Ramapo Student: We Cannot Cope!

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. News from Strong East Ramapo
2. School Board Meeting October 13

3. News from East Ramapo Underground
4. Introducing a New Power of Ten Section!

1) News from Strong East Ramapo

IMPORTANT DATES (Courtesy of Strong East Ramapo)
Thursday, October 1 at 7 p.m.
Monitors Dennis Walcott, Monica George-Fields and John Sipple will be hosting a community forum, so please come with your questions and comments about the East Ramapo crisis.  Some news sources have gotten it wrong, but the correct address is the Town of Ramapo Cultural Arts Center, 64 North Main Street, Spring Valley, as posted on the monitors’ new blog.
Saturday, October 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
CEJJES Institute presents an education summit: Educating Young Men of Color for Success. Featuring Dr. Robert Moses of The Algebra Project, Mr. David Banks of the Eagle Academy, and Dr. Edmund T. Gordon of The University of Texas, Austin. The event will be at RCC, 145 College Rd, Suffern, NY. More info please contact skyviewra@yahoo.com.
Tuesday, November 3: Election Day
Jacques Michel, a member of the Rockland Clergy for Social Justice who supported the East Ramapo oversight bill, is running to serve on the Rockland County Legislature against incumbent and former school board president Aron Wieder, who actively lobbied against oversight.

2) School Board Meeting October 13

Tuesday October 13 at 7:00 PM

The next school board meeting will be at the central administration building. 105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley. Please make every effort to attend!

3) News from East Ramapo Underground

East Ramapo Underground is sharing this article from the Asbury Park Press: Charges filed against Lakewood special-ed official which details how the Monitor (with veto power) in New Jersey’s Lakewood School District is pursuing charges against a district official who allegedly illegally used public education dollars to pay for yeshiva education. East Ramapo officials were found by the state education department to be doing exactly the same thing, but there were no consequences. This is why a monitor with veto power is needed in East Ramapo!  

4) New in Power of Ten: The Student Essay Section

East Ramapo=We Cannot Cope

by Ellen Sue Cola
Ramapo High School Class of 2016

It is no secret that there is work to be done in the East Ramapo Central School District. We are fully aware that parents, teachers, and various advocates are outraged over the circumstances at hand—but what about the students? How are the students coping with the challenges they face on a day to day basis? Well, they aren’t. Students cannot cope with the frustrations and limitations that the school board imposes on them.

Starting at the elementary level, students are creatively deprived. Art and music are expressive arts that allow a child (or anyone for that matter) to show individuality and personality without saying one word. Without such activities offered at a crucial creative time for a child, the child is taught that such art and creativity does not matter and is vain. The students who have a taste for the arts are unable to express him or herself and are forced to become someone they do not want to be.

Vincent Van Gogh, one of the greatest artists to ever live, once said, “I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream.” How do we expect the children of the East Ramapo Central School District to paint their dreams when they do not have paint or paintbrushes? An anonymous musician once said, “Music is the voice of the soul.” Does that mean that the students’ voices of East Ramapo are silenced when they have no music?

One sad story that I heard about the disadvantages of the elementary children was from an older sibling of a 2nd grader at Hempstead Elementary School. On her mother’s birthday, she wanted to make a homemade birthday card with the help of her brother to give to their mother when she came home from work. After providing paper and crayons to her brother, she told him to draw a flower on the inside of the card. After a few minutes, she went to check on her brother to see how the flower came out; however, all that was on the paper was the stem (a straight green line). She asked her brother why he did not finish the drawing and he embarrassingly responded “I do not know how to draw a flower.” This same young boy wanted to become a saxophone player but with his family’s low income (which is unable to afford outside classes) and the district’s “inability” to provide such services, this young boy has to wait five years to even touch a saxophone. This young boy is unable to cope with his circumstances, just like many (if not all) of the other students in the elementary schools.

Moving on to the middle school, problems linger there as well. A Pomona Middle School 8th grader “hates 9th period.” For participating in a program, the school received funds to run a longer school day. With these funds, the school was able to provide sports and music to the students. Sounds like a good plan, right? However, with the longer school day, the school implemented a 9th period (one more than the usual 8 period day). In this period, students are to do homework; however, many students either do nothing in this period or simply skip this period because they resent it. Students rather do homework in the comfort of their home.

This 8th grader argues that the funds that the district uses elsewhere could be used for sports and music so that the 9th period would be no more. She continues to explain that ever since the longer day was implemented, she has not been able to see her mother as often as she would like to. Before, when she came from school she was able to spend about an hour with her mother before she went to work. Now, the student barely sees her mother because when she comes home from school, her mother is going to work. How could a young girl cope with such circumstances?

Lastly, the high schools in the East Ramapo Central School District face numerous challenges and obstacles. High school is that time in a student’s life when they find out what they enjoy best and later they pursue that enjoyment in college. However, the district makes it hard for a student to do so with the limited resources offered. Students who would love to be on a junior varsity girls tennis team are unable to. Boys that would love to play volleyball are told they can not. Aspiring fashion designers have no club to join. Parenting classes are not offered as they once were in the district. Aspiring businessmen and businesswoman are not offered any classes or activities to prepare them for such endeavors. Past rivalry between the two high schools in girls volleyball, tennis, and soccer cannot be enjoyed anymore due to the combination of school sports.

An 11th grader from Ramapo High School was unable to play the viola for an entire year because the orchestra class was not offered when she was available to take it. This young girl had to decide whether or not to take a class that would help her in her medical field career or take a class where she would play an instrument she loved. If the class was offered more times a day, then maybe she would not have to make such a hard decision. With only one music teacher (two including the chorus teacher) in the entire school of 4 different grade levels, the task seems nearly impossible.

In September 2015, the district monitor stated that 14% of East Ramapo students are college ready. This may be because students find no interest in school due to the lack of resources and activities that interest him or her. High school students should not be asked to cope with such dilemmas. Adults should ensure that students have adequate resources so they can focus on their future.

At the end of the day, pretending that students can just “cope” with adversity is not an option. Changes can be made if the adults are committed and willing to do whatever it takes for the future generation. So, yes, parents, teachers, advocates, AND students are all in this together— to repair East Ramapo and save our schools.

Explosive Reports: Public and Yeshiva Students All Victims in East Ramapo

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Monitors Report: District in Distress
2. Picnic Success!
3. Journal News Exposes Neglect in East Ramapo Yeshivas
4. New Questions About Old Treasurer

1) Monitors Report: District in Distress

On Wednesday, September 16, in damning detail, the East Ramapo Monitors presented their findings and actions thus far. The news that only 14% of our youth are leaving high school ready for college is only one of the chilling facts presented by the monitors. A webcast of the presentation is available on the Regents website (go to minute 23:30 for the beginning of the East Ramapo discussion).

The monitors will be holding a community forum on Thursday, October 1 at 7 p.m. at the Cultural Arts Center, 64 N. Main Street in Spring Valley, the public is invited.

2) Picnic Success!

Despite a rainy forecast (and some actual rain) over 100 people attended our Family Picnic. We had delicious food, great music, and honored some of the heroes of our movement. We also raised over $2,000 for Advocates for Justice! Pictures and videos are available at https://www.facebook.com/Power-of-Ten-222126104511971.

If you missed the picnic, please consider making your donation to Advocates for Justice at http://www.advocatesforjustice.net/east-ramapo.html.

Justice is coming, and YOU can make it happen!

3) Journal News Exposes Neglect in East Ramapo Yeshivas

A new report by investigative journalist Adrienne Sanders of the Rockland Journal News blows open a previously unknown world of educational neglect in East Ramapo. Featuring riveting testimonial videos by former yeshiva students, Ms. Sanders details a story of shocking neglect of our most vulnerable population. Most shocking of all is the complicity of the East Ramapo school administration, which is charged with preventing educational neglect and enforcing the truancy laws. Laura Barbieri of  Advocates for Justice is also interviewed.

A similar investigation is being conducted into education at NYC yeshivas, led by Young Advocates for Fair Education.

The Jewish Week is also covering this story, with an excellent piece by Shulem Deen: Chasidic Schools Ensure Ignorance And Poverty

4) New Questions About Old Treasurer

Eight years ago, the Assistant Superintendent of Finance did all the bookkeeping for the district. The school board president at that time was Nathan Rothschild. Elected by the ultra-Orthodox bloc vote, he did not need to provide the public with his educational experience. Only after he was convicted and sentenced to federal prison did we learn he did not have a high school diploma. While it is not required for a school board trustee to have graduated from school, it is something the public will usually want to know about a candidate before giving him or her their vote.

One of the many questionable activities during Mr. Rothschild’s tenure was the appointment of a paid treasurer; an extra cost to the district since the work had previously been done at no extra cost by the assistant superintendent of finance. The treasurer, Israel Bier, has been receiving salary and benefits for eight years. During that time, there were numerous complaints regarding the quality of his work. Over and over, his numbers just did not add up.

Activists who requested Mr. Bier’s qualifications received highly redacted documents. A new report by Failed Messiah has uncovered that Mr. Bier had no formal education in accounting when he was hired. His entire college education is reported as “Talmudical Studies” at Bais Medrash Elyon in Monsey. This college only offers one degree program, Talmudical Studies, for a tuition of $7,800, but 100% of the 30 students who attend receive an average of $10,400 in state and federal financial aid, according to www.CampusExplorer.com. Perhaps that is the accounting lesson they learn there!

The school district, despite having been cited by previous monitor Greenberg for failure to follow NY open government laws, and despite have subsequently received training from the Committee on Open Government, and despite the current presence of a new monitoring team, continues to redact politically embarrassing information from documents that the public has a right to see.

Our educational tax dollars have been wasted on an unqualified an incompetent treasurer whose job was done at no cost to the district prior to his arrival. They have been wasted on a superintendent of schools who has zero cultural competence for the student body he serves and whose administration has received the lowest grade possible from the state education department. The Chancellor herself has called for him to be replaced.

The board is supposedly “collaborating” with the new monitor team. If that is true, then the new monitor team is equally responsible for all that continues to be wrong with our district, or to publicly profess where the “collaboration” ends. If the treasurer is unqualified, and the board is responsible for continuing his paycheck, then any “collaborator” with the board is just as responsible. I think the public has been patient enough. Bier must go. Klein must go. We need a new vision for our children this year, before more irrevocable harm is done.


Vote Today; Saturday Picnic Rain or Shine; Unforgettable Veteran at board meeting

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Vote Today
2. Saturday’s Picnic Rain or Shine
3. Voice of a Veteran

1) Vote Today

East Ramapo has become a very important political campaign issue in recent years. Informing the readers about candidates who have participated in our struggle is part of Power of Ten’s focus on East Ramapo issues.

Rev. Jacques Michel is running for legislator in District 13. Rev. Michel has passed legislation opposing the closing of elementary schools. He participated in rallies along with parents. His opponent is Aron Wieder.  Mr. Wieder  spearheaded the effort to block legislation that would have provided a check on the actions of the school board. 

Betty Carmand is running for Legislature in District 8. Betty has been one of the people at the center of our struggle for a long time. She is a plaintiff in the civil rights lawsuit. She helped to recruit others to join that lawsuit. Betty has also filed appeals with the state education department. Her opponent is Toney Earl. He supported the bill for a state monitor. 

2) Saturday’s Picnic Rain or Shine

There is plenty of shelter from the rain at Deerkill Day Camp. We are looking forward to sharing a nice picnic, some fantastic music, and celebrating our accomplishments. We will also be raising funds for Advocates for Justice.

If you cannot attend, you can still contribute. Just go to www.poweroften.us and click “Support Our Lawsuit”.

3) Voice of a Veteran

David Lipman, decorated WWII Veteran and ERCSD alum, class of 1939, came to the school board meeting on Tuesday night. What he said is unforgettable.


Picnic and Family Fun Day Sept 12

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Picnic and Family Fun Day Sept 12
2. Join the Delegation to Long Island Sept 8
3. Beloved School Board President Dies
4. Next Board Meeting and Protest Sept 8
5. East Ramapo Parents Will Sue NY State

1) Picnic and Family Fun Day Sept 12

Come and enjoy an afternoon with friends, food, and music! Power of ten and Padres Unidos de East Ramapo will honor three champions of our struggle for quality education for the children of East Ramapo. We will celebrate the amazing work that has been done by Advocates for Justice, the public interest, not-for-profit law firm that has brought a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of our students and taxpayers of East Ramapo, and help them to raise some much needed funds.

Saturday SEPT 12 FROM 1:00 – 5:00 PM

Honorees: Hon. Rodnyse Bichotte, NYS Assembly District 42; Andrew Mandel, Strong East Ramapo; Robert Rhodes, Preserve Ramapo.

Entertainment: Michel Lemorin and His Afro-Caribbean Quintet, Musicos Unidos – Padres de East Ramapo, Student Musicians of East Ramapo and Green Meadow Schools.

$5.00 Taxi Service From Spring Valley by: America Latina Taxi 845-578-1616.

Potluck Style Picnic: Bring A Dish To Share Or An Item For The Grill.

Activities include Live Music, Soccer, Basketball, Playground, Volleyball.

If you would like to help with this event, please contact steve@poweroften.us

Join the event on Facebook

2) Join the Delegation to Long Island Sept 8

SIGN UP TODAY — Calling all East Ramapo advocates to join us for our trip to Long Island on Tuesday, September 8, where we will be building support in advance of the new legislative session in January. Members of a local teachers union, of a local synagogue, and at least one superintendent in Suffolk County are already scheduled to greet us and pledge their willingness to lobby their legislators on our behalf. We will be gathering at 2 p.m. at Memorial Park and travel via carpools to Long Island. Sign up today: www.strongeastramapo.org/action

3) Beloved School Board President Dies

Georgine Hyde, whose legacy epitomizes what a school board trustee should be, passed away on August 28, 2015. She served from 1969 to 2005, when the growing ultra-orthodox bloc vote ousted her and took control of the district.

The Journal News: Georgine Hyde, Holocaust survivor, ex-E. Ramapo board president dies

4) Next Board Meeting and Protest Sept 8

The whole world is watching. 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?

September 8, at 7:00 PM
Chestnut Ridge Middle School
892 Route 45, Chestnut Ridge, NY.

5) East Ramapo Parents Will Sue NY State

New City PATCH: Parents Threaten to Sue State over East Ramapo if Corrections Aren’t Immediate