GEM Meeting Notes Apr. 7 2009

submitted by Gloria B.

Grassroots Education Movement for Public Education
April 7, 2009

Agenda: Introductions, Summary of last meeting, Purpose of this group, Break Out Sessions- Rally and Charter School Forum, Report-Backs, Announcements

Money Raised at meeting- $93

I. History of this group:
Brief history of how this group was formed was presented – ICE did work on School Closings & ATRs and NYCORe was working on High Stakes Testing (Justice Not Just Tests). The two groups joined together and organized the March 28 Stop School Closing Conference. Other education groups and individuals have joined and this current loose coalition has been formed.

II. Purpose/name/organization of the group-
What is the purpose of this group? To counter the attack on public education – merit pay, charters, testing, etc. and to defend public education.

Discussion of basic points of agreement occurred. Budget cuts must be fought. Gustavo: Charters are put into buildings which takes money away from the public schools that are already in the buildings. Sean: School closings are the main cause of the ATR situation. The rally at Tweed was the beginning of this group. Need to include community groups, especially those that are loosing their neighborhood schools to Charters. We need to unite teachers, students and parents. Shelly: A friend of hers was unable to graduate due to inability to take a summer school class. A charter was put into her schools and there was no room/money for summer school classes to be given. Norm: Is this group inclusive of parents? Or is it an educator aimed group that might be able to make alliances with parent groups? Angel: Questioned how to structure the group and suggested name Grassroots Education Movements. Need to acknowledge the groups that originated this current loose coalition. Suggested that a description flier be developed that explains the formation. Antoine: Important to clarify and publicize principals of this group. Emily: Most people are already in an education-related group: No need for organizing another organization. Suggests that this group be a coalition of groups organizing around actions to support public education.

Name of group- Angel suggested GEM- Grassroots Education Movement. Suggestions were made to clarify the purpose of group. Final name: Grassroots Education Movement to Defend Public Education was adopted. GEM is a coalition of groups/individual who work together on issues.

Discussion continued regarding need to combine all the list serves that have been used so far into one master list for internal communications of GEM. A Blog will be developed to include announcements, articles, internal communication, etc. Only some people (authors) will have access to post or make changes. Invitees will have Read Only access.

III . Rally-
The Rally will be May 14.
Logistics: (All are tentative)
Route – Begin at Battery Park –Walk on Broadway- Stop at UFT- Continue on to Tweed for a Rally.
Time: Gather Between 4-4:30 PM, Stop at UFT at 5, Rally at Tweed at 5:30.
Permits: Sound permit not necessary when using bullhorns. No permit needed for a march with fewer then 1-00 people. If we have more then 100, we might march in separate contingents of 100. There was some confusion regarding the need for permits; will be further investigated by Norm and Seung.

Strategy regarding how to approach UFT was discussed. Question was raised regarding the possibility of alienating parent groups if this march is perceived as being anti UFT. Should we even stop at UFT? We should not be divided as this is what the Mayor wants- division within the UFT. Teachers should be taking a stand against the mayor, not the UFT. Do we appeal to the UFT to join with us?

Angel: We should stop at the UFT. With statement that our leadership is not doing enough to fight against the mayor and his anti public school policies.
Final agreement was made that we will briefly stop at UFT and try not to be too antagonistic but call on UFT to join with us in our demands.
Permits: Norm
Publicity: A flier will be made by Angel and Seung_________
Outreach: A master database will be developed to assist in outreach
Media: Angela
Banner: Signs, etc will be produced and organized by _____________
Security: Gloria
Visuals at Rally: John and Sean will organize guerilla Theatre-like activities at the March (Tombstones representing school closures, etc. 0
Speakers for rally:____________
Contact Chicago Group: How did they approach their union? ______
Buttons; Coordinated by Gloria. Please forward ideas for Button Slogan. Also, need a graphic designer to design button. Any volunteers or ides, contact Gloria

IV Forum on Charter Schools-
Speakers: In formation. Will include Parent, Teacher, and Charter School Expert
Outreach: Will be advertized widely, through the master list serve that we are developing, to all CEC’s, Schools, Colleges, etc. Suggestion made to reach out to alumni associations from closing schools.

V Report from Recent Events-
Boys & Girls HS Meeting on April 5- Angel, Lisa and Gloria attended. Main purpose seemed to be anti Mayor Control. Contacts made with individual teachers and the organizers of the meeting.

AL Sharpton Conference – National Action Network, Education Equity Project- Pro Mayoral Control with support for privatization of the schools. One panel included Sharpton, Klein, LA Mayor, Spellings, etc. There were 30 people present who opposed the purpose of this conference. Charles Barron spoke as an ally to the anti privatization forces. A side panel was offered but did not occur.

Additions to these meetings are to be forthcoming.

Respectively Submitted by Gloria Brandman


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