlopers.
But the lack of a UFT presence is nothing compared to the abhorrent, callous, opportunistic, parasitic leaching onto the parents of Students First. At a time when the parents needed support to rid the school of 20 year old trailers Students First could have came and advocated for and with the parents on what was important to them today. The removal of the trailers. Instead, Students First decided to take advantage of parents, to scare parents, to lie, to deceive, and to act like a pal. Students First is nobody's pal. Their only pals are the monied interests of Wall St and Washington DC.
There must be a way to ensure that this will not happen again.