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.

 

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.

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!!!

 

 

50 Years after Selma, Time to March for Civil Rights Again

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Bus to Albany
2. School Board Election Campaign Event Saturday
3. Protests Continue
4. Call Your Representative
5. Martin Luther King Center Event Sunday

1) Get On This Bus!

On April 28, buses will leave Rockland for Albany, bound to deliver our message of support for the Bill for Oversight for East Ramapo. Fifty years after the march from Selma to Montgomery, students civil right to an education is under attack in East Ramapo. Please join us and our local legislators as we visit Albany to advocate for oversight and change in East Ramapo!

So, take the day off from work. Bring the kids. Bring your neighbors. Bring your friends. If you ever spent a moment asking yourself what you could do that would most help the children to have an opportunity for a better education, THIS IS IT!!!

Sign up right now at http://www.strongeastramapo.org/april28/

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1420180211628079/

2) School Election Update

The school board election is May 19. You can get involved by coming to an informational event. Learn about the issues and how you can get involved. This campaign period is short. All of us will need to participate and solicit others to help us as well. Please ask your friends and neighbors to join us. We need all of you to help communicate with the voting public so they will be aware of how the school boards fiscal mismanagement is destroying our kids future and our home values. This effort is dedicated to providing the information that every voter need to know.

Date: Saturday April 11, 2015
Time: 2:00 – 4:00pm
Location: Hillcrest Firehouse
300 North Main St, Hillcrest NY
Rear of Building entrance and parking

Please RSVP to miller66@optonline.net if you can come

3) Protests Continue

According to the NYS Fiscal Monitor, the East Ramapo Board “appears to favor the interests of private schools over public schools”. If you do not accept second class status, YOU MUST COME OUT and protest at the school board meetings. Invite your friends! Make a sign! If not now, when? 

The next meeting is scheduled for April 14, at 7:30 PM, the protest will be held at 7:00.

The address is 105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley

To receive reminders about meetings or cancellations, text the word POWEROFTEN to 84483 from your mobile phone.

4) Call Your Representative

Both the Assembly and the Senate are not meeting for a few more weeks, so representatives are in their districts for the rest of this week, listening to their constituents.  That means today is the perfect day for you to call your own Assembly Member and/or Senator‘s district office.  (Or to urge the New Yorkers you know to do the same.)
You can call to THANK your representative if he or she has already co-sponsored the bill. That includes Assembly Members Jaffee, Galef, Glick, O’Donnell, Rivera, Solages, Zebrowski, Skoufis, Hooper, Rodriguez, Gottfried, Dinowitz, Paulin, Abinanti, Lavine, Otis, Bichotte, and Senators Carlucci, Krueger, Larkin, Latimer, Savino. 
Otherwise, you can call to URGE your representative to support it.  Here’s what you can say:
Hello!  My name is X, and I am a constituent in your district.  I am calling because I want to urge your office to support [Assembly Bill 5355 / Senate Bill 3821], in favor of state oversight of the East Ramapo School District.  Can I count on your office to support this bill?  I’d love to see the representative’s name as a co-sponsor.
Do not let them tell you that the bill is in the Education Committee and therefore too premature to support.  Many of the names above (like Otis and Savino) are not members of the Committee, nor are from Rockland.  If the offices need more information, they can visit www.strongeastramapo.org.
Send a message to strongeastramapo@gmail.com once you’ve called to let us know what happened.
5) Martin Luther King Center Event

The Board of Directors of the Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center Inc. is pleased to invite you to its 24nd.Annual Awards Benefit Dinner Dance on Sunday, April 12th, 2015, from 4:00 pm – 9:00pm at the Clubhouse at Patriot Hills, 19 Clubhouse Lane, Stony Point, NY.

Click Here For ticket information and to purchase tickets online.

The Center is experiencing severe financial challenges that are the result of the loss of substantial government funding. Each year we honor a select group of individuals and organizations whose commitment to Rockland County, or to the Center, make them deserving of this tribute. We hope that as we celebrate outstanding Rocklanders, we can continue working together to create a stronger, more inclusive, and non-violent “Beloved Community,” that honors the legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.