Bus Drivers Get a Reprieve

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Vote Sept 12
2. Bus Drivers Get a Reprieve
3. Education Under Attack

1) Vote Sept 12

Tuesday September 12 is the Primary Election.

In Spring Valley, Emilia White, Chevon DosReis, and Eustache Clerveaux are running together as The Team You Can Trust.

Each of these three candidates have been part of our struggle for quality education in East Ramapo.

Learn all about the candidates and their campaign at: www.SpringValley2017.com

2) Bus Drivers Get a Reprieve

Three times, elimination of East Ramapo buses and drivers was put on the agenda. Three times, it did not pass. Bus drivers who attended the meeting, fearful of losing their livelihood, left in joy and amazement that their jobs were not outsourced and privatized.

Public school advocate Sabrina Charles Pierre voted three times against this unwise proposal. She deserves our thanks.

3) Education Under Attack

In Israel, A Hasidic Educator faces violent opposition for teaching secular subjects.

In NYC, Mayor DeBlasio is turning a blind eye to deliberate enforced ignorance of tens of thousands of children.

In East Ramapo, thousands of students attend schools that deliberately fail to teach the NY State required curriculum. A large part of the East Ramapo budget goes towards busing and other services that enable this system of enforced ignorance.

Parents and children around the world are fighting for better education. Most face barriers of poverty and lack of resources. Some, including girls in certain neighborhoods in Pakistan and Nigeria, and boys in certain neighborhoods in Israel, NYC and East Ramapo, face opposition from religious zealots and negligence from state educational authorities.

Power of Ten stands in solidarity with YAFFED, an advocacy group committed to improving educational curricula within ultra-Orthodox schools. We believe that every child is entitled to receive the full benefit of education. We believe it is everyone’s responsibility to provide the necessary resources for the next generation to thrive, and everyone’s responsibility to ensure that no child’s education is neglected.

This is War!

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Battle of the Bus Depot Today
2. Declaration of War
3. A Global War on Children’s Education

1) Battle of the Bus Depot Today

Today, August 8, 2017, The East Ramapo school board will meet at 7:30 PM at their headquarters at 105 S. Madison Ave in Spring Valley, with the purpose of laying off bus drivers and selling buses. This is part of their plan to transfer real estate, 45 acres, from public ownership to private hands.

As we have seen with the Hillcrest and Colton school buildings, these “sales” are really land grabs. The school board will be selling, but they themselves are selected by those who will be the buyers. The conditions that create an excuse for the sale are manufactured.

The bus drivers are innocent bystanders. They are just in the way. The same way the children were in the way when schools were taken.

The NY State Education Department is complicit. Both school sales occurred during the tenure of the first “Fiscal Monitor”. The recommendations of the second monitor were ignored with no consequence. The current monitors endorsed a plan to use public dollars to provide extended courtesy busing for yeshivas while public school teachers are still spending money out of their own pockets for school supplies.

As the LifeLock commercial says: “Why monitor a problem if you don’t fix it?

2) Declaration of War

Today’s battle of the bus depot is part of a longer war on our public educational institutions. This became obvious when Aron Wieder appointed Al D’Agostino as the lawyer for the district. Joe Farmer, the Assistant Superintendent at the time, said “This is a declaration of war“.

He went on: “Here is the most unique community in the state of New York …  It’s not fair to destroy the potential of this community … and this community is being taken apart … and just from raw power, selfishness, to take control is not why we are in this business, and these students deserve more, they deserve better.”

3) A Global War on Children’s Education

It’s not only public educational institutions which are under attack in this war. Posters have gone up warning of “crossbreeding Yeshivas” in Israel that teach secular studies including about “other religions like Catholicism and Islam, God forbid.” “The ultra-Orthodox community in the United States will not let that happen under any circumstances.” “The sages already led a war against it.”

Who leads a “war” against Social Studies, Science and Math? Is it dangerous to know what a molecule is? Will learning the meaning of PEMDAS or SOHCAHTOA harm children? Would they be damaged from learning what happened at Harper’s Ferry? 

There is such a thing as right and wrong in the world. It is wrong to deny education to anyone, and it is illegal in NY to deny it to children. Those who would oppose education for their own families, or allow it to happen to their neighbors should not be entrusted with overseeing education of the general public. That applies to the East Ramapo school board and superintendent, and it applies to the NY State Department of Education – Commissioner, Monitors, Regents and all.

Coming to a school board meeting to stand up against laying off school bus drivers may not seem like a big step, but its a lot better than doing nothing. You don’t have to be Malala to make a difference, you just have to do what is there for you each day. Come to a meeting, write a letter, vote, make a donation to YAFFED, even just talking about the problem with your neighbor or co-worker makes a difference. But seriously … see you tonight!!!

 

 

Comparative Accountability

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Community Meeting Saturday
2. Bus Depot Land Grab
3. Comparative Accountability

1) Community Meeting Saturday

A Community Meeting has been called for Saturday, August 5 at 12 noon at the Martin Luther King Center, 110 Bethune Blvd in Spring Valley.

This message from school board member Sabrina Charles Pierre: The youth in our CommUNITY needs us now more than ever. Who is down for change? Who would like to make a difference? Let’s work together. We can only fail our children if we don’t try.

2) Bus Depot Land Grab

The Board of Education will be meeting on Tuesday August 8 at 7:30, at 105 S. Madison Ave in Spring Valley.

There is a rumor that they will be laying off bus drivers.

If this is true, it would be one more step in their plan to sell off the bus depot for pennies on the dollar, the same way they have sold off elementary schools.The previous steps have included deliberate neglect of the bus fleet as a precursor to closing the depot. The drivers are innocent bystanders.

Even Superintendent Oustacher, who cooperated with the closing of the schools (to a point), was opposed to outsourcing all of the busing and closing the depot. He felt there was an advantage to having a mixture of some district owned and some outsourced busing.

However, this school board does not consider what is best for public education or what the stated mission of the district is, except as an afterthought. The primary focus of this board is advancing the cause of the yeshivas and the real estate investors. That is their unstated primary mission.

You are encouraged to come on August 8 to see for yourself if this rumor is true and to bear witness to the un-rehabilitated school board. Our goal is for the public mission of the school district to be the actual measure against which all district actions are measured.

3) Comparative Accountability

Compare these two scenarios:

  1. A lawyer curses at and threatens a student; a school board spends public dollars on private tuition; public schools are sold at below market value. – No one is held accountable.
  2. Students are subject to a zero-tolerance policy. – There are consequences when students violate the rules.

It seems that the more powerful one is, the less likely they are to be held accountable.

Consider this report from a student who was disciplined: “The Assistant Principal stated that if he did not (suspend me) it would seem as if he wasn’t doing his job.”

The state of New York has whitewashed the actions of the East Ramapo school board. Multiple “monitors” have done nothing while these illegal actions have gone on. Yes, it seems as if they are not doing their job.

Why the double standard? It seems that the more powerful one is, the less likely they are to be held accountable. Is this the model that we desire for our society? Is this will you want to teach our children? Persecuting the weak and protecting the strong is moral cowardice.

East Ramapo does not have a zero-tolerance policy for lawyers or board members or superintendents. It has a zero-tolerance policy for students. But students are immature and prone to make mistakes. Parents, guardians, and educators understand their role is to escort these young people through this mistake prone time of life, but too often our institutions single-minded focus on “zero tolerance” leads to them becoming part of the “school to prison pipeline”. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. I was a volunteer with the PASS (Positive Alternatives to School Suspension) program. This was one of the many programs which fell victim to the cutbacks of the last several years. Suspended students reported to the Spring Valley RCC extension (now a yeshiva) and received tutoring in STEM, English and Social Studies, and even the Arts (I was teaching percussion instruments). It was an unforgettable experience for teachers, students, and volunteers. These were kids with similar stories to the report that I published here. Many did have a POSITIVE experience.

What are we willing, as a society, to invest in these kinds of endeavors? Frederick Douglass said “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

In Memoriam

Power of Ten

Special Edition:

David Lipman, Spring Valley HS class of 1939, passed away Wednesday at the age of 95.

He was honored in 2016 by the Rockland County Historical Society as a “Living Landmark”.  David served as a Corporal in WWII, earning a Bronze Star while doing dangerous missions and being tortured by the Nazis. His story was featured in the local Newspaper “Our Town” by writer Mark Judelson.

David came to a meeting of the East Ramapo school board in September 2015. He delivered the following speech, here reproduced in full, in honor of his memory.

My name is David Lipman, Spring Valley High School, Class of 1939, from the original location on South Main St. Like many of my classmates, I went on to college; I became a professional engineer. Others became doctors, lawyers, teachers, police officers, artists, musicians. One became an actor, with an engineering degree to fall back on. Why? Because we were well EDUCATED. We were given solid foundations in all subjects.

During WWII, we set aside our studies and our lives to go and fight for the freedom of other people. I came home with a Bronze Star and permanently damaged shoulders from the tender care of the Gestapo. One of my brothers, Walter, sacrificed himself in the Pacific Theater to save his air crew. There’s a local Jewish War Veteran’s post named after him, you can look him up. As part of my service I was present at Concentration Camp Dora. There, I saw horrible, unimaginable things; things that do not belong in this room with children.

Then I came home, finished college, raised my family and sent my children to SVHS. My son, Walter is Class of 1972, and my daughter Ruth, 1976. Again, the Lipman family was well served by their excellent public school education. Both my children are professionals, and have a love of learning and reading, with inquisitive minds. Many of their classmates are likewise.

Now, I see what has become of this once fine school system, and I am appalled. I see that the perpetrators of this are largely my own people; people who were the subject of those unspeakable horrors at Dora and places like Dora. Is this how you repay the community to which you came? Is this why the people of this community fought and died- so that 70 years later, you could grind under your heel their grandchildren, as well as the next group of downtrodden immigrants?

I seem to recall two principles from my religious education; one, that we are enjoined to make THE world a better place, not just OUR world; and two, that we were strangers once, enslaved in Egypt. The Torah tells us that we have an OBLIGATION to the stranger- the Gentile- at least three times: Exodus 22:21, Leviticus 19:34 and Deuteronomy 10:19. And yet, this is not what I see. Instead of honey, we have poured bitter herbs on the books of these children, if they have books at all! This defames the memory of both the people of this community who died fighting against the enslavement and horrors of the Holocaust, and those who were its victims. You who are its survivors have a great obligation which you are failing to uphold.

It will take far more than 11 days of repentance to expiate this sin.

 

A Mother’s Plea

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. East Ramapo is a 2017 Campaign Issue
2. A Mother’s Plea
3. A Father’s Demand for Accountability

4. This American Life Revisits East Ramapo

1)  East Ramapo is a 2017 Campaign Issue

County Exec Candidate Maureen Porette has weighed in on the lack of education in East Ramapo’s yeshivas, and she is not pulling any punches. Power of Ten congratulates her on her strong stand in favor of educating all children.

She made her position crystal clear in an interview on a local radio show. Candidate Porette stated: 

Under New York State education law (non-public schools) need to be teaching Math English and Social Studies … but if they’re not teaching these subjects to these children then they are not entitled to any state money … we are talking about 24,000 children in private schools that are not being educated … How can (Dr. Wortham) possibly oversee that … 24,000 private school students (are) being properly educated? If you’re not going to oversee … that they’re being properly educated then all the money should be going to the public schools.

You can learn more about Ms. Porette on her website: https://poretteforcountyexec.com/

2) A Mother’s Plea

East Ramapo parents will understand this mother’s feelings:

“Can you imagine how helpless I feel to not be able to give my child basic educational nourishment? There is nothing more frustrating than seeing my son’s future and potential being robbed from him because of these terrible decisions.”

Read her story at: https://medium.com/@hasidicmom/a-mothers-plea-to-mayor-de-blasio-c342e52cc319

This mother lives in NYC, but there are many like her here in East Ramapo. In NYC Mayor DeBlasio controls the schools, but in East Ramapo it is Dr. Wortham who is responsible to see that education is provided to every child, whether they are in home school, public school, or a non-public school. As Ms. Porette points out, Dr. Wortham should have support and guidance from NY State Education Dept. on this. Where is Commissioner Elia? Our “Monitors”???

3) A Father’s Demand for Accountability

At a recent East Ramapo school board meeting, a father, Yoel Falkowitz, talks about the lack of education in the Hasidic boys yeshivas. There is almost NO (secular) education given beyond the 3rd or 4th grades. Yoel knows this first hand because as a child he went to these Hasidic yeshivas.

He says: “The children hardly get anything in these schools. The children deserve better and the parents want education for their children, but the schools won’t provide it.”

Mr Falkowitz is only asking that Dr. Wortham follow NY State law:

“It is up to the superintendent to see that children get a proper education as mandated by NYS Law. The law demands that equivalent education is provided to all children.”

He demands accountability from the board: “My question is, if the law demands it, the child deserves it, we all know better and I see you work very hard to see that public school students get a proper education and the parents want it. So the questions almost asks itself, who are you working for if not for the children? Why are those children being left out completely? Why is the question left unanswered so many times? Anybody in power or anybody on the board that is not doing anything about it, should be held accountable.”

You can see his speech to the board on Antonio Luciano’s YouTube Channel: https://youtu.be/RHw1ogUAHfI

4) This American Life Revisits East Ramapo

When the original version of “A Not So Simple Majority” aired on the public radio show This American Life, people all over America were listening. Ben Calhoun told our story with such clarity that even people who were already very familiar with the facts were overcome with emotion.

One person told me she was listening in the car and had to pull over because she was crying so hard.

The show was updated and rebroadcast this week. You can still listen online at: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/534/a-not-so-simple-majority

 

Vote YES on Tuesday, June 20

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Budget Revote Tuesday
2. Monitor Performance Review
2. IDC is Bad for East Ramapo

1) Budget Revote Tuesday

The school budget vote is Tuesday, June 20. This budget contains some really important improvements for the students. It does not contain the deceit and extortion that were in the previous budget proposals.

The Power of Ten recommends a “YES” vote on June 20.

You can look up your polling place with the Power of Ten Poll Lookup Tool

2) Monitor Performance Review

We are now entering our fourth year of state ordered monitors for East Ramapo. How has this system been working for our students and our community?

Before any monitor was appointed, local education advocates and community members were calling for a new system of governance for East Ramapo. Over 6,000 people signed a petition in favor of NY State intervention in the district.  The appraiser in Hillcrest Elementary sale scandal was arrested for grand larceny and filing a false instrument. Governor Cuomo was under pressure to do something.

The first person to get the title of “Monitor” for East Ramapo was Hank Greenberg. His term began in June of 2014. Commissioner King said “The goal of a fiscal monitor is to look at how East Ramapo is using its resources, to make sure its use of resources is consistent with federal law, state law and is in the best interests of students.”

During Mr. Greenberg’s tenure, two schools were sold at below market value. Did he “make sure” East Ramapo was using its resources “in the best interests of students”?

Mr. Greenberg made a PowerPoint presentation in November 2014. It repeated many of the violations which had already been reported by the state education department and local public education advocates. There was no evidence of original investigation, just a re-framing of the issue as a conflict between communities. This was a sharp departure from the previous stance of the education department which treated violations by a school official as infractions to be corrected. One member of the board or regents said “it’s a mistake to call it a mistake.”

Mr. Greenberg recommended a monitor with veto power, which left in place a school board whose performance he had characterized as “abysmal”. This recommendation required passage of a new law by the NY State Legislature. The bill did not pass.

Did Mr. Greenberg achieve his mandate to “make sure” East Ramapo was using its resources “in the best interests of students”? Or did he make sure that Gov. Cuomo could say he did ‘something’ about East Ramapo without angering his ultra-Orthodox supporters?

The next monitor for East Ramapo was Dennis Walcott. He served from August of 2015 to January 2016.  Mr. Walcott had some help, and they did some original research and filed reports that indicated the situation for students was even worse than previously thought. Mr. Walcott’s recommendations were largely ignored. 

The third monitor, appointed after the second attempt to pass a bill implementing the first monitor’s recommendations, came with money. This money was specifically earmarked for programs that helped students, including all day Kindergarten and partial restoration of some Art and Music programs. These programs have been very warmly received by  parents hungry for some good news. The dedicated professionals who provide these services are to be congratulated.

There has not been much evidence that any monitor has uncovered or prevented the kinds of abuse detailed by public education advocates. In fact, the current monitor failed to discover and alert the commissioner of the funding for courtesy busing which was snuck into the first budget proposal this year. The monitor also failed to stop the district awarding a contract to a bus company that had been blocked from receiving such contracts due to fraud. 

It is unrealistic to expect a single person to be able to police a coordinated conspiracy of many individuals who are abusing their legal authority. It should come as no surprise that the district continues to face threats of further land grabs and budget cuts. The monitors recommendation for more monitors only addresses the problems of those who appoint them. East Ramapo needs a different system of governance than other school districts. It is time to refocus our attention on this goal, by any means necessary. 

3) IDC is Bad for East Ramapo

The bill for a monitor with veto power passed the NY State Assembly, which is majority Democrat, but was blocked in the Senate. Senator Flanagan, the president of the Senate, a Republican from Long Island, would not even allow it to be debated. It is clear that as long as Senator Flanagan is president of the NY Senate, East Ramapo will not see any substantial relief from the NY State legislature.

The IDC is a group of Democrats that don’t support the Democratic choice for president of the Senate. Power of Ten joins with the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) in calling for the IDC to rejoin the other Democrats and oppose Senator Flanagan. Our own Senator Carlucci is a member of this group, we hope he will listen to your voice on this matter.

You can express your opinion using this easy online petition created by the AQE.

 

A New Beginning

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Budget Revote
2. The 2018 School Board Campaign
3. Spring Valley Election Campaign

1) Budget Revote

The protection racket that Dr. Wortham, Commissioner Elia, and Monitors Szuberla and Sipple tried to pass off as an education budget failed miserably at the polls. What were they thinking?

They are now preparing a new budget that will be presented to the voters on June 20. They will put the budget to the school board to approve at the June 6 board meeting.

The original budget this year seemed to be on the right track, but then was rescinded when it was learned illegal courtesy busing was snuck in (Discovered by community activist Antonio Luciano, can someone remind me why we have monitors again?)

We need a budget that provides the resources for a quality education. Is that too much to ask?

Sign this petition to Dr. Wortham and Commissioner Elia asking them to focus our resources on expanding educational programming, NOT on more expensive courtesy busing.

2) The 2018 School Board Campaign

Thanks to Strong East Ramapo, we had a robust campaign in 2017. Much thanks to our three wonderful candidates, Alexandra Manigo, Eric Goodwin, and Chevon DosReis. Even though they did not win their seats, they increased community awareness and activism through their campaign. It is our increasingly educated and vocal community which is the driving force behind the gains in educational programming we have seen over the last year.

Strong East Ramapo is already starting to plan for next year. Please sign up to join their effort at http://www.strongeastramapo.org/

Power of Ten offers its condolences to the family and friends of Ruth Flowers, the 101 year old woman who was featured in the advertisements this year encouraging people to vote in school board elections. She was a role model of active citizenship, and her passing is a loss to our whole community.

3) Spring Valley Election Campaign

September 12, 2017 will be the primary election for the mayor and two trustees in the village of Spring Valley.

Deputy Mayor Emilia White is running for mayor, and Chevon DosReis and Eustache Clerveaux are running for the two trustee positions.

All three members of this team have been our candidates for East Ramapo school board in the past. They have shown through their actions that they are trustworthy, respectful, and competent.

Because many Power of Ten readers are not Spring Valley residents, I will only be posting a limited amount of information on this page. If you want to continue to be informed about the Spring Valley campaign, please visit their webpage http://springvalley2017.com and sign up for further updates and/or to help with the campaign.

Party Monday, Vote Tuesday

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Vote This Tuesday
2. ELECTION EVE BLOCK PARTY
3. Petition: No Confidence in Commissioner

1) Vote This Tuesday

  • Who: Everyone who is eligible to vote.
  • What: Vote for our team of public school parents – Alexandra Manigo, Eric Goodwin, and Chevon DosReis. Vote NO on proposition 1.
  • Where: Find your polling place at: http://poweroften.us/poll-lookup/
  • When: Tuesday, May 16 from 7 AM to 10 PM

2) ELECTION EVE BLOCK PARTY

Please share with your friends that Monday at 6:30 p.m. is our fun-filled event in Spring Valley’s Memorial Park to build excitement and energy for Election Day. We will have an information booth to visit so that you can sign up to volunteer on Election Night (and get one of our T-shirts!), even if you missed today’s meeting.
 
If you can’t wait until Monday to feel passion about improving our schools, however, look no further than this two-minute video clip from George Farran, one of our outstanding volunteers who addressed the board POWERFULLY this past week, saying “it is an insult to the community to continue to misappropriate funds.” 

3) Petition: No Confidence in Commissioner

It is unacceptable and irresponsible to approve a budget based on quid-pro-quo deal and misrepresentations. Commissioner Elia should have known better. She must be held responsible.

Please sign this petition calling on the NY State Board of Regents to cast a vote of no-confidence in Commissioner Elia, and for her to step down as Commissioner of Education.

Budget Blackmail and Betrayal

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Budget Blackmail and Betrayal
2. NO Confidence
3. NO on the Budget
4. The Final Stretch

1) Budget Blackmail and Betrayal

There is no other way to say it. The superintendent, the monitors, and the commissioner were given an ultimatum: “Put $1.4 million into the budget for ultra-orthodox yeshivas, or we will vote the budget down.”

It was a test, and they failed.

Elia fails East Ramapo: View

East Ramapo’s tax-cap busting calculation: Editorial

The correct answer was given by Assembly member Ellen Jaffee, who said “While on the surface overriding the tax cap appears to be a long-term strategy, the board’s proposal will reverse the positive direction the district has taken and undermine the trust that together we have worked so hard to establish.”

We can longer have confidence that Commissioner Elia will act with integrity and sensitivity. We must hold her accountable for this betrayal of our trust.

 

2) NO Confidence

It is unacceptable and irresponsible to approve a budget based on quid-pro-quo deal and misrepresentations. Commissioner Elia should have known better. She must be held responsible.

Please sign this petition calling on the NY State Board of Regents to cast a vote of no-confidence in Commissioner Elia, and for her to step down as Commissioner of Education.

3) NO on the budget

How can we adequately express our outrage over the deceptive and prejudicial budget deal? We are only given two choices: YES or NO. We were not included in the backroom deal-making. Even our one representative on the board was left out. One writer to The Power of Ten expressed sadness over the decision she felt forced to make:

I am an educator as well as a taxpayer in the East Ramapo Central School District. I am extremely displeased and frustrated in the way the school board has been disenfranchising the public school children in this district. Since the time in which my own children have attended the public schools in the district, I have been witnessing a steady decline in the services, materials, etc. to which these students should be entitled.

Please do NOT approve any budget for East Ramapo that includes funding for non-mandated busing for non-public schools. All public school programs should be fully restored and adequately funded before considering expanding non-mandated services for non-public schools.

For the first time in over the thirty years that my husband and I have lived in the East Ramapo Central School District, we will not vote in favor of such a budget!!

4) The Final Stretch

ONE WEEK LEFT — We have just SEVEN DAYS before the Election! It’s not too late to be part of the action:

  • This Saturday — Get Prepared (4:30, New Hillcrest Fire House, 374 N. Main
  • Next Monday (5/15) — Get Pumped (6:30, Spring Valley’s Memorial Park)
  • Next Tuesday (5/16) — Get Political (7 a.m. to 10 p.m.) at the polls

Sign up for all these events at www.StrongEastRamapo.org

 

 

East Ramapo Protection Racket

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. East Ramapo Protection Racket
2. School Board Candidates Forum

1) East Ramapo Protection Racket

The East Ramapo school board is attempting to hold the students education budget hostage to providing money for non-mandated busing to non-public schools.

However, Commissioner Elia has been charged by law with ensuring the budget, “to the greatest extent possible, expands educational programming for students”.

The budget contains several  important increases for education, including hiring 20 teachers, an increase in support for English language learners, an increase in special education collaborative classes and increases in summer learning and the arts. These are all now in danger because the school board’s extortion tactics.

Read more on LoHud: East Ramapo seeks tax cap override for budget

Your action needed:

Sign this petition to Commissioner Elia, asking her to tell East Ramapo to ensure that all public school programs are fully restored and adequately funded before considering expanding non-mandated services.

2) School Board Candidates Forum

Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 6:30 PM
Louis Kurtz Civic Center, 9 North Main Street Spring Valley

Presented by The Spring Valley NAACP and JAMCCAR, Inc.
Get Involved, Be Engaged, Make a Difference!

For additional information, Contact Co-Chairs -Vivian Street 845-891-3919 or Sonia Tracey 845-222-5973
Spring Valley NAACP Branch Office 845-362-6227

 

Legal Notice; Funding Explained

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Lakewood School Cuts Driven by Yeshiva Costs
2. School Board Loses Appeal
3. Notice of Proposed Voluntary Discontinuance of Class Action with Prejudice
4. Senator Carlucci at Center of Budget Controversy

1) Lakewood School Cuts Driven by Yeshiva Costs

The Lakewood NJ school system this year is facing cuts to education similar to what happened to East Ramapo from 2008 to 2014. Then, East Ramapo cut hundreds of teachers and support staff, resulting in overcrowded classrooms, deletion of entire programs of education, and being designated a “focus” district by NY State.

According to a new article by Leslie Brody in the Wall Street Journal, the Lakewood school board is dominated by ultra-Orthodox men who don’t have children in public schools and is proposing a budget that will decimate those schools. Protected in the budget are busing for yeshivas and payments to special education programs that serve only ultra-Orthodox students. 

These are the same factors that are driving the continuing problems in East Ramapo. Increasing costs are being driven by increasing numbers of students enrolled in yeshivas, but ultra-Orthodox voters have no incentive to increase school tax to cover these costs.

Adding insult to injury, most of the children attending yeshivas aren’t being educated as required by law.  There have been repeated scandals involving public funding of out-of-district special education, including the recent indictment of one Lakewood Rabbi on charges of stealing $630,000.

All of the advances of the last year could be wiped away unless we change the way schools are governed and funded. If we as a society value education, then we must make our laws support and protect it.

2) School Board Loses Appeal

Before the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act), students with disabilities were often kept out of classrooms with their peers for no good reason. They were given a second-class education and otherwise abused and mistreated. The IDEA mandated school districts to provide education for students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. It said that districts couldn’t get out of providing education just by saying they didn’t have specialty resources; they would have to pay for out-of-district placements if they couldn’t do it in house. The East Ramapo school board found their own way to twist this law which was meant to protect disabled students from discrimination. They started approving using public funds to make out-of-district placements that were not in the least restrictive environment.

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) does audits of these kinds of things. They found that the districts placements were not consistent with the IDEA law. The district sued NYSED to block them from telling the district how to do out-of-district placements. They lost that lawsuit. Then they appealed. On March 28 they lost the appeal too

3) Notice of Proposed Voluntary Discontinuance of Class Action with Prejudice

The following link is to a legal notice regarding a potential class action lawsuit. The suit was filed by parents and taxpayers, including myself, regarding the legal fees incurred by the district.

Readers are strongly encouraged to read this notice in full.

Class Action Notice

4) Senator Carlucci at Center of Budget Controversy

Our own Senator Carlucci is increasingly in the center of the controversy about education funding in this year’s NY State budget. The Democratic controlled Assembly has proposed spending more than the Republican controlled Senate. At stake for East Ramapo is the $20.6 million in foundation aid that we are owed from the CFE lawsuit.

The issue has been debated on the opinion page of the Journal News:

Carlucci and IDC broke promises to Ossining, East Ramapo kids: View

Carlucci responds: Fix the broken school aid formula

Readers react to Sen. David Carlucci’s school aid stand

There will be a rally on Friday, April 7, at 12:30 pm across the street from Senator Carlucci’s office, 20 South Main Street, New City, asking Senator Carlucci to work with the Democrats on a number of issues, including funding for foundation aid.

About Foundation Aid:

The State Aid Formula is designed to address unequal financial abilities of local districts. The State of NY has a constitutional responsibility to children. The formula is how the state measures where the help is most needed. It takes into account the income and property value of the local district, as well as special needs such as poverty and services to non-public schools. Without some objective measure, state aid could be influenced by politics.

The formula provides East Ramapo with the largest amount of state aid of any district in Rockland County. However, from 2008 to 2014, state funds were reduced. Other districts increased local revenue so the children would not be harmed. But in East Ramapo board members chose not to compensate, claiming voters wouldn’t approve.

There are three factors that caused the cuts to programs in East Ramapo. The largest is the reduction in local contribution, caused by lack of support for public education in areas with heavy concentration of ultra-Orthodox voters. This results in East Ramapo having what is called a low “local revenue effort rate”.

Another impact is spending on non-public schools. Because these expenses are guaranteed, ultra-Orthodox voters can vote down school budgets without worrying about it affecting yeshivas. By electing a school board dominated by ultra-Orthodox members, they can even guarantee they won’t ever even be asked to pass a budget based on public needs.

The third factor is the state budget. If the formula was fully funded by the NY Senate, there would be a lot more state aid for East Ramapo. Calculations by the Alliance for Quality Education are that East Ramapo is owed $20.6 million.

Beyond all of this there is still the issue of governance. Bad governance has a negative impact on the budget through property sales at below market value, out-of-district placements; and over-priced lawyers.  Efforts to change the problem with governance include the annual school board elections, monitors supplied by NYSED, and legislation for a monitor with veto power.

 

Two BIG Events; Scholarship Opportunity

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Fundraiser Thursday
2. Scholarship Opportunity
3. Two from E Ramapo Honored on Sunday

1) Fundraiser Thursday

Every election has expenses. We hope you will give generously to the campaign. But it doesn’t have to be all pain and sacrifice! We are planning a real fun and enjoyable event!

This evening is going to be big! Come for the music of Spyro Gyra’s Jeremy Wall and Motherland Rhythms’ Arthur Lorde, hear from our 2017 candidates, enjoy light refreshments, and help us reach our $10,000 goal for campaign supplies. RSVP at www.strongeastramapo.org/rsvp now.

Thursday, March 30 at 7 p.m.
The Nagin Residence, 23 Dogwood Lane, Pomona

If you cannot make it but wish to donate, please visit:
https://eastramapotogether.wordpress.com/donate-to-the-cause/

2) Scholarship Opportunity

Green Meadow Waldorf School is offering a limited number of scholarships to local students entering Grades 8, 9, and 10 in the 2017-18 school year.

Partial and full scholarships are available, in order to make enrollment possible for students who otherwise could not afford to attend.

You can learn more about Green Meadow at www.gmws.org. There also will be an Introductory Session on April 21.

Please contact Melissa McDonagh, Admissions Director for Grades 1-12, with any questions or to apply. She can be reached at 845.356.2514 x302 or mmcdonagh@gmws.org.

3) Two from E Ramapo Honored on Sunday

The MLK Center will hold it’s 26th Annual Awards Benefit Gala on Sunday, April 2nd, from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at The Clubhouse at Patriot Hills.

This year they are honoring two from East Ramapo, Dr. Wortham and Mr. Arciniegas!

Purchase your tickets today: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-martin-luther-king-multi-purpose-centers-2017-annual-awards-benefit-gala-tickets-32818662503

For more information call 845-425-8910

Dr. Wortham to be honored by MLK Center

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Fundraiser March 30
2. District Budget Update
3. State Budget Update

4. MLK Center Event April 2

1) Fundraiser March 30

Every election has expenses. We hope you will give generously to the campaign. But it doesn’t have to be all pain and sacrifice! We are planning a real fun and enjoyable event!

This evening is going to be big! Come for the music of Spyro Gyra’s Jeremy Wall and Motherland Rhythms’ Arthur Lorde, hear from our 2017 candidates, enjoy light refreshments, and help us reach our $5,000 goal for campaign supplies. RSVP at www.strongeastramapo.org/rsvp now.

Thursday, March 30 at 7 p.m.
The Nagin Residence, 23 Dogwood Lane, Pomona

If you cannot make it but wish to donate, please visit:
https://eastramapotogether.wordpress.com/donate-to-the-cause/

2) District Budget Update

By Dr. Andrew Mandel

Few people were able to attend the March 16 community budget meeting and board meeting — including three missing board members, though we had three candidates there (Allie, Chevon and Eric!) ready and willing to take their place — but there was a lot to like and a lot to ponder. 

Great that the superintendent is planning for more special education collaborative and bilingual classes, more assistants in kindergarten, more summer school slots, more advanced classes in the high school, and many other additions. 

Great that high school administrators took a tour of other county high schools, learned that East Ramapo has shorter class periods than anyone else, and advanced a proposal to increase instructional time and electives for kids. 

Great that Dr. Wortham took feedback during the budget meeting and pledged to address areas, such as parent engagement, not currently covered by the new budget plan. 

Dr. Wortham and I don’t quite agree about what restorative justice requires — she’s focused on prevention, whereas I also see a need for positive intervention — but I believe her data-driven, alignment-focused, growth-mindset-fueled approach does reflect strong school reform practice. I will take her up on her offer to walk through the schools and share more of what I observe. 

In the meantime, I encourage everyone to participate in the two other community budget meetings (March 21 and 23 at 6 pm at 105 S. Madison) to share what you want to see in district schools.

One observation: I understand the obsession with positivity, but it sometimes can create more skepticism than it aims to snuff out. For example, I wanted to hear the liabilities of a “unit lunch” schedule, which I imagine could confuse students whose class sequence would change every day, but administrators focused on cheerleading the plan. Trust the public with the good, the bad and the ugly. Maybe it seems counter-intuitive, but that approach will breed more good will than a happy dance alone.

3) State Budget Update

Education is a key part of the NY State budget as well. Each year, budget proposals are made by the Governor, the Senate, and the Assembly. This year, only the Assembly version will fully fund foundation aid. Foundation aid is distributed based on student poverty, students with disabilities and English language learners.

An attempt to amend the Senate Education Budget to include the full foundation aid was not supported by the IDC (Independent Democratic Caucus) of which our own Senator Carlucci is a member.

According to the Alliance for Quality Education, “East Ramapo is owed $20.6 million in Foundation Aid under existing law and would receive this under the plan passed by the State Assembly. However, the Carlucci-IDC-GOP proposal would gut the Foundation Aid formula and dramatically shortchange East Ramapo.”

Tell Senator Carlucci you want NY State to live up to its obligation to fully fund foundation aid now: http://org.salsalabs.com/o/425/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=21384 

4) MLK Center Event April 2

The MLK Center will hold it’s 26th Annual Awards Benefit Gala on Sunday, April 2nd, from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at The Clubhouse at Patriot Hills.

This year they are honoring two from East Ramapo, Dr. Wortham and Mr. Arciniegas!

Purchase your tickets today: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-martin-luther-king-multi-purpose-centers-2017-annual-awards-benefit-gala-tickets-32818662503

For more information call 845-425-8910

Fundraiser Rescheduled

Power of Ten Special Edition:

The fundraiser scheduled for Thursday March 16 has been rescheduled to Thursday March 30. Sign up on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/390397481316690/

What: Fundraiser for East Ramapo school board campaign
When: March 30 at 7 PM 
Where: 23 Dogwood Lane, Pomona

If you cannot make the event, you can still donate online at: https://eastramapotogether.wordpress.com/

Polling places will not change this year. The school board president has removed the plan from his agenda.

Please sign up to help this year’s school board and budget campaign at http://www.strongeastramapo.org/

 

Standing UP!

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

  1. Our Candidates
  2. March 14 Board Meeting
  3. March 16 Fundraiser

1) Our Candidates

May 16, 2017 is the Board and Budget Vote.

We are standing up for ALL of our children!

What about you? Can we count on you to participate?

Our Candidates:

2) March 14 Board Meeting

The East Ramapo Board wants to switch people’s polling places eight weeks before the election. That will cause chaos and confusion, and the NAACP is opposing this decision. Tell the board what you think by signing this petition Then come to the board meeting on March 14 at 7:30 p.m. at 105 S. Madison to raise your voice!

3) March 16 Fundraiser

PLEASE JOIN US IN SUPPORTING OUR EAST RAMAPO STUDENTS!
WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Our 2017 Candidates

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Our Candidates for 2017
2. Campaign Fundraiser
3. New Data Section

1) Our Candidates

Thank you to all who helped make the 2017 forum a success. Everyone was very impressed with 10 fantastic people willing to serve on our school board! They all presented exactly the wide variety of skills and backgrounds that the Center for Public Education says are necessary for a well functioning school board. 

Since 2009, we have come together each year to coordinate our efforts. We have helped 18 candidates to run, 5 of which have been successful. The only prerequisite is to be a team player.

This year the room was packed and many questions were asked. “How will you accomplish your goals as a minority member on a board?” and “Will you support the team even if you are not a candidate this year?” were among many questions asked and answered. At the end of the evening we all wished that every one of these smart and generous people could win a seat on our board this year! But that will have to be a multi-year campaign as there are only three seats up each year.

Those who have had experience running campaigns review all the information and put together a slate and backups (In case a candidate can’t continue, for instance illness, it has happened three times!). Those who were willing to be candidates are automatically backups, and often become the hardest working volunteers – which is the best preparation for being a candidate when the next election comes up in 364 days. 

The three candidates chosen by the review committee this year are Allie Manigo, Chevon DosReis, and Eric Goodwin. We wish them all the best of luck and promise to work hard to elect them to our school board.

The others who offered to serve this year were Joan Golden, Jordan Spells, Malcolm Stewart, Benny Everheart, Kat Cancio, Brandon Smith and Jean Fields. 

We all want to support better education for our children (we consider every child in the district as ours) and an election campaign offers opportunity for concrete action, such as putting up signs, making calls, knocking on doors, passing out literature, making a financial contribution. 

We do need to remember that all of these actions have the potential benefit of helping our neighbors become more informed, involved, and active, whatever the outcome of the election. Our participation at the event and in the campaign is our way of showing our children and our neighbors that an active life is meaningful.

2) Campaign Fundraiser

Every election has expenses. We hope you will give generously to the campaign. But it doesn’t have to be all pain and sacrifice! We are planning a real fun and enjoyable event! 

This evening is going to be big! Come for the music of Spyro Gyra’s Jeremy Wall and Motherland Rhythms’ Arthur Lorde, hear from our 2017 candidates, enjoy light refreshments, and help us reach our $5,000 goal for campaign supplies. RSVP at www.strongeastramapo.org/rsvp now.

Thursday, March 16 at 7 p.m.
The Nagin Residence, 23 Dogwood Lane, Pomona

If you cannot make it but wish to donate, please visit: 
https://eastramapotogether.wordpress.com/donate-to-the-cause/

3) New Data Section

For those readers that just never get enough data, I am starting a new section of just data without analysis. Maybe you will have your own analysis of the data presented! I would like to hear from you. The first set of data is now on the Power of Ten webpage at: http://poweroften.us/fact-sheet/book-expenses/

Call To Action

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Call to Action
2. Board Meeting Tomorrow
3. Candidate’s Forum Thursday

1) Call to Action from Strong East Ramapo

— If you think it’s a problem that East Ramapo plans to switch people’s polling places eight weeks before a critical election
— If you think it’s a problem that East Ramapo’s plan does not involve addressing why certain poll sites (like the Kurtz Center in congested, parking-unfriendly downtown Spring Valley) are underused by voters
— If you think it’s a problem that the basis of East Ramapo’s plan to improve district voting is to make it more convenient for Monsey and Kaser voters to vote by opening up polls at Bais Shifra Miriam (229 Maple) and Elmwood Elementary, around the corner from each other
— If you think it’s a problem that President Yehuda Weissmandl is saying that Dennis Walcott told the district to address the supposed “overcrowded” polling sites in Monsey, when Walcott’s report in fact asks the district to “review underused polling sites and identify new sites for the 2016 election to ensure greater accessibility to voting locations,” ironically under the section titled “rebuilding community trust”
— If you think it’s a problem that President Weissmandl wrote the NAACP that the “district is not aware of any difficulties encountered by voters in getting to the current polls…this was not noted in the monitors’ report” when accessibility issues of underused polling sites was the whole point of Walcott’s statement
— If you think it’s a problem that Weissmandl is citing Walcott as the source of this plan, but the district has failed to take Walcott’s larger recommendation of appointing an independent election monitor

If any of these things bother you, please call the District Clerk at 845-577-6015 today, and ask her to leave a message with the board: the polling plan is pre-mature and should not move forward. You can also complete our petition here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSecNx6LFAa2PYwfosbPQGBNmoroRywPqmzlBWbE7gVwGMIUBQ/viewform

2) Board Meeting Tomorrow (Tuesday Feb 14)

Many people will be celebrating Valentine’s Day, but some of us will ask for an excuse from holiday obligations to attend this meeting. If you go, please arrive early and fill in the card for public speaking. The meeting is at 7:30 at 105 S. Madison Ave.

We believe that the proposed plan will create confusion and does not make polling places more accessible as recommended by the state monitor. Your presence and comments do make a difference! If you are unable to come this Tuesday, there will be another opportunity on February 28. Please mark your calendar.

3) Candidate’s Forum Thursday

Power of Ten will be helping to introduce those interested in running for school board to the community at a forum This Thursday February 16 at 7:00 PM at the Martin Luther King Center, 110 Bethune Blvd in Spring Valley. The purpose of the forum is to discuss the issues concerning the quality education in our district, and to give those who would like to run for school board in 2016 an opportunity to present themselves to the community.

RSVP to the event on Facebook

There are certainly many people in East Ramapo who are qualified to serve on the board. 

The Center for Public Education says an effective school board member should:

  • inspire parents and other stakeholders to have confidence in the local public schools
  • enhance the mix of skills and backgrounds on the board and help represent the diversity of the community
  • have the commitment to do what is right for all children, even in the face of opposition

Does this sound like someone you know? Or maybe you might be interested yourself?

Those interested in being a candidate should fill in this google form

Betrayal of Trust

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

1. Issues and Candidates Forum
2. Betrayal of Trust
3. Scholarship Opportunity

1) Issues and Candidates Forum

This is your opportunity to hear from the people who are interested in running for school board, and to discuss the issues that will affect our children and our community.  

Thursday February 16 at 7:00 PM at the Martin Luther King Center, 110 Bethune Blvd in Spring Valley.

2) Betrayal of Trust

“Most disturbing, Board appears to favor the interests of private schools over public schools.” These are the words of Hank Greenberg in his report titled “East Ramapo: A School District in Crisis”.

His recommendation for a monitor with veto power was never implemented. Instead, the state appointed another monitor who made recommendations. One of these was to address the trust issue related to the voting process.

The record shows that inconvenient polling places are directly correlated to reduced turnout. Monitor Walcott said the district should add more polling sites to increase participation. One small catch: those areas that lack polling places are in neighborhoods that support public education.

Would the board take the monitor’s advice to “address significant trust issues”? Or would they continue to “favor the interests of private schools”?

The school board has turned the monitor’s recommendation on its head. Instead of opening polling places more accessible to the public education supporters, they have proposed opening more locations in areas dominated by private school supporters. 

There are two upcoming school board meetings where you can express your opinion on this subject. They are February 14 (yes Valentine’s Day!) and February 28. Please come out to one (or both) and express your opinion on the proposed polling place changes. School board meetings are held at 105 S. Madison Ave in Spring Valley, they generally start at 7:30 PM. Its usually smart to check the district website for changes.

3) Scholarship Opportunity

Green Meadow Waldorf School is offering a limited number of scholarships to local students entering Grades 9-12 in the 2017-18 school year. This is a great opportunity for students who otherwise could not afford to attend this local independent school.

You can learn more about Green Meadow at www.gmws.org. There will be Introductory Sessions on February 17, March 10, and April 21.

Please contact Melissa McDonagh, Admissions Director for Grades 1-12, with any questions or to apply. She can be reached at 845.356.2514 x302 or mmcdonagh@gmws.org.

 

Call for Candidates

Power of Ten Update

Special Edition: Call for Candidates

The school board and budget vote will take place on May 16. Strong East Ramapo will be working hard to get the vote out to pass the budget. Power of Ten will work to identify and assist candidates for the school board positions.

There are certainly many people in East Ramapo who are qualified to serve on the board. 

The Center for Public Education says an effective school board member should:

  • inspire parents and other stakeholders to have confidence in the local public schools
  • enhance the mix of skills and backgrounds on the board and help represent the diversity of the community
  • have the commitment to do what is right for all children, even in the face of opposition

Does this sound like someone you know? Or maybe you might be interested yourself?

Those interested in being a candidate should fill in this google form

Two upcoming events:

1) Strong East Ramapo will hold a Volunteer Kickoff event this Thursday, February 2, at Finkelstein Library at 7 p.m. They need YOUR HELP to get out the vote for this year’s CRITICAL school budget vote on May 16. Please let them know you are going by RSVPing here: www.strongeastramapo.org/action

2) Power of Ten will be helping to introduce those interested in running for school board to the community at a forum on Thursday February 16 at 7:00 PM at the Martin Luther King Center, 110 Bethune Blvd in Spring Valley. The purpose of the forum is to discuss the issues concerning the quality education in our district, and to give those who would like to run for school board in 2016 an opportunity to present themselves to the community.

A New Beginning?

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Strong East Ramapo Volunteer Kickoff
2. 2017 Candidates Forum February 16
3. Monitors Report – A New Beginning

1) Strong East Ramapo Volunteer Kickoff

Strong East Ramapo will hold a Volunteer Kickoff event this Thursday, February 2, at Finkelstein Library at 7 p.m.

They need YOUR HELP to get out the vote for this year’s CRITICAL school budget vote on May 16.

Please let them know you are going by RSVPing here: www.strongeastramapo.org/action

2) 2017 Candidates Forum February 16

What kind of person makes a good school board member?

The Center for Public Education says the person should:

  • inspire parents and other stakeholders to have confidence in the local public schools
  • enhance the mix of skills and backgrounds on the board and help represent the diversity of the community
  • have the commitment to do what is right for all children, even in the face of opposition

Does this sound like someone you know? Or maybe you might be interested yourself?

Power of Ten will be helping to introduce those interested in running for school board to the community.

Those interested in being a candidate should fill in this google form

What: 2017 School Board Candidates Forum
Where: Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center, 110 Bethune Blvd, Spring Valley, NY 10977
When: Thursday February 16 at 7:00 PM

The purpose of the forum is to discuss the issues concerning the quality education in our district, and to give those who would like to run for school board in 2016 an opportunity to present themselves to the community.

3) Monitor’s Report

The Monitors appointed by NY State have issued a report, titled “A New Beginning” 

The report includes progress which has been made as a result of state intervention, as well as continuing problems and concerns. The monitors recommend continued oversight by NY State.

I would like to thank every reader of Power of Ten for your continuing activism. It is only because YOU wrote a letter, or made a call, or got on that bus with Strong East Ramapo, or attended a school board meeting or community forum, that we have now turned a corner. There is still a lot of work to be done, but there are many hands and voices ready for action.

The work which is before us at this present time:

  • Hold the superintendent accountable to present a budget that fully funds the educational needs of the students. According to the Monitor’s Report “The district must increase local revenues faster than the tax cap allows if the district is going to restore programs that were cut over the last nine years.” 
  • Get out the vote to pass that budget
  • Elect school board members who are committed to restoring East Ramapo as the best school district in Rockland County.

I know I can count on every one of you to get involved this year. I am looking forward to seeing you at the upcoming events.

Steven White, Editor of The Power of Ten