Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Public Officials Break with Bloomberg on Mayoral Control for March 1 PEP

For Immediate Release:                                                                      Contact:
Wednesday February 29th, 2012                                                         Luis Garden Acosta

Public Officials and Major Civic Leaders Break with the Bloomberg Version of Mayoral Control
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Councilwoman Diana Reyna and a host of other public officials and high profile leaders will take the unprecedented step of breaking with the Bloomberg administration control of the public school system. A press conference is scheduled for tomorrow, March 1st, 2012 at 5:00 p.m., Brooklyn Tech High School, 29 Fort Greene Place, Brooklyn NY, (set up at S. Elliot Street and DeKalb Avenue) prior to the Panel on Education Policy (PEP) public meeting at Brooklyn Tech High School at 6:00 p.m.
Coming on the heels of a disturbing meeting with public school Chancellor Dennis Walcott, public officials as well as church and community leaders will charge the Chancellor with “Academic Malfeasance” and call for an end to the PEP process that they decry as the antithesis of good government practice.
Church and community leaders of the Southside Community Schools Coalition* will be present to denounce the Bloomberg administration handling of schools as irresponsible, lacking integrity and a failure for District 14 (Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bedford-Stuyvesant) public schools in general, and Williamsburg Southside schools, in particular. 
High school students from at least four high schools will rally across the street against the “closed back room dealings” of corporate driven charter networks that do not emanate from the communities they propose to serve, are not accountable to those communities and who are backed by the Mayor’s autocratic rule in the use and abuse of public school space.
*Southside Community Schools Coalition (SCSC) partial listing:
Brooklyn Legal Services Corp., Churches United For Fair Housing, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez,  Councilmember Diana Reyna,  District 14 Community Education Council, El Puente, First Spanish Presbyterian  Church, The Make School Planning Collaborative,  Los Sures (the Southside) United HDFC, Nuestros Niños Child Development Centers, Occupy Williamsburg, Parents of P.S. 19, Parents of P.S. 84 Dual Language Program, Parents, Teachers and Staff of M.S. 50, Progress Inc.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Emergency PTA Meeting

A Successful Satellite:
Our response to the ROADS II charter school

Schomburg Satellite Academy
Thursday, March 1 @ 5:00 p.m.
Be there!!!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

ROADS Charter School:
The plans are hidden, but the consequences are pefectly clear.

On February 2, 2012, the DOE quietly posted plans on its website for a new charter school, ROADS II, slated for co-location in the Bronx Regional high school building. The school is scheduled to open in September of 2012.

As of today, parents and students still have not been notified of the proposed changes, despite a critical Joint Public Hearing on the school scheduled just two weeks away.

Why has the DOE kept this charter school under wraps from the community? What will its impact be on students at the existing schools? And why is it facing nearly unanimous opposition from those who know about it?

FACT: The DOE claims that the ROADS II school will have “no educational impact” on existing public school students, despite the fact that the charter school will take over 1/3 of the classrooms in two of the existing schools schools by 2015.

FACT: The charter school will reduce the current students’ access to the computer labs, the science labs, gym classes, the library, and all other shared school facilities.

FACT: Last year, one of the public schools in the building, Schomburg Satellite Academy, developed an entirely new schedule based on best practices for the transfer school population. Attendance this year has increased by 5%, ELA Regents scores have increased by 30%, and Science and Social Studies scores have increased by 30% under the new schedule. Adding a new charter school to the building will render this cutting-edge schedule impossible.

FACT: New York Education Law Section 2852 states that charter schools must "locate charter schools in a region or regions where there may be a lack of alternatives and access to charter schools would provide new alternatives within the local public education system."
The proposed ROADS school and the exiting public schools (Bronx Regional and Satellite Academy) both serve over-aged, under-credited students though a competency-based program that culminates in a special capstone project. The charter school and the public schools would serve the same population through very similar programs. In this respect, ROADS II may violated New York state law.
(See page 5 of the linked PDF's for details on the mission of Bronx Regional and Satellite Academy.)

FACT: There are currently three programs in the building. The two District 12 high schools in the building are losing classrooms to ROADS charter school. The one District 79 school in the building will not lose any classrooms. The Executive Director of District 79, Sarah Sandelius, is an adviser to the ROADS board.

FACT: The ROADS charter schools are backed by Centerbridge Partners, a private equity investment firm located on Park Avenue.

FACT: Under the proposed plan, the ROADS II charter school will be allowed to grow while the existing public schools will have their growth capped indefinitely.

FACT: The ROADS II school will grant preference in admission to students who have been in the juvenile justice system. In doing so, it will concentrate an at-risk population who studies have shown have far better educational outcomes when integrated into the mainstream public education system.
(See page 10 of the linked PDF for details on admissions criteria.)

FACT: The DOE released information about the co-location on its website on February 2, but has given no notice to parents and students about the planned changes that would radically alter the character of their school.

Why does the Department of Education favor the ROADS charter school over the existing programs in the building?
What does Centerbridge Capital have to gain through its involvement ROADS charter school?
Why has the DOE not shared this information with parents and families?

The Joint Public Hearing for the ROADS II charter school co-location will be held at 6:00 p.m. at the Bronx Regional school building at 1010 Rev. James A. Polive Ave. in the Bronx.

For more info, follow our blog at

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Charter School Segregation Target Of New Report

(Image courtesy of Better Bronx Schools)

The Huffington Post
February 23, 2012

Charter schools often promise to bring greater equity to education, but a new brief starts with the assumption that they fall short in delivery -- and provides recommendations to fix the alleged injustice.

"Charter schools tend to be more racially segregated than traditional public schools," said author and Penn State law professor Preston Green III, who sat on a board that considered charter-school applications in Pennsylvania. "What we tried to do is write ways to enable charter schools to promote desegregation rather exacerbate segregation."

The brief, "Chartering Equity: Using Charter School Legislation and Policy to Advance Educational Opportunity," from the University of Colorado's National Education Policy Center features recommendations from both Green and University of Wisconsin, Madison education professor Julie Mead on how states and school districts can ensure that charters are integrated and helpful to disadvantaged populations. It also includes statutes that states can use to help reach those goals.
Charter schools are publicly funded, but can be privately run, and often admit students via lottery. Charter schools advocates argue that educational opportunity should not depend on zip code, and that charter schools allow for educational innovation that eventually can trickle back into the traditional system.

Detractors, however, often assert that charters siphon resources from traditional public schools without equal compensation and that they don’t serve specific populations, such as special-education students, in proportion with their existence.

Either way, charter schools, championed by both the Obama administration and free-market entrepreneurs, are growing: This year, as they edge into their third decade of existence, charter schools serve a total of 5 percent of American public school students -- an increase of 200,000, or 13 percent, from the year before.

According to research released in 2010 by professor Gary Orfield of the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, 70 percent of black charter school students attend a school where the bulk of their peers are also minorities -- compared to 40 percent in traditional public schools.

Orfield's brother, Myron Orfield, a professor at the University of Minnesota who directs the Institute on Race & Poverty, studies charter segregation at a local level.

"I think that charters are an engine of racial segregation. They are more segregated than public schools and cause public schools to be more segregated than they otherwise would be," he said. According to a report he plans to release Friday, from 2010-2011 almost 90 percent of black charter-school students in the Twin Cities are in segregated schools -- a number that actually increased by 8 percentage points over the last decade.

A common problem, Green said, is that charter schools often do not comply with federal civil-rights statutes. According to Orfield, they are legally responsible to do so, but are rarely challenged. For example, previous Supreme Court cases found "single-race schools were intentional segregation," Orfield said. "But charter schools haven't been challenged in this way, because people don't have a picture of how big a part of urban education they are."

But Ursula Wright, interim president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, rejects the premise of the brief. "I believe that charter schools have had the type of success that we currently have, serving 2 million kids across the country with hundreds of thousands on waiting lists, because people do see that we offer in many instances a better alternative," she said. "I can't agree with their starting point. The demand speaks for itself."

She added that she's heard Orfield's studies aren't "gold standard."

The brief includes recommendations for charter authorizers -- groups that approve and deny applications to start charter schools -- as well as state legislatures and the federal government.
One suggestion is that charter school authorizers require that in addition to academic qualifications, charter-school applicants show how "the school will broaden, not replicate, existing opportunities for struggling populations." Applicants should provide evidence that their approaches address environmental circumstances such as local achievement gaps, the brief said, and charter authorizers should factor "equal educational opportunity" concerns into renewal standards.

The brief's authors said they hoped its publication would influence the debate. Connecticut is deciding whether to increase charter-school funding. Alabama and Mississippi are considering their first charter-school laws.

Mead and Green recommend that state legislatures explicitly state in their laws that charter schools aim to "enhance equitable educational outcomes for all students, particularly those who have historically struggled," and that "charter schools must comply with all federal laws."

They also proposed new federal regulations, to be considered in the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind: that federal charter-school funding be tied to advancing equal opportunity, and that states are required to collect data on recruitment, retention and discipline in charter schools.

But those recommendations, said Wright, might not be feasible. "To push a federal statute down assuming states are set up to get that level of data is a bit of an oversimplication," she said.

see also:Black Star Journal

ROADS II informational meeting

ROADS II is not yet approved, however they are hosting an informational meeting on March 5 in the Bronx.

Date: March 5, 2012
Time: 6:00PM
Location: PS 214, 1970 West Farms Rd, BX 10460

Join us to share information. Contact:

The NAACP Resolution on Charter Schools: Segregation is Not Innovation

NAACP rejects emphasis on charter schools on basis of segregation, not informing communities, using funding for under-funded public schools and lack of regulation...

 Seattle Education post

The NAACP resolution on charter schools:
In a process established by the NAACP Constitution, this resolution was adopted by the delegates to the 101st Annual Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, during the legislative session in July, 2010. It was subsequently ratified by the NAACP National Board of Directors at its meeting on October 15, 2010. This resolution is now the policy of the Association, and is “binding on the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee, the Officers, and all units.”

WHEREAS, charter schools are public schools which were originally designed to explore new approaches to educate students; and

WHEREAS, in some cases, charter schools have become a school model that is used to segregate students; and

WHEREAS, charter schools have too seldom informed the education community regarding innovative instructional strategies that accelerate academic achievement in the general population of students; and

WHEREAS, the Center for Research in Educational Outcomes (CREDO) which examined charter school data in fifteen (15) states and the District of Columbia confirmed that only 17% of the charter school students in the study outperformed their peers, while 46% performed no better and 37% performed worse; and

WHEREAS, charter schools operate more autonomously than traditional public schools in the use of funds, adherence to state laws and school policies, selection and removal of students, and the selection and removal of staff, thus creating separate and unequal conditions for success; and

WHEREAS, charter schools draw funding away from already underfunded traditional public schools; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP recognizes that at best, quality charter schools serve only a small percentage of children of color and disadvantaged students for whom the NAACP advocates relative to said population left behind in failing schools; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP recognizes the urgent need to provide quality education for all children, not only those fortunate enough to win lotteries to attend existing quality charter schools; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP is committed to finding broad based, effective solutions for immediate implementation to improve the quality of public education for all children.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP will strongly advocate for immediate, overarching improvements to the existing public education system; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP rejects the emphasis on charter schools as the vanguard approach for the education of children, instead of focusing attention, funding, and policy advocacy on improving existing, low performing public schools and will work through local, state and federal legislative processes to ensure that all public schools are provided the necessary funding, support and autonomy necessary to educate all students; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP will urge all of its Units to work to support public schools throughout the nation to educate all children to their highest potential.
Roslyn M. Brock Leon Russell Benjamin Todd Jealous
Chairman Chairman President & CEO
National Board of Directors Committee on Resolutions


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Reminder: Meeting TONIGHT!

The fight for quality public schools is alive and well in the Bronx! Our next meeting is scheduled for this Thursday at 6:00 p.m. @ 928 Intervale.
(Take the Intervale Ave. stop off the 2/5 train, and find us on Intervale between 163rd. and Kelly St.)

Key activities will include break-out groups, new member orientation, and snacks courtesy of Better Bronx Schools!

Thanks as always to Mothers on the Move for hosting our event. See you there!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Keeping Up with the Joneses: NY Post Article on Satellite Basketball

(Image courtesy of Better Bronx Schools)
Go Satellite Lions!


Last Updated: 3:24 AM, February 9, 2012

For Satellite Academy, it was all about remaining undefeated and gaining some revenge. For Donavan Jones, it was about proving himself to coach Darryl Jones.

Jones wasn’t playing for Satellite Academy when it lost to Metro/BDA in the PSAL Transfer League Championship last season, but he was a key in making sure history didn’t repeat itself Wednesday night.

Donavan Jones scored a team-high 15 points for the undefeated Lions in their 55-46 victory in the PSAL boys basketball Transfer League A Division Championship at Hostos Community College in The Bronx.

“I couldn’t do this without Coach,” Donavan Jones said. “I spoke to Coach Jones last night and told him I had something to prove and I came through. He always tells me I could be more active in the game and he told me I needed to step up today.”

Satellite Academy (13-0) trailed Metro/BDA (10-3) by two late in the fourth quarter, but a strong finish kept them in the game en route to their championship victory. After trailing 46-44 with 4:00 minutes remaining, the Lions closed on a 9-0 run ensure they’d raise the banner.

The run reached its peak when the Jets’ Kevin Gonzalez (15 points) was called for a charge. After the call, Donavan Jones hit a jump shot to give the Lions a 50-46 lead before his team tacked on four more points.

The win was a large measure of revenge for the Lions, who hadn’t forgotten last year’s loss.

“It’s a great feeling to bring it back to our place after they got us last year,” Darryl Jones said. “[Donavan Jones] showed up big for us today. We had a conversation prior to the game with me talking to him and telling him I needed him to show up for this one. It’s self explanatory, he showed up and played a great game today.”

Donavan Jones showed no ill effects of his taped up right thumb that he injured while working out two weeks ago.

“You have to play through,” he said. “This is for the family, the whole team right here.”

Metro/BDA was able to hold usual leading scorer Stan Cespedes to nine points, but couldn’t contain Donavan Jones. It was a disappointing loss for the Jets, though they brought home the championship two out of their three years in the league.

“I think we had a chance to win,” Metro/BDA coach Glenn Ford said. “The game was a lot closer than the score reflected. There was a tough charge call on our best player and they beat us down the stretch and finished the game like a champion and we didn’t. I think we’re just as good as them and we have a lot of respect for them.”

It was a night to remember for Darryl Jones as he saw his team’s perfect season culminate in championship glory.

“This is a great feeling,” the coach said. “We didn’t lose a game and we had a good group of kids that worked hard and bought into what we’re teaching them. They played hard. They earned this one.”

Mayor Bloomberg's School leadership slammed as a Failure by New York's Elected Officials!

Video by Darren Marelli

Grassroots Education Movement writes:

"On February 9th at Brooklyn Tech High School, more than 2,000 parents, students and teachers voted "No Confidence" in the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP), a rubber-stamp for Michael Bloomberg's undemocratic system of mayoral control over New York City's public schools.

"In complete indifference to the will of parents, students, teachers, and the borough appointees on the panel, the mayor's puppets have voted to close 117 schools. These closures are devastating to local communities and a testament to the utter failure of a decade of mayoral dictatorship over the public school system." see:

see also:
Coalition for Public Education
NYC Public School Parents

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Our First Meeting: Be There!

The Fight to Save a School
Presented by Better Bronx Schools and Mothers on the Move
Date: Thursday, February 16, 2012
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Location: 928 Intervale Ave, between 163rd and Kelley

On the agenda:
Co-Location 101: Facts about the City's plans to change our school
The Analysis: Why this plan is unfair, unsafe, and undemocratic
The Solution: What are other schools doing? What are we fighting for?
Question & Answer Session
Next Steps: What can YOU do?

Everyone is invited!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Satellite Academy Creates Eco-Leaders

Schomburg Satellite Academy has a proud tradition of engaging students in community issues, providing an experiential education that is more relevant and more rigorous than a traditional high school can provide. One example of this is science teacher Carol Kennedy's excellent Eco-Leaders curriculum, which helps students make connections between science, social justice, and their community.

Satellite Academy is currently facing the risk of losing one third of their classroom to a charter school. The New York City Department of Education has pushed plans for this school into Satellite Academy for the upcoming 2012-2013 school year without any input from school parents, students, or community members. According to documents posted on the DOE website, the new school will take possession of the school's existing science lab, and the loss of classroom space will greatly hinder our ability to offer cutting-edge programs such as the Eco-Leaders. The community of Schomburg Satellite Academy needs your support in the fight for the democratic governing of the public schools. Bookmark this blog to stay tuned for details on how to help!

Check out our awesome Eco-Leaders:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Weekly Summary: 2/11/2012

This week was a bittersweet time for advocates of public education in New York City, highlighted by the monthly Panel for Educational Policy meeting (and protests!) as the leading event. At Thursday's meeting, Mayor Bloomburg's hand-picked appointees approved 23 school closures, despite vocal opposition from officials representing Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx. Over 2,000 protesters demonstrated at the Panel meeting, demanding a voice for New York City parents in the role of public education. They have been ignored by Chancellor Walcott and the rest of the mayor's appointees, but the media heard their message loud and clear:

Check out this round-up of the most important education news on the web.
Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say (New York Times)
Private-sector equity in U.S. education increases by 173% in 2011 (World Socialist Web Site)
Nine things you need to know about last night’s PEP meeting (Gotham Schools)
The people of New York City give Mayor Bloomburg's autocratic educational policy a vote of no confidence, according to the latest polls. (NYC Public School Parents)

Remember, there are two issues at stake here:
-The first is the continued success of the students of Schomburg Satellite Academy, an exceptional New York City transfer school that is slated to lose 7.5 of its 22 classrooms to a Bloomburg-mandated charter school.
-The second is that the education of students all over New York City, whose schools are run not by an elected body of representatives or parents, but by a domineering, unresponsive Panel established by and for the political interests of Mayor Bloomburg.

In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." SaveSatellite is committed to the cause of democracy and public education that benefits ALL stakeholders.

Thanks to all for the continued support of our site, our school, and the students of all New York City public schools!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

City Champs!

Congratulations to the Satellite Academy Lions!

Last night they defeated rivals Themla Hamilton High School 55-46 at Hostos Community College, reclaiming the city championship for the competitive Boys PSAL Alternative High School "A" league. The game was close, with the lead switching back and forth throughout the game. Satellite Academy was 12-0 this season, and their performance at Hostos was one of their best. Go Lions!

Verdict First, Trial Later, Justice Never

Next September, New York City is going to take classroom spaces from Satellite Academy to make room for a new charter school. According to the laws of New York City, the school charter co-location process should be subject to public input. Furthermore, it must be approved by Mayor Bloomburg's special Panel for Educational Policy. The panel votes to authorize, post-pone, or deny a charter school's proposed co-location, as outlined in Chancellor's Regulation A-190, Section C.

It is surprising, then, that the ROADS II charter school slated for co-location with Satellite Academy in the Bronx Regional Building is already accepting students. What makes this school so sure that it will be subject to PEP approval? Is the co-location of ROADS II really up for public input? The PEP, majority-appointed by Mayor Bloomburg, has never rejected one of his proposed school closings or co-locations. The voice of parents has no role in shaping the decision. The outcome is decided from the outset. For public schools in New York City, it's a case of verdict first, trial later, justice never.

The ROADS II application is pictured below:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Satellite Speaks Out!

Students from all over the city staged a protest in Union Square on Wednesday, protesting mayoral control, charter school co-location, and the closing of New York City public schools. Stephany Colon, a Satellite student, was among the protesters. Shown here is her interview with the NYC Public School Parents blog. Thanks for your support, Stephany!

Stephany Colon of Arturo Schomburg Satellite Academy: Dear Mayor Bloomberg, please don't close my school from leonie haimson on Vimeo.

For more info on the February 1st protest, check out the article on Gotham Schools.

The Control of Power

It hasn't always been like this. That is, communities and parents used to have a say in their children's education. Before Bloomburg, the New York City public schools were controlled by the Board of Education. Under this system, 32 of the 39 members of the Board were elected by the local school boards of New York City. The rest were appointed by the mayor and the borough presidents.

Since 2002, the public schools have been under "mayoral control". Mayor Bloomburg dissolved the Board of Education and created a committee to replace it called the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP). Under this new system, seven of the PEP members (a majority) are chosen by the mayor. The other five are chosen by the borough presidents. None of the PEP members are elected by the people! These seven members of the board that Bloomburg appointed always vote for the Mayor's plans. Sometimes the people of New York disagree with the PEP, but they have no way to vote when the PEP makes a decision.

The new system of mayoral control has been highly controversial. Many schools have been closed by the PEP, and many more have lost classroom space to charter schools opening in their buildings. Many people are upset about the changes to the schools. However, no one has been able to stop Bloomburg and the PEP. SaveSatellite believes that this system of top-down, autocratic control has no place in a democracy. It has no place in New York City. It is time for the students, parents, and teachers of New York City to be heard. It is time for a change.

The Official Story

Linked below are the documents that the DOE has released detailing their plans for a charter school co-located in Satellite Academy. They include:

The Public Notice
The Educational Impact Statement (EIS)
The Building Utilization Plan

Quick facts:
-The charter school, ROADS II, is scheduled to open in September for the 2012-2013 school year.
-Satellite Academy currently has 20 full-size classrooms. Under the charter school co-location, it will be limited to 12 full-size rooms and 5 half-size rooms.
-The Department of Education claims that this reduction in class space will have "no impact" on education at Satellite Academy.
-At no point during the planning process has the Department of Education contacted Satellite Academy parents, teachers, or students for input.

Welcome to Satellite

This blog is dedicated to the preservation of Schomburg Satellite Academy, a public high school in the South Bronx. Satellite is a transfer school, which means it serves students who are over-aged and under-credited, and it does so through a state-of-the-art portfolio-based assessment system. One of only 28 schools in New York State granted a waiver by the New York Board of Regents, Satellite delivers an education that provides an alternative to high-stakes testing. (To learn more about portfolio schools, visit The New York Performance Standards Consortium.)

On Thursday, February 2, the New York City Department of Education released a document outlining its plans to co-locate a charter school inside the Bronx Regional High School building where Satellite Academy is located. The Department of Education, run under the direct mayoral control of Mayor Michael Bloomburg, has presented one side of the issue. They have released a report and set dates for hearings, but so far they have not talked to the students, teachers, and parents that make up the Satellite community. This is our story.