School Board Loses in Court Again

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Where Do I Vote?
2. School Board Loses in Court Again
3. Candidates Forum May 3
4. Campaign Volunteers Needed

1) Where Do I Vote?

A printing mishap has left many East Ramapo voters puzzled and irritated about where to go vote on Tuesday May 15. The district is blaming the printer, who they say was the “lowest responsible bidder”, but a quick web search reveals no functional website, only a Facebook page with just five posts since the company president died in 2016. Did anyone from the district review the level of service? Is sending out correct information to voters a priority? Will anyone be held accountable?

 Voters can look up their polling place on the district website. The district also says it will send new postcards. 

2) School Board Loses in Court Again

The Spring Valley Branch of the NAACP says that the system of voting in East Ramapo is discriminatory. It has joined parents in a lawsuit to force the district to stop using the “at-large” system. At-large voting has historically been one of the tactics most often used to disenfranchise voters of color.

Because the East Ramapo school board refused to voluntarily adopt a system that doesn’t discriminate against voters of color, the NYCLU filed a lawsuit. The board has hired its usual very expensive lawyers to fight to maintain the racially biased status quo. They filed a “motion to dismiss”.

According to the Journal News, the federal judge in White Plains has denied the school board’s motion, and the lawsuit will proceed.

Of course, the board could avoid losing another costly lawsuit by simply following the law and not discriminating against voters of color. 

Is that too much to ask?

3) Candidates Forum May 3

Hosted by the Spring Valley NAACP
JAMCCAR, Inc. and HAPAC

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018 @ 6:30PM

Louis Kurtz Center
Main Street/Madison Avenue
Spring Valley, NY 10977

4) Campaign Volunteers Needed

You can help get out the word about our wonderful school board candidates. They are: Sabrina Charles-Pierre, Pastor Jose Cintron, and Miriam Moster.

For more information visit their website at https://eastramapotogether.wordpress.com/

 

How the Sausage is Made

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. How the Sausage is Made
2. Walk with Our Candidates

1) How the Sausage is Made

Last week, 500 Power of Ten readers signed a petition to Governor Cuomo asking him to reject Senator Felder’s proposal to exempt Hasidic Jewish children from NY State compulsory education law.

What happened? The  Forward reports: Cuomo Called The Rebbe. The Rebbe Prayed To God. The Budget Deal Got Done.

Shulem Deen asks in the NY Times: Why Is New York Condoning Illiteracy?

NY State Education Department now has to answer Mr. Deen’s question, or else change their mission statement to read: “raise the knowledge, skill, and opportunity of some of the people in New York”

2) Walk with Our Candidates

Our candidates for East Ramapo school board are taking to the street, every weekend, to meet our neighbors and talk about the upcoming budget and board election. Please join them! For details, contact Chevon at chevon0939@gmail.com

To learn about the campaign, and the candidates, visit https://eastramapotogether.wordpress.com/

 

 

Who Opposes Education?

Power of Ten Update

URGENT ACTION – YOUR SIGNATURE REQUIRED:

1. Senator Simcha Felder opposes education. He is holding the NY State budget hostage. His demands are that children not be protected from being denied their right to an education.

https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2018/03/29/with-budget-stalled-felder-pushes-moratorium-for-yeshivas-337723

2. Power of Ten has responded with an urgent petition to Governor Cuomo, Speaker Heastie, and Senate President Flanagan

Over 300 have already signed. Please sign this time-sensitive petition today, and share it widely.

http://poweroften.us/felder-petition/

3. For more information about the children who are affected, see the comprehensive report by YAFFED

Read the executive summary here

Read the full report here

 

Weekend Events

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. March for Our Lives – Saturday
2. Campaign Fundraiser – Sunday
3. Graduation Rates

1) March for Our Lives – Saturday

On March 24, the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the lawn in front of The Rockland County Courthouse to demand that their lives and safety become a priority, and that we end gun violence in our schools and communities.

Saturday, March 24, 10:00 AM

Rockland County Courthouse
1 South Main Street
New City, NY 10956

2) Campaign Fundraiser – Sunday

We want to spend the evening with you! Come for the music of Spyro Gyra’s Jeremy Wall and Motherland Rhythms’ Arthur Lorde, hear from our 2018 candidates, enjoy light refreshments, and help us reach our $5,000 goal for campaign supplies. Details and RSVP HERE, donation info and donate online HERE.

East Ramapo 2018 Campaign Fundraiser
Sunday, March 25th, 2018 at 5 PM
The Nagin Residence: 23 Dogwood Lane, Pomona, NY
Featuring Music by Spyro Gyra’s Jeremy Wall and Motherland Rhythms’ Arthur Lorde
Light refreshments will be served

3) Graduation Rates

by Andrew Mandel:

New York State released district graduation rates last month (data.nysed.gov), and there’s good news — and urgent news. 75% of African-American/Black students graduated from East Ramapo in 2017, which is up from last year and comes close the overall state average of 80% for all students, regardless of background. While we need to keep growing this number, as well as the percentage of students receiving Advanced Regents diplomas (12 percent now), the continued climb is encouraging.

This growth stands in stark contrast to a dire situation with our Latino/Hispanic students, where graduation rates fell from 52 to 37 percent this year (with 7 percent earning a Regents diploma with advanced distinction). We know all children are capable of achieving at high levels! In other districts with large Latino/Hispanic and low-income populations, the numbers are very different: just across the river, 62 percent of Latino students in Ossining — and 81 percent of Latino students in Port Chester (with 22 percent earning an Advanced Regents diploma) – graduated last June. We must therefore understand what is causing our decline, and we ought to determine what programs, services and training are happening in places like Port Chester, so that we can learn how we can concentrate our financial and instructional resources differently. Our 2018-19 budget must reflect these needs. 

 

Our 2018 Candidates

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Our 2018 Candidates
2. Pledge Your Vote
3. March 25 Fundraiser

1) Our 2018 Candidates

Thanks to much hard work by the candidates from previous years, and all the folks who came to our forum last month, we have three very inspiring people who are running for school board this year!

They are: Sabrina Charles-Pierre, Reverend Jose Cintron and Miriam Moster.

You can learn all about them HERE

2) Pledge Your Vote

Strong East Ramapo is doing a get out the vote campaign again this year. It starts with you pledging to cast your vote.

Make the pledge HERE

3) March 25 Fundraiser

We want to spend the evening with you! Come for the music of Spyro Gyra’s Jeremy Wall and Motherland Rhythms’ Arthur Lorde, hear from our 2018 candidates, enjoy light refreshments, and help us reach our $5,000 goal for campaign supplies. Details and RSVP HERE, donation info and donate online HERE.

 

Your Signature of Support

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Statement of Support
2. Candidates Forum

1) Statement of Support

Strong East Ramapo has created a statement of support for the NAACP/NYCLU East Ramapo ward system action.

Please go to www.strongeastramapo.org to register your support for a ward system in East Ramapo.

2) Candidates Forum

Come out on Tuesday, February 6 to a public forum to meet the potential candidates for this year’s school board election.

There are certainly many people in East Ramapo who are qualified to serve on the board. Maybe someone you know? Or maybe you might be interested yourself?

Those interested in being a candidate please fill out This Online Form. Your answers will be shared at the forum.

What: Candidates Forum
When: Tuesday, Feb 6 at 7:00 PM
Where: MLK Center, 110 Bethune Blvd in Spring Valley

 

 

Call for Candidates

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Call for Candidates
2. Potential Polling Place Changes
3. Ward System Update

1) Call for Candidates

The school board and budget vote will take place on May 15. 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 please contact steve@poweroften.us

A public forum will be held in the first week of February for the public to meet the potential candidates.

2) Potential Polling Place Changes

Three years ago, Monitor Walcott recommended that an independent election monitor oversee the election process, including designating new polling places. This did not happen. Last year, two new polling places were proposed by the District Clerk, both of which were located in areas where most children are sent to yeshivas.This was not received well by advocates for more resources for public education. Over the past 3 months, a committee led by the District Clerk has been discussing possible changes. The committee included some poll workers, the NYSED monitor, some opponents of increased resources for public education, and some education advocates, including myself. 

Location of polling places can influence voter turnout. Factors which affect turnout include confusion when the school polling place is different from the November polling place, distance to the poll, and finding parking. These may be reasons that voters in the Clarkstown and Haverstraw sections of the district have the lowest turnout.

I provided the committee with a plan to balance the polls from the very first meeting. 

This plan added polls in Haverstraw and Clarkstown, and moved the main location for Spring Valley voters (who support more resources for public education at a higher rate than any other voters in Rockland) to St. Josephs, which is where they vote in November elections, and also the Hillcrest Firehouse, which is where most Hillcrest voters (also strong public school advocates) vote in the November elections. 

Both the Haverstraw and the St. Joseph’s locations were left out of the plans which were sent to the board. St. Joseph’s was not included in any of the three final options because a concern was raised about Orthodox Jews who may have a religious objection. However, NY State Election Law Section 11-300 allows for voting at an alternative location when  “It is against my religious scruples to vote at a polling place located in a premises used for religious purposes.” This option would only apply to a very few people, if any, based on the areas which would be assigned to the St. Joseph’s poll. 

The final decision is with the board. They could include none, some, or all of the polls which are most likely to be used by supporters of public education. It has been shown that they will listen to public opinion, sometimes.

The next board meeting is Tuesday. Please come and express your preference.

When: Tuesday, January 23 at 7:30 PM

Where: 105 South Madison Avenue, Spring Valley

3) Ward System Update

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) with Latham & Watkins LLP, on behalf of the Spring Valley Branch of the NAACP and other plaintiffs, has filed a law suit in federal court challenging the at-large method of electing members of the East Ramapo Central School District Board of Education. The suit claims the at-large system unlawfully denies black and Latino citizens in the District an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.

Under this system, board members are elected by all the voters of the school district rather than voters from individual geographic areas. This allows the majority community—which is white, lives close together, and tends to vote as a political bloc favoring private school education—to control eight of the board’s nine seats. Communities of color, who tend to vote as a bloc for candidates favoring investment in public schools, have not seen their candidates of choice win a contested seat since 2007.

Judge Cathy Seibel of the Southern District of New York is presiding. NYCLU-Latham has requested a preliminary injunction to postpone the scheduled May 2018 board election until after the Court rules on the law suit. The District is opposing the preliminary injunction motion. The Court has scheduled the preliminary injunction hearing (which is similar to a trial) to begin on April 12th. Thus, we expect to know if the Judge intends to halt the election and implement a new voting system in the District before the May 15th elections take place.

 

MLK Weekend: Where will you be?

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Strong East Ramapo Sunday Supper
2. MLK Day Event at Ramapo High School
3. Statement of Support
4. Education Activist for NY Senate

1) Strong East Ramapo Sunday Supper

Strong East Ramapo is hosting a free dinner where people can learn about the ward system and how we can all work together for better education for all children. Power of Ten will be there too, and we will be asking if anyone is interested in volunteering for this year’s campaign to elect public school supporters to East Ramapo’s school board in May.

When: Sunday, Jan. 14th, 6:00 PM
Where: The Hillcrest Fire House, 371 North Main St. (Route 45), in Spring Valley.

The event includes a free dinner, so please RSVP to strongeastramapo@gmail.com, or on Facebook 

2) MLK Day Celebration Monday

The Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center will hold its annual celebration of the life of Dr. King on Monday, January 15th at 3:00 PM at Ramapo High School.

The theme this year is “Our Community, United in Love, Peace, and Justice.”

As always there will be fantastic entertainment, food, and exciting speakers. The event is free. 

3) Statement of Support

Strong East Ramapo is asking you to sign their statement of support for the ward system in East Ramapo. Please go to www.strongeastramapo.org and add your name.

4) Education Activist for NY Senate

Education Activist Naftuli Moster, the founder of YAFFED (Young Advocates for Fair Education) is considering running for the NY Senate. You can learn all about him and his potential campaign on his Facebook page, or in this excellent article in The Forward.

Education or Incarceration?

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Strong East Ramapo Event Jan 14
2. MLK Day Event at Ramapo High School
3. Statement of Support
4. Education or Incarceration

1) Strong East Ramapo Event

Strong East Ramapo is hosting a a fun event where people can learn about the ward system, meet others, and helped bring about change. Power of Ten will be there too, and we will be asking if anyone is interested in volunteering for this year’s campaign to elect public school supporters to East Ramapo’s school board in May.

When: Sunday, Jan. 14th, 6 pm
Where: The Hillcrest Fire House, 371 North Main St. (Route 45), in Spring Valley.

There will be a free dinner, so please RSVP to strongeastramapo@gmail.com by January 7.

2) MLK Day Event at Ramapo High School

The Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center will hold its annual celebration of the life of Dr. King on Monday, January 15th at 3:00 PM at Ramapo High School. As always there will be fantastic entertainment, food, and exciting speakers. The event is free. 

3) Statement of Support

Strong East Ramapo is asking you to sign their statement of support for the ward system in East Ramapo. Please go to www.strongeastramapo.org and add your name.

4) Education or Incarceration?

In our struggle to improve the quality of education in East Ramapo schools, it has often been said that a failure to educate will result in a need to incarcerate.  This was actually used as a defense in the trial of one local resident, who served eight years in prison for a crime he says was directly related to being deprived of a quality education.

When he took the stand, his defense lawyer questioned him about how the lack of education had led to his becoming a defendant in this criminal trial:

Lawyer: Let’s talk about you. Specifically, let’s talk about your education. How many years of formal nonreligious education did you take?

Defendant: I — I graduated eighth grade.

Lawyer: What other education in the rabbinical or religious sense have you had?

Defendant: Most of my studies, I went to — I went to — are schools that have English — a Jewish program in the morning and then English program in the afternoon. And then I went to high school, a religious program(…).

The defendant, Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, currently of Monsey, NY, served eight years of a 27 year term in prison before being released by President Trump.  The cost to society from the failure to educate just this one individual was high.  There are the millions of dollars spent on the trial and the prison.  There was all the harm to the workers and the town and the company he was in charge of.  He was running a meat packing plant.  Accidents at the plant resulted in amputations.  Child labor was common.  The closing of the plant hurt the town and disrupted the supply of kosher meat throughout the whole country.  All of this caused by incompetence due to lack of education.

Thousands of children still languish in schools that don’t educate. The burden on our society is growing. It is only political will that is lacking. How will future generations judge those who sat by and did nothing? Please support www.Yaffed.org, an organization that is working for better education. Together, we can end the yeshiva to prison pipeline.