Last Chance!

Power of Ten Update
Special Edition: Last Chance to Comment!

The comment period for the educational equivalency regulations ends Sept 2.

It literally takes only seconds to submit a comment at www.yaffed.org

Don’t miss this chance to make your voice heard!

Assembly Members Jaffee and Zebrowski, Senator Carlucci , and County Executive Ed Day ALL support the regulations!

Rockland County Times: Complete Press Conference

Also: Respected Educator Alan Singer has added his voice to the call for better regulations: NYS Religious Schools Must Be Made to Obey the Law

Even More: Respected Author and former teacher at Yeshiva Avir Yakov, Shulem Deen has written an amazing open letter on this topic: OPEN LETTER TO NYS BOARD OF REGENTS REGARDING HASIDIC EDUCATION

Please don’t let Sept 3 come along without doing your part to help EVERY child get the education that is their human right!

Submit your comment today at www.yaffed.org

 

 

Special Edition: Urgent Action Required! September 2 Deadline!

Power of Ten Update
Special Edition: Urgent Action Required! September 2 Deadline!

  • You are a Power of Ten reader – that means you understand the value of education.
  • You are a Power of Ten reader – that means you believe education is a human right for every child.
  • You are a Power of Ten reader – that means you understand that indifference is not an option.

That’s why I am calling on you today to make your voice heard, to express your opinion about the absolute necessity of universal education to the New York State Education Department.

The Education Department is asking for comments on proposed regulations to make sure every private school provides instruction in English, Math, Science, and Social Studies. You may be surprised to hear that this is even necessary, but in fact there are many children who are not being offered even the basics. It’s illegal in New York, but without regulations, the law is being ignored.

So, Power of Ten readers, its up to us to make our voices heard!

Everything you need to know to take action is only a click away: https://www.yaffed.org/eduregulations

You can just click to add a generic comment, or you can tailor your comments based on your own experience.

If you have a moment and want to read my comment, here it is: https://poweroften.us/steves-comments/

You may have some personal experience that will make your comment unique and persuasive. But don’t the the perfect be the enemy of the good! You can submit a generic comment in one click, and then submit your own more detailed comment later.

But, in any case, remember the deadline is September 2! 

It is extremely important that everyone participates in this action!

https://www.yaffed.org/eduregulations

 

 

Education is a Human Right!

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Education is a Human Right!
2. Let the Good Times Roll on July 28th!
3. Extended Reading

1) Education is a Human Right

The Abidjan Principles describe the human rights obligations of States to provide public education and to regulate
private involvement in education. They include BOTH the obligation of states to “provide free, public education of the highest attainable quality”, AND to “take all effective measures, including particularly the adoption and enforcement of effective regulatory measures, to ensure the realisation of the right to education where private actors are involved in the provision of education.”

These rights are already promised in the NY State Constitution and laws. But there is a huge gap in the regulatory system to make these promises a reality for children in New York.

Right now, the NY State Education Department is asking for comments on their proposed regulations to ensure the rights of children.

YOU can find more info and join the call for better regulations at: https://www.yaffed.org/eduregulations

2) Let the Good Times Roll on July 28th!

Summer, Sand & Soul is two parties in one!

Outside, it’s a relaxed summer vibe on the deck of Pier 701 – featuring the largest waterfront deck in the region – with its own private beach.

Inside, we’re bringing Cee Songbird and the Sound Travelers, playing soul, funk, and R&B classics, alternating sets with DJ’s Tee Groove and Easy Mike spinning your favorite jams.

Tickets will include entertainment, a welcome drink, and full buffet of summer favorites (taco bar, blackened fish, salads, a strawberry shortcake bar, beverages and more)! All proceeds will go directly to support the Martin Luther King Center’s After School and Summer Programs

Get Your Tickets Today!

3) Extended Reading

Many Power of Ten Readers expressed interest in more extended reading articles.

In this issue, I refer you to the newsletter of The Janusz Korczak Association of the USA.

I hope you enjoy it!

 

Reminder: Vote Tuesday!

Power of Ten Update
Special Issue: Vote June 25

What happens in local elections does affect our situation in the schools. It is important for us all to go out and vote. To vote in a party primary election, you need to be a member of that party.

Two races in local elections in this year’s Democratic Primary are particularly worth noting:

Vivian Street is running for Rockland County Legislature in District 13. This seat is currently held by Aron Wieder, who has used the position to actively oppose oversight for East Ramapo schools, both public and non-public. If you are registered Democratic and live in LD-13, you can vote for Vivian. If you are not, you can still help her, visit her website for details.

Ken Zebrowski is running for District Attorney. He is currently serving as a NY State Assembly member. In the Assembly he has consistently supported better education for our children, including funding for All-day Kindergarten, and increased oversight of both public and non-public schools. Every Registered Democrat in Rockland County can vote for Ken on June 25!

 

Vote on June 25!

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Vote June 25
2. Power of Ten Facebook Group
3. Extended Reading

1) Vote June 25

What happens in local elections does affect our situation in the schools. It is important for us all to go out and vote. To vote in a party primary election, you need to be a member of that party.

Two races in local elections in this year’s Democratic Primary are particularly worth noting:

Vivian Street is running for Rockland County Legislature in District 13. This seat is currently held by Aron Wieder, who has used the position to actively oppose oversight for East Ramapo schools, both public and non-public. If you are registered Democratic and live in LD-13, you can vote for Vivian. If you are not, you can still help her, visit her website for details.

Ken Zebrowski is running for District Attorney. He is currently serving as a NY State Assembly member. In the Assembly he has consistently supported better education for our children, including funding for All-day Kindergarten, and increased oversight of both public and non-public schools. Every Registered Democrat in Rockland County can vote for Ken on June 25!

2) Power of Ten Facebook Group

There are many more things happening in East Ramapo than are reported in this newsletter. If you would like to keep up with the latest, you might want to join the Power of Ten Facebook group. There you will see many posts about happenings in the district, including the many wonderful events put on by the students. School board member Sabrina Charles-Pierre does a fantastic job reporting on all the wonderful activities and achievements of our students. Videos of school board meetings and commentary from Tony Luciano are also regularly shared there. 

Here’s the link to the group page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/120338314981/4

3) Extended Reading

Are you thirsty for a deeper look into the fundamental issues that affect our educational system? Beyond the terse reporting of Power of Ten and the daily chatter of Facebook, there is a world of research, analysis, and reporting.

Extended Reading Article: The growth mindset problem

If you like this new section, drop me a line at steve@poweroften.us. I’ll try to find another interesting article to share in each future edition!

Ashley Leveille Elected!

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Ashley Leveille Elected!
2. The Budget Passes!
3. Transportation Discrimination
4. Upcoming Community Events

1) Ashley Leveille Elected!

Thanks to all of those who came out and voted, we now have a new school board member!

Ashley has a child who is a student in the district, she is a professional educator, and she has goals and expectations for our district.

Let’s all join in congratulating her!

2) The Budget Passes!

East Ramapo has had more failed budgets than any other district in NY State, including just last year. This is a direct result of having a large voting bloc that doesn’t use public schools.

Public school parents and supporters in East Ramapo have much higher turnout and support for budgets than most other districts, but that is not usually enough to pass the budget in a district where the bloc votes 93% NO.

This year, the bloc vote stayed home for the school budget vote. This is because a deal was made to include $900,000 increase in payments to non-public transportation. A large part of this money is in direct payments to yeshivas that provide their own busing. 

3) Transportation Discrimination

It appears that the district is going to go through with the changes to the school schedules. The new schedule will mean more crowded buses and longer transit times. Some students may need to be at the bus stop by 6:15 AM. 

While the justification given for this inconvenience is financial, the bottom line has not been made public. 

The district says there will be a savings of $4.6 million. However, this is an expense that is reimbursed by the state at about 75%. Therefore, the associated state aid would be reduced by about $3.45 million, leaving only $1.15 million savings to the district. The state says the additional costs for staff will be $732,000 in 2019-20, this is scheduled to increase the next year by 25-33%. The proposed savings is thus barely more than the expected cost of extra staff in the second year. 

At the same time the district is inflicting this inconvenience on public school students, it is increasing its payments to non-public schools that provide courtesy busing for their students. The $900,000 included in this year’s budget is not eligible for state reimbursement, it comes entirely at the expense of public school programming. 

The school board continues to falsely claim it cannot address the skyrocketing costs of gender-segregated and courtesy busing for non-public schools.

As reported in Power of Ten on May 5, the school district can align busing schedules for non-public schools to save costs. 

Why has the school district chosen to create serious problems for public school children and families, and ignore skyrocketing costs associated with paying non-public schools to run their bus system?

The Greenberg report said: “Most disturbing, Board appears to favor the interests of private schools over public schools.” He said there had been “No meaningful effort made to distribute pain of deep budget cuts fairly among private and public schools.”

4) Upcoming Community Events

June 2: CUPON Spaghetti Dinner, Fundraiser, and Recognition Event
Join us for an informal, relaxing afternoon of good food and great company!
Sunday, June 2, 2019, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
At the Hillcrest Firehouse, 374 North Main Street, Hillcrest NY
Adults:  $ 40.00      Children under 12:   $15.00
Tickets May Be Purchased online at: https://cupondinner.ezevent.com/

June 4: Finklestein Memorial Library Budget and Trustee Vote
Tuesday, June 4 from 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM
24 Chestnut Street, Spring Valley
More info: www.FinkelsteinLibrary.org

June 9: MLK Center Brick Campaign Launch
Sunday, June 4 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
110 Bethune Blvd, Spring Valley
More info: https://www.mlkmpc.org/

Vote Tuesday May 21

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Vote Tuesday May 21
2. Two Candidates
3. Write-in Eric Goodwin

1) Vote Tuesday May 21

Here’s what you need to know, when you go vote on May 21:

There are three seats open, but we have only two candidates this year.

One of our candidates, Eric Goodwin, is a write-in

The resulting ballot looks like this:

2) Two Candidates

Over the years, different groups have formed to assist and coordinate the campaigns of school board candidates. Some years they are very well organized, some years less. This year there were four people who expressed interest in running through the public process. One had to decline due to a family emergency, and the remaining three met and chose which seats they would run for. This is probably the most important part of the process, because candidates must choose a seat before gathering petitions, and so they must coordinate to avoid running against each other by accident.

Right before petitions were due, the candidate who was petitioning for the seat of trustee Weissmandl was contacted by someone who offered to hand in petitions for him for the seat of trustee Germain. He was told that if he ran for that seat, he would have the support of the “Jewish community”. It appears that the caller was serious, because petitions were submitted as promised, mostly signed by men from New Square. The petitions we made for the third seat were thus not submitted, and this is why we only have two candidates this year.

3) Write-in Eric Goodwin

Another unusual problem has arisen due to lack of sufficient signatures for Eric Goodwin. Several factors contributed to this failure, probably the biggest is the late start we got this year. However, the ballots do have a provision for a write-in candidate, and so we are encouraging people to do that. Fortunately, he has an easy name!

Join Us Saturday!

Power of Ten Update
Power of Ten Special Edition:

Last Chance: Canvassing Opportunities

Join our candidates as we go door to door talking to voters! 

May 18 we will meet in the parking lot at the 7-11, 65 Kennedy Dr, Spring Valley, first shift at 11:00 AM and second shift at 1:00 PM.

Wear your most comfortable shoes and your warmest smile!

Our candidates are Ashley Leveille and Eric Goodwin.

Eric Goodwin is a write in candidate in the first column.

Ashley Leveille is in the first row, second column.

Here is the sample ballot:

The Ballot

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. The Ballot
2. Two Candidates
3. Write-in Eric Goodwin

1) The Ballot

Several readers have already gotten their absentee ballots (absentee ballot applications must be received by the District Clerk by Tuesday, May 14) and are asking how to fill them in for our candidates. Here’s what you need to know, whether you are voting by absentee or at the polls on May 21:

    • There are three seats open, but we have only two candidates this year.
    • One of our candidates, Eric Goodwin, is a write-in

The resulting ballot looks like this:

2) Two Candidates

Over the years, different groups have formed to assist and coordinate the campaigns of school board candidates. Some years they are very well organized, some years less. This year there were four people who expressed interest in running through the public process. One had to decline due to a family emergency, and the remaining three met and chose which seats they would run for. This is probably the most important part of the process, because candidates must choose a seat before gathering petitions, and so they must coordinate to avoid running against each other by accident.

Right before petitions were due, the candidate who petitioning for the seat of trustee Weissmandl was contacted by someone who offered to hand in petitions for him for the seat of trustee Germain. He was told that if he ran for that seat, he would have the support of the “Jewish community”. It appears that the caller was serious, because petitions were submitted as promised, mostly signed by men from New Square. The petitions we made for the third seat were thus not submitted, and this is why we only have two candidates this year.

3) Write-in Eric Goodwin

Another unusual problem has arisen due to lack of sufficient signatures for Eric Goodwin. Several factors contributed to this failure, probably the biggest is the late start we got this year. However, the ballots do have a provision for a write-in candidate, and so we are encouraging people to do that. Fortunately, he has an easy name!

 

Transportation Discrimination

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Canvassing Opportunities
2. Candidates Forum
3. Transportation Discrimination

1) Canvassing Opportunities

Join our candidates as we go door to door talking to voters! There will be two shifts on two Saturdays.

May 11 we will meet in the parking lot at the Pascack Community Center, 87 New Clarkstown Rd, in Nanuet, first shift at 11:00 AM and second shift at 1:00 PM.

May 18 we will meet in the parking lot at the 7-11, 65 Kennedy Dr, Spring Valley, first shift at 11:00 AM and second shift at 1:00 PM.

Wear your most comfortable shoes and your warmest smile!

2) Candidates Forum May 13

The Spring Valley NAACP Civic Engagement Committee presents: “East Ramapo School Board Candidates Forum”

Monday, May 13 at 7:00 PM
Louis Kurtz Civic Center, 9 North Main Street, Spring Valley

Cosponsor: Spring Valley NAACP Young Adult Committee
We encourage you to come and find out about the candidates before voting! All are welcome as there is no cost to attend. Audience members will be allowed to ask questions during the forum. Join us at this free community event!

3) Transportation Discrimination

The board is proposing to make changes to the school schedules. They say it is in response to rising transportation costs. But the cost-cutting measures won’t be applied to busing for non-public schools.

The Journal News: East Ramapo transportation changes would affect public schools first

If the district is not addressing the skyrocketing costs of gender-segregated and courtesy busing for non-public schools, its not because they can’t. In 2016, the Suffern school district aligned busing schedules for non-public schools, to save costs. Some of those affected called it discrimination:

The Journal News: Cuts to Ramapo school busing anger parents

There are serious questions about the impact of the proposed changes. How will earlier start times affect high school students (the most recent studies recommend a later start time for high school age children)? Will a 6:15 AM bus stop time increase our already unacceptable drop-out rate? How much will the extra pay for teachers and monitors cost? 

However, the biggest question is this: Do the students in public school matter as much to the school board as those in non-public school?

The Greenberg report said: “Most disturbing, Board appears to favor the interests of private schools over public schools.” He said there had been “No meaningful effort made to distribute pain of deep budget cuts fairly among private and public schools.” 

East Ramapo has had more failed budgets than any other district in the state. The ones who vote down the budgets are insulated from consequences by the school board. All the negative consequences always fall on someone else’s children. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. Our system was designed for majority rule, because the majority were in public school. There was no provision made in state law (from which local school authorities derive their power) for districts with a majority of students in non-public school. That could be changed at the state level. We continue to urge Albany to address the issue of “Governance with the Consent of the Governed”.

Meet the Candidates

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Meet and Greet
2. Candidates Forum

1) Meet and Greet

Meet and Greet the East Ramapo School Board Candidates!

Ashley LEVEILLE and Eric GOODWIN!

Where: The beautiful home of Rabia and Paul Nagin, 23 Dogwood Ln, Pomona
When: Saturday, May 4 at 4:00 PM

2) Candidates Forum

The Spring Valley NAACP Civic Engagement Committee presents:
“East Ramapo School Board Candidates Forum”
Monday, May 13 at 7:00 PM
Louis Kurtz Civic Center, 9 North Main Street, Spring Valley
Cosponsor: Spring Valley NAACP Young Adult Committee
We encourage you to come and find out about the candidates before voting! All are welcome as there is no cost to attend. Audience members will be allowed to ask questions during the forum. Join us at this free community event!

 

 

Last Call

Power of Ten Special Edition:
1. Last Call for Petitions
2. RCAN Education Event

1) Last Call for Petitions

It’s not too late to help with the petition process. You can download and print petitions right from the campaign website: https://eastramapotogether.wordpress.com/petitions/

Thanks to all those who have already been helping with the petition gathering process!

For those who haven’t started yet, remember every signature counts – even if the only one you get is your own!

Please drop off your petitions by 12:00 noon on Monday, April 22.

There is a drop-box on the porch at 10 Garden Pl. in Spring Valley.

2. RCAN Education Event

Thanks to all who came out to the Rockland Citizen’s Action Network Education Event at Finklestein Library. We all got to know our candidates a little better.

If, you missed it, no worries, we brought a camera.

Who’s Getting Schooled? Who Isn’t?

Who’s Getting Schooled? Who Isn’t?

Thursday, April 18th, 6:45-8:45 pm at Finkelstein Library, Spring Valley

POLITICAL FORCES are at play affecting children, education, life in Rockland County, and the entire state. Don’t miss this eye-opening examination of the facts:


Special Guests: YAFFED, featuring Naftuli Moster, Executive Director of Young Advocates for Fair EDucation and other yeshiva-educated members whose brilliant work fighting for fair and equitable education in religious schools has had a major impact on academic standards legislation and enforcement statewide. Hear firsthand from those denied an education, and get the latest on YAFFED’s quest to ensure that all students receive critical tools and skill sets needed for long-term personal growth and self-sufficient futures.

 

 

Special Guests: Eric Goodwin and Ashley Leveille, candidates for school board in the East Ramapo School District, will describe the latest on public education there, local forces at work, and what people are doing to fight for educational rights.

This event is a special presentation by the Rockland Citizens Action Network

Two Important Events, One Important Article

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Martin Luther King Center Gala
2. Rockland Citizens Action Network
3. How Schools Are Responding to Migrant Children

1) Martin Luther King Center Gala

Enjoy an evening music, dancing, delicious food and wonderful fellowship, while celebrating those who work to bring Dr. King’s dream of a Beloved Community to life for us.

Sunday, April 14th, 2019 From 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at The Clubhouse at Patriot Hills.
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS OR MAKE A DONATION

The 2019 Honorees are…
Larry Beckerle, CEO, Beckerle Lumber
Goldie W. Bryant, Scientist, Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center Patron
Oswaldo Carrera, Manager/CEO, Food Fair Spring Valley
Oscar Cohen, Educator, Education Chairperson, Nyack and Spring Valley NAACP Branches
Doria Hillsman, Science Educator, Spring Valley High School, Secretary, Nyack NAACP Branch
Sabrina Hosang-Jordan, CEO, Caribbean Food Delights
Pierre Oscar, Polemarch, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.
Vivian Street, Former New York State Administrator, Trustee Finkelstein Library, Executive Board, Spring Valley NAACP

2) Rockland Citizens Action Network

Come hear from our school board candidates who will be guest speakers at the Rockland CAN monthly meeting at the Finklestein Library.

Thursday, April 18 from 6:45 to 8:45
Finkelstein Memorial Library, 24 Chestnut Street, Spring Valley

Eric Goodwin and Ashley Leveille are East Ramapo parents who are very well qualified want to serve our community.

Learn more about them and their campaign at: https://eastramapotogether.wordpress.com/

Right now they need help with petitioning, please see: https://eastramapotogether.wordpress.com/petitions/ for info on how to help.

3) How Schools Are Responding to Migrant Children

There is an excellent article in Education Week about the challenges faced by migrant children entering schools in their new neighborhood.

https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2019/04/10/how-schools-are-responding-to-migrant-children.html

There are many migrant children in East Ramapo, and they are one of the three groups that Power of Ten has highlighted as particularly vulnerable.

I strongly recommend that EVERY Power of Ten reader read the ENTIRE Education Week article, and then read it again. It gets right to the heart of the challenges faced by an increasing number of our students, and the responsibilities we all have to them.

Our 2019 Candidates

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Our 2019 Candidates
2. State Aid Roundup
3. Power of Ten Facebook Group

1) Our 2019 Candidates

This year two very strong and passionate individuals are asking for your support to become members of the East Ramapo school board.

Eric Goodwin and Ashley Leveille are East Ramapo parents who are very well qualified want to serve our community. 

Learn more about them and their campaign at: https://eastramapotogether.wordpress.com/

2) State Aid Roundup

In a letter to the Journal News, Mondaire Jones writes that New York State government has no excuse for not fully funding the state aid formula. 

The Assembly and Senate both passed bills that would have done just that, but the final budget, after negotiations with Gov. Cuomo, did not. 

The result is that East Ramapo will get more than last year, but less than the full amount it is owed.

The money is owed to school districts around the state as a result of a lawsuit won by parent activists, including Robert Jackson.

3) Power of Ten Facebook Group

There are many more things happening in East Ramapo than are reported in this newsletter. If you would like to keep up with the latest, you might want to join the Power of Ten Facebook group. There you will see many posts about happenings in the district, including the many wonderful events put on by the students. School board member Sabrina Charles-Pierre does a fantastic job reporting on all the wonderful activities and achievements of our students. Videos of school board meetings and commentary from Tony Luciano are also regularly shared there. 

Here’s the link to the group page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/120338314981/4

 

One Million Views!

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Candidates Forum Thursday
2. Power of Ten Facebook Group
3. One Million Views!

1) Candidates Forum Thursday

Every year we gather together to give candidates the opportunity to present to the public. Power of Ten facilitates the process and connects the candidates with local organizations that want to help with their campaign. We also provide continuity from year to year, helping candidates with the logistics of running a campaign.This year we are getting a late start and it is extra important that you make this event on Thursday. There are already some people interested in running and they deserve our support. Please come, and be ready with questions!

The Details: Candidates Forum, Thursday March 14, at 7:00 PM, at the MLK Center 110 Bethune Blvd Spring Valley

If you are interested in being a candidate, fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/DOFFwRvt7iM2RBTz1

If you are not sure about being a candidate, contact steve@poweroften.us for more information.

2) Power of Ten Facebook Group

There are many more things happening in East Ramapo than are reported in this newsletter. If you would like to keep up with the latest, you might want to join the Power of Ten Facebook group. There you will see many posts about happenings in the district, including the many wonderful events put on by the students. School board member Sabrina Charles-Pierre does a fantastic job reporting on all the wonderful activities and achievements of our students.

Here’s the link to the group page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/120338314981/4

3) One Million Views!

Congratulations to Tony Luciano, tireless videographer of East Ramapo board meetings. His YouTube page, Lucky Lou Production, has reached a major milestone: 1,000,000 views!

Some highlights Tony has captured over the years:

East Ramapo tries to stop videotaping

East Ramapo student Olivia Castor talks about D’Agostino

East Ramapo lack of education for Hasidic Students

Call for Candidates

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Call for Candidates
2. Monitoring the Monitors

1) Call for Candidates – March 14 Forum.

The school board and budget vote will take place on May 21. 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

We will hold a forum at 7:00 PM on Thursday, March 14 at the MLK Center, 110 Bethune Blvd in Spring Valley for the public to hear from all those who are interested in being candidates. 

2) Monitoring the Monitors

We as a community expect a lot from our schools. A job this big requires a plan, and East Ramapo has a plan.

East Ramapo also has a monitor, because the school board has had its own agenda which was not the official plan. The monitors produce reports about the district. The latest report is titled “Continuing Progress“.

Any plan should have goals, and those goals should be measurable. The monitors report describes a plan with four “pillars”. Each pillar has multiple bullet points. The report does not include a checklist as to how well each item has been implemented. Some we already know – for example, full day kindergarten exists. But for the rest there is no “report” in the report. Has the curriculum been “aligned”? Are instructional practices culturally responsive? How many students are and are not participating in the integrated arts?

The report does include a number of accomplishments which have benefited the students over the past three years. These include enhanced services for English language learners, restoration of some special education programs, repairs and improvements to buildings and grounds and restoration of the fund balance. These are areas in which the district had been in violation and has now made improvements to comply with laws and regulations.

While there is no doubt that added and improved programs are improving the lived experiences of the students, there’s still a need for objective measurements of academic achievement to ensure accountability of the district to the community. The monitors note that it’s difficult to assess progress over time due to changes in assessment methods, tests, and graduation requirements. Power of Ten has produced a short video reviewing the assessment measures which goes beyond the methods used by the monitors.

The monitors also reviewed “restorations” of positions which had been eliminated in past years. It is encouraging to know that there has been some increase in essential staff. According to the report, 185.5 out of 506.5 positions that were cut have been restored. There is some fuzzy math, as Music and Art positions are not listed in the cuts, but are counted as restored. The restorations are made possible by increases in state aid. As reported by Power of Ten, state aid increased by $14 million from 2014-2016. 

There continues to be inadequate attention by the district and the monitors to the three most vulnerable groups of children. Students with interrupted formal education need wraparound services. There continues to be racial disparity in Pre-Kindergarten enrollment. The biggest non-public schools in the district continue to provide appallingly substandard education. There is no mention in the monitors report of the new state guidelines for non-public schools, how they will be implemented or paid for.

The final section of the report is mildly labelled “concerns”. These include failed budgets, impending financial collapse and massive cuts to essential programs. The monitors plan to address this catastrophe is for the Board and the Superintendent to “reach out to the community to explain how strong public schools can benefit everyone in the community.” This report is titled “Continuing Progress”, but the takeaway for those who read carefully is “Impending Catastrophe”.

There is no mention of the State of New York’s constitutional responsibility to the children. The monitor is the official representative of the State, which is the body that has a legal responsibility. The school board and superintendent’s responsibilities are derivative; their authority and responsibility are delegated to them from the state. Given that the current arrangement is providing so little protection for this vital community resource, it is absolutely necessary for our representatives in Albany to do something NOW, before the next budget fails and the “concerns” of the monitor become reality.

 

Foundation Aid

Power of Ten Update
Special Edition: Foundation Aid

What is the Foundation Aid Formula?
This formula was created in response to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity ruling to distribute state aid based on the ability of public schools to raise money from local property taxes, and student need. It is intended to close the spending gap between districts and create an equitable education system for all students in NYS.

Today, the state has yet to comply with the ruling and owes schools $4.1 billion in foundation aid. $25 million is owed to East Ramapo. 

Strong East Ramapo is sponsoring an event with the Alliance for Quality Education, Spring Valley NAACP, Rockland Citizens Action Network, The Coalition to End the New Jim Crow, and The Rockland Immigration Coalition where you can learn what you can do to help finally get these desperately needed funds restored to the public schools.

When: Saturday, Feb 9 from 2:30 – 3:30

Where: Finklestein Library, 3rd Floor Fielding Room

RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/614361522351251/

MLK Day Celebration is ON!

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. MLK Day Celebration Tomorrow (Jan 21) is NOT Cancelled
2. New Accountability Measurements
3. On Tolerance

1) MLK Day Celebration Tomorrow (Jan 21) is NOT Cancelled

Thanks to the hard-working staff at Ramapo HS, tomorrow’s event will happen as planned, despite today’s snow and ice storms.

Details:

Monday, January 21st at Ramapo High School from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Honor the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with us at our Unity Celebration!

Our 2019 Theme: The African Diaspora, Resistance Through Music and Poetry

RSVP ON FACEBOOK

Keynote Speaker: Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, New York Times Bestselling Author of ‘Friday Black’

Master of Ceremonies: Jim Fyfe, East Ramapo Color Guard

Poster and Poetry Contest for all 1st – 12th grade students in Rockland County. 1 poem and 1 poster entry per grade will win a prize. Winners announced at event.

This event is presented by the Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center in collaboration with The East Ramapo Central School District and Gordon Center for Black Culture and Arts

2) New Accountability Measurements

NYSED (the state education department) has released new accountability determinations based on the new Federal law ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) which replaces the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) law.
These measurements are important because it is hard to get an objective review of something as complicated as education and as big as a school district, or even a single school.

There are many anecdotes and reports of individuals or groups of students who are doing well or poorly, but very few objective measures of the quality of education in our district, or any district as a whole.

The state measurements are better than nothing, but they are inconsistent and incomplete. Even under the old NCLB law, tests, which were the main tool used to evaluate, changed from year to year.

Even so, objective measures that look at the fate of every student are absolutely essential. It is important to look at the members of the football team and admire the athletic prowess of our children, or the members of the chess club, or the band. These are all important parts of any educational system. However, producing a few talented individuals is not the mission of a public school district. The mission is to make sure that every single child grows to their full potential, participating in the economic, civic and intellectual life of the community.

The character of the school system is not the only factor that impacts the achievement of the students. However, school systems are by definition change agents. Their mission is not to advance the status quo. If other economic or social conditions are impacting the children, for instance the cycle of poverty, it’s the obligation of the school system to understand and address these other forces so that the children will overcome.

Measurements of the quality of education in East Ramapo have become a political football. That means people will try to twist the meaning of the measurements to advance their political agenda.

The control of the East Ramapo schools has been in the hands of the nonpublic school users for over a decade now. The political conflict arises from this breaking of one of the central tenets of democracy “governance with the consent of the governed”. The conflict has a racial dimension, because almost all of the nonpublic community that controls public education are white, and almost all of the families that use the public schools are not. The conflict has a religious dimension, because those who control the public schools have been found to have been diverting funds to religious schools.

There’s also a strong desire by everyone in the community to see our children doing better. It’s important for the children to have a positive outlook on their education. It’s important to celebrate their victories.

The NCLB law was described by many as overly punitive. It was overly focused on high stakes testing. The new ESSA law attempts to be more helpful and more comprehensive. Because of their different goals and methods, comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges.

Under the old law, East Ramapo was a “Focus District”, under the new law it is a “Target District”. Under the old law, some elementary and middle schools have been designated “focus” or “in need of improvement”. Under the new law all the elementary and middle schools are designated “in good standing”.

These changes to the nomenclature should not be interpreted as indicating that there has been some kind of quantum leap in measured performance of the schools or the students. It should also not be interpreted to say there has been a decline. They are different because they measure different things, or because they’re measuring the same thing in a different way. You would not measure an orange by its crispness or an apple by being easy to peel.

The majority of the evidence available today seems to indicate that the school system is making small year over year improvements. This is not surprising, considering all the attention and assistance from the state education department and millions of dollars of increased state aid.

However, the new state measurement system is much less rigid and looks at factors such as improvement with more weight than the old system which focused on absolute measures. At the end of the day, “in good standing” is not equivalent to success at the mission of the school district. It also does nothing to address the underlying political and social conflicts which extend beyond the school doors.

Now’s the time for all stakeholders – students, teachers, parents and the wider community to come to a better understanding of what is happening and what is not happening in the schools. We can celebrate successes while addressing problems such as bullying, poverty, and racial disparities in education. There is hope that with a new government in New York State there will be an increase in state aid to our district. We need to expect that every child in our district will have equal opportunity and similar outcomes to children in neighboring districts. We need for our district not to forget the most vulnerable. We need for all residents to feel that they have a voice in the process.

3) On Tolerance

There was a time when there was a state religion. People who held different belief or no belief were treated as criminals.

Starting about two or three hundred years ago, the idea of tolerance became more or less popular. Holding beliefs other than the official state belief became more or less decriminalized.

Under this new arrangement, it soon became obvious that having an official state religion was incompatible with achieving the popular goal of tolerance.

Tolerance was originally extended only to some of the various sects of the Christian faith. Over time it expanded to include other religions, more or less.

The impact of the concept of tolerance is that within certain spheres people can live their lives more or less the same as their neighbors regardless of their religious belief system or lack thereof. This is similar to and connected to increasing ability of people to live their lives regardless of their race or gender or sexual orientation.

There has always been a paradoxical element within the concept of tolerance, that is the problem of being tolerant of those who are intolerant. This is perhaps most commonly seen in current events in the complaints of some religious sects who are asking that their intolerance of sexual orientation be tolerated, and claiming persecution if it is not.

Multiculturalism also presents problems for tolerance. Accepting that other groups’ beliefs are equally valid can be viewed as an existential threat to in-group members. Viewing others’ beliefs as inferior invariably leads to viewing other people as inferior.

Given how far tolerance has been an improvement on “western civilization”, it’s important that it be recognized and promoted. States should not treat people differently based on their belief system, or lack thereof, just as they should not treat people differently based on the color of their skin or their sexual orientation or their gender.

The challenge for the advancement of tolerance in today’s world is not only to expand the number of states which officially treat people the same regardless of their belief system, or lack thereof. Much of today’s discrimination is not state discrimination. Freedom of conscience can’t fill your belly if you’ve been denied an education, or a job. It can be poor consolation when you are ostracized socially. For this reason, there are still many who suffer in the closet. There are still more who close their minds in unspoken fear, who don’t even allow themselves to imagine what it would be like to think differently.

Societies that adopt tolerance have great advantages socially and economically. People know they’re better off when their free, and they can see the economic advantage of other people being better off as well. This explains why tolerance has been so popular. Whether reactionary forces or inherent paradoxes will slow or stop the expansion of tolerance is not known. It’s possible that other concepts such as reciprocity will eventually replace tolerance. In the meanwhile, some of us have the freedom to speak on the topic and organize and effect change.

 

ESSA is Here!

Chalkbeat announced today that NYSED is about to release it’s first set of accountability reports based on ESSA, which replaces NCLB as the law governing school accountability.

According to Chalkbeat:

Now, after years of planning and incorporating feedback from educators, parents, and policy experts, state officials are finally about to say which schools are considered struggling under the new framework.

So, NYSED is doing away with all the old nomenclature, and adopting new categories and new methods of assessment. How will this affect oversight of East Ramapo? Will there be more help focused on the groups most at risk? Expect to hear much more about this in the near future!