Your Story Requested

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Your Story Requested
2. Culturally Relevant Teaching
3. Extended Reading: Righteous Incivility

1) Your Story Requested

Several readers have contacted the Power of Ten with concerns about long waits for registration and problems with busing.

You can submit your story to Power of Ten, and it will be used to create a report. No personal information will be shared without your permission.

Do you have a story?

Submit your story here: https://poweroften.us/report-your-issue/

YouTube video of transportation discussion at the last school board meeting: https://youtu.be/xHswEkhSKM8

2) Culturally Relevant Teaching

East Ramapo has a state mandated plan which states that instructional practices will be culturally responsive. This has never been evaluated by the state monitors. 

What does Culturally Responsive Education look like? 

Here is a brief summary, mostly drawn from this article by Christy M. Byrd of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Culturally relevant teaching is a powerful method for increasing student achievement and engagement that draws on student’s home lives, communities, and cultural funds of knowledge. Unfortunately, culturally relevant teaching is often simplified and relegated to little more than occasional group work or celebrating different cultures in ways that disregard individual interests and stereotype students.

Culturally Relevant Teaching means:

    • Teachers have high expectations.
    • Teachers promote cultural competence
    • Teachers promote critical consciousness

Cultural Competence means:

    • Teachers develop cultural competence by understanding their students’ communities and home lives.
    • Teachers encourage students’ understanding of their own and others’ cultures by including content from students’ homes and communities and by representing people of many backgrounds in materials.
    • Teachers use students’ previous experiences and knowledge gained from their families and communities as assets in the classroom.
    • Teachers create bridges from students’ knowledge to the classroom content
    • Teachers also create bridges by bringing the outside world into the classroom and sending students into the community for service learning.

Critical Consciousness means:

    • Teachers raise students’ critical consciousness by addressing issues of social justice and racial inequality in the classroom.
    • Teachers encourage students to identify problems in their communities and to seek ways to address them.
    • Teachers acknowledge societal oppression and encourage students to notice how those dynamics are evident in their everyday lives.
    • Teachers also empower students in the classroom and give students opportunities to participate in decision making.

Does East Ramapo have a Culturally Relevant instructional practice? Is NYSED holding the district accountable to its stated plan?

3) Extended Reading: Righteous Incivility

This issue’s extended reading can be viewed as a first installment of the follow up to my essay on tolerance.

Here it is: https://aeon.co/essays/whats-the-difference-between-being-righteous-and-being-rude

Enjoy!

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!

The War on Education

Wait … What?

Yes, you read right. You have heard of The War on Poverty, The War on Terror, The War on Drugs, but … The War on Education???

Former East Ramapo school board president Wieder was once accused (by Asst. Supt. Joe Farmer) of starting a war on public education

Now he has formally declared war on the NY State Education Department. This is in response to the updated guidelines on equivalency of education in non-public schools.

The Casus Belli 

There is no doubt that thousands of children are getting almost no education in many yeshivas in East Ramapo and other parts of NY. The Satmar Rabbi has admitted “we all know the truth, that in our primary Torah schools for boys [before Bar Mitzvah] they studied at most an hour and a half, and in the advanced yeshivas [high schools] there were no secular studies at all”

According to the Rabbi, EDUCATION produces “criminals, who commit all sorts of violence and savagery, murder, theft, drug crimes, and so forth”, whereas NOT EDUCATING produces “beautifully ordered families”. He specifically refers to “public school students in New York City”, which appears to be a racist dog-whistle, appealing to the worst stereotypes of young people of color.

Using the Nuclear Option

What weapons will be used in this war? The Rabbi has urged his followers to “employ all connections that we have to those in places of influence” and to take aim at “the leaders of the Democratic party … to explain to them that it isn’t worth it for them. It wouldn’t pay for them to start a war” with ultra-Orthodox Jews in New York.

How You can Support Peace

Of course, you know that education does not increase crime. Quite the opposite. And our elected officials know it too. But they shouldn’t have to stand up to this onslaught alone. They need to know you have their back.

So Power of Ten has created a simple tool that you can use to tell the leadership in Albany that you support the new guidelines, that you support quality education for all children, in every setting, and that you expect the government of the state of New York to honor our constitution’s pledge that every child has a civil right to a sound, basic education. Just click “Send a Message” to get started.

Who’s Next?

Power of Ten Special Update:

New East Ramapo Monitor Announced

With the announcement of a new monitor for the East Ramapo school board, it seems to be an appropriate time to review what has been happening in the district.

Notable Accomplishments

The announcement by the state education department about the new monitor contains a review of “notable accomplishments by the district”:

  • improved fund balance and improved reports from auditors and comptroller
  • capital improvement projects underway
  • full-day kindergarten for all students
  • elementary arts programming

The impact of these accomplishments on the lives of children in the district is admirable and should be applauded.

Information about the work of the monitors is available at: https://eastramapomonitorupdate.wordpress.com/

None of these accomplishments would have been possible without the work of hundreds of activists.  Students, parents, clergy, education professionals all worked to demand action from Albany.  They formed groups such as the Rockland Clergy for Social Justice, Save Our Schools, Padres Unidos, and Strong East Ramapo.  They’re the ones who caused monitors to be appointed, they’re the ones who caused a new superintendent to be hired, they’re the ones who caused the state to increase aid.

The school board fought these changes tooth and nail, just as they fought the NYS Education Department’s oversight of illegal special education placements and the NY Attorney General’s criminal investigation into fraud in the sale of the Hillcrest elementary school.

Increased State Aid

Increasing educational programming costs money, and the accomplishments that the monitors report could not have been realized without increased state aid.  The following table illustrates changes to district revenue from the 2014-15 school year (before the monitor law) to the 2016-17 school year (the latest data available from the state website)

(in millions)

2014

2016

% Change

State

85

99

16%

Local

145

140

– 4%

Federal

22

25

12%

Total Revenue

252

263

4%

Measuring Results

One of the objectives the monitors set for themselves in 2016 was to “set clear performance objectives for students”.  It does not seem unreasonable that an organization with a budget of a quarter billion dollars per year, and whose mission is so vital to the community, should be able to demonstrate quantitatively and qualitatively that it’s fulfilling its mission.  However, after this one mention in September of 2016, the word “performance” does not appear again in the monitor’s blog. 

The statistics available on the state education department web site present a mixed picture:

  • Scores on state tests have been improving overall, with the exception of math scores of Latino students, which have remained flat compared to the state average since 2014.
  • Even after modest improvements, only about one quarter of our students are deemed “proficient” by the state, as compared to about half of students statewide.

Graduation rates are not yet available for the school year ending in 2018; they dropped overall between 2014 and 2017:

  • African American students in East Ramapo graduated at about the same rate as others in New York State.
  • The graduation rate for Latino students has fallen further behind, down to 37 percent in 2017!

Factors which are known to be associated with lower educational outcomes:

  • Elementary class size in East Ramapo is higher than the average in New York State.
  • Children with special needs are less likely to be placed in a regular classroom in East Ramapo than the state average.
  • Children in East Ramapo often lead separate lives from their peers of other races (de facto segregation).

The Most Vulnerable

A public education system cannot be measured only by the achievements and opportunities available to those who excel.  It can’t offer math only to those who excel at math or art to those who display talent or gym to those who are physically fit.

There are laws in place which force educational institutions to provide education for all, because there is a long sordid history of educational institutions neglecting students with disabilities, those in need of remedial services, female students and students of color.

There are three groups of students who are the most vulnerable to educational neglect in East Ramapo today.  These are: preschool children, students with interrupted formal education, and students in some yeshivas (Jewish private schools).

  • Many preschool children in East Ramapo are not exposed to a modern early childhood development environment.  The main barrier is economic.  Parents do not earn enough to pay for quality, licensed childcare or for transportation to pre-K programs.  The children don’t understand that this is not their fault.  The result is that the district will spend years trying to undo the damage to the child’s self-esteem.  Knowing the tremendous impact that lack of preschool education is having, the district (and the monitors) should be addressing this issue, starting by stating publicly that it is a problem and proposing plans to address it.
  • Every year, families move into East Ramapo with school age children.  Some of these children have experienced difficulty and hardship, including missing school, sometimes for years.  The technical term is “students with interrupted formal education”.  The district has just as much responsibility to these children as to any other child in the district.  The failure of the district to adequately address the special needs of this group is a major factor in the higher dropout rate over the past two years.  Many of the dropouts are going to work in the same underground economy as the parents who can’t afford early childhood education, thus perpetuating the cycle of poverty in our district.
  • Years ago, the administration of the East Ramapo school district made a deal with the operators of some of the yeshivas.  The school district would not enforce the state truancy law which requires that all children receive an education regardless of placement, and the yeshiva parents would stay home on school budget day and not vote the public school budget down.  This secret arrangement was covered up for decades until some of the children who had attended yeshivas began to realize they had been cheated out of an education.  They found themselves unprepared for the job market and unable to provide for their families. 

Reading Between the Lines

What do you see between the lines when you read reports from the NYSED monitors? What are they not saying about the most vulnerable? What are they not saying about the governance of a public school system where most children attend private school?

The monitors will either serve the children or they will serve those who profit from the status quo.  They do not have veto power over the school board, but you, dear reader, have veto power over the monitors through your elected representatives in Albany.

Vote Nov 6

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. New Documentary about Tensions  in East Ramapo
2. Janusz Korczak Conference: Legacy, Pedagogy, Children’s Rights
3. Vote Nov 6

1) New Documentary about Tensions  in East Ramapo

OUTSIDER is a short documentary that explores how activists are fighting for better education for students of both public schools and private yeshivas, fire officials are fighting the widespread epidemic of illegal housing and over development, and long time residents are reflecting back on how exactly this sudden and drastic change occurred.

It is produced by award-winning New York and Boston based filmmaker Noah Graham, who grew up in Rockland County.

You can be a part of this project by supporting it on Kickstarter.

2) Janusz Korczak Conference: Legacy, Pedagogy, Children’s Rights

If you are interested in human rights, children rights, humanistic education or simply want to learn who Janusz Korczak was and how his ideas can help all of us today – this event is for you!

Friday, November 9, 2018
9:00am – 6:00pm
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room, 1219 International Affairs Building (420 W 118th St)

Conference website: https://harriman.columbia.edu/event/conference-janusz-korczak-legacy-pedagogy-childrens-rights

More information about Dr. Korczak:

The Janusz Korczak Association of the USA
www.korczakusa.com

3) Vote Nov 6

Tuesday Nov 6 is Election Day. People are constantly being told to vote, that it is a duty, etc., but we rarely hear about the main reason many choose not to vote. It is not due to laziness, busyness or any other personality trait. It is caused by alienation. Alienation is what happens when people don’t feel connected to their community, to their workplace, to their school system. It is a feature of our socio-economic system. Alienation cannot be reversed by guilt trips. It can be reduced by making our institutions less bureaucratic and hierarchical. It can be reduced by spreading access to power and information broadly.

In the September Primary Election, Julie Goldberg, a school librarian, ran a campaign that reduced alienation in our community by involving hundreds of volunteers that talked to their neighbors about our issues. She did not win the election, but our community is a winner because of the way she ran her election.

Julie is now endorsing Senator David Carlucci for re-election to the NY State Senate. This is a very important election because it was Senate majority leader Flanagan that prevented East Ramapo from getting the Monitor with Veto Power that was recommended for our district. Electing Senator Carlucci is important to preventing Senator Flanagan from continuing to run the NY State Senate.

For those East Ramapo residents who live in Haverstraw and Stony Point, a vote for James Skoufis for Senate is equally important to keep the Senate out of Flanagan’s hands. 

Assembly member Ellen Jaffee is also on the ballot, and there has been no elected official who has worked harder to improve the quality of education in East Ramapo.

All of these candidates can be found on the Democratic line, but not every candidate on that line supports quality education for all.

You can find a complete rundown of all the offices and candidates on the Journal News website here: https://www.lohud.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/10/19/election-2018-candidates-ballot-voting-ny-westchester-rockland-putnam/1656630002/

More info about the election is available from Preserve Ramapo at: http://preserve-ramapo.com/

The Secret to Power: Be Informed, Active, Involved

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Educational Equivalence at Issue
2. Last Chance: Guidelines Petition
3. Election Protection

1) Educational Equivalence at Issue

BE INFORMED

Educational Equivalence continues to be an issue for the general election. Independent Candidate for Governor Stephanie Miner has issued a Press Release criticizing “cynical, transactional politics” that fail to ensure children receive a quality education.

Ms. Miner will be visiting Rockland this Wednesday evening, Oct. 17th, from 6:30 to 8:00 PM at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Suffern for a “Meet and Greet Reception.” All are welcome.

2) Last Chance: Guidelines Petition

BE ACTIVE

The state Education Dept. has delayed release of guidelines for over a year. Power of Ten has set up an easy petition that will send email directly to the commissioner.

Please don’t fail to sign This Important Petition before Oct 23.

3) Election Protection

BE INVOLVED

Have you ever been concerned about the integrity of the election process? One way you can help to safeguard our elections is to be an Election Monitor. NYDLC is offering free training for those who would like to participate in the upcoming election. This training will help you better understand the process, and prepare you to be able to help in any election, including school board elections. Training sessions are about 1 and 1/2 hours long including a Q & A period. Each volunteer gets a copy of the NYDLC 2018 Voter Protection Manual and other resource materials. 

Please use the following link to sign up to volunteer:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfy_9EffrdS7j_SAEi4kifMgudF9ihQGOV1t5krUTpEDVxx-A/viewform

Equivalency, Test Scores, Competition

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Equivalency Petition
2. Test Scores
3. Marching Band Competition

1) Equivalency Petition

Education is a civil right guaranteed by the NY State Constitution. Tens of thousands of children are suffering from educational neglect in yeshivas across New York, including many in East Ramapo. The Chancellor of NYC schools has documented that many non-public schools are not providing educational equivalency while many others are not cooperating with efforts to determine equivalency.The Commissioner of Education has delayed releasing new guidelines for educational equivalency in non-public schools for too long. It’s time for us to speak up about these delays. 

Send a message to Commissioner Elia, insisting that she release the new guidelines for non-public schools immediately!

Click here to view the petition

2) Test Scores

The NY State testing and assessment results are complicated. NYSED keeps changing the test, making it difficult to compare year to year. However, the differences among Rockland districts is startling. East Ramapo continues to have the lowest proficiency rates in Rockland, 50% lower than our nearest neighbors.

The Journal News has reported the latest test results here

The monitors assigned by NYSED for East Ramapo for the last three years have never provided a true critical analysis of the reasons for continued low test results and low graduation rate. They have never discussed solutions for the long term systemic problems. We continue to be cajoled and flattered about progress made because we passed a bond to pay for renovations, and for progress made due to the influx of state aid. There is no doubt that these things are helpful. However, the district staff can’t be reasonably expected to provide unbiased criticism of themselves, and so NYSED must provide that information. For most other districts, the information available on the NYSED website is enough, but East Ramapo has monitors for a reason. At this point, there is not much hope that the current monitors will ever do more than their political assignment, which appears to be to give cover to Albany to do nothing.

3) Marching Band Competition

The world famous East Ramapo Marching Band will host a competition at Spring Valley High School on Saturday, October 6, at 6:00 PM.

There are many great events put on by our students all year long. Sporting Events, Concerts, Theater, and more. 

The Marching Band Competition is an event that is sure to entertain and inspire pride.

More details are available on the Marching Band Facebook page.

 

Promises, Promises

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Promises, Promises
2. Vote Thursday September 13
3. Local Election Information

1) Promises, Promises

According to reports in ultra-Orthodox media, Governor Cuomo promised the Satmar Rebbe in Brooklyn that he “would not interfere” in matters of education in the ultra-Orthodox sector, in return for the support of the Rebbe.

Power of Ten Readers will remember that earlier this year, Governor Cuomo did weaken educational standards at the request of the ultra-Orthodox.

However, his spokesperson would not confirm or deny whether Cuomo made the comments to the Grand Rebbe, and the Governor told Politico that he has no direct role in oversight and he is sure NY will fully enforce the education law for all schools.

The only logical conclusion is that either:

A) The ultra-Orthodox media is misrepresenting what Gov. Cuomo said 

Or

B) Gov. Cuomo is misrepresenting what Gov. Cuomo said.

All of this begs the question “Why would any elected official meet privately with a group that advocates for the educational neglect of children?”

2) Vote Thursday September 13

NY State Primary Election Day is Thursday September 13.

The issues in Albany that directly effect the educational experience of our children are: Funding and Oversight.

On both of these issues, the Democratic-led Assembly has delivered. They have passed bills which fully fund education and they passed the bill for a Monitor with Veto Power for East Ramapo. Assembly members Jaffee and Zebrowski  were tireless in their advocacy for our issues.

On both issues, the Republican-led Senate has not delivered. Their funding bills have failed to meet the court ordered funding amounts and they failed to pass the bill for a Monitor with Veto Power for East Ramapo. Complicating matters in the Senate, Democratic Senator Felder and the “Independent Democratic Caucus” (IDC), which includes our own Senator Carlucci, have not supported the Democratic leadership’s version of the funding bills. 

On both issues Governor Cuomo has not delivered. He has failed to fully fund and he has weakened educational standards. 

Voting by itself is not enough, but it is an essential part of our struggle for Justice in East Ramapo. Power yields nothing without demand. Thursday’s trip to the voting booth is a chance for each of us to say “I am here, I matter, I will not be invisible.”

3) Local Election Information

The most hotly contested race is for NY Senate District 38, where Julie Goldberg is the challenger to incumbent David Carlucci.

There is a lot of good information on local elections from local media sources. 

The Journal News: Carlucci-Goldberg primary: Candidates vying for Democratic mantle answer six questions

Preserve Ramapo: Julie Goldberg for State Senate–Sept 13 Primary

Religious Communities Block School Monitors

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Religious Communities Block School Monitors
2. Help Our Teachers
3. Anti-Semites and Bloc-Puppets

1) Religious Communities Block School Monitors

It’s Deja-vu all over again! 

As reported by Alan Singer of DailyKos: Religious Communities with Ties to Andrew Cuomo Block School Monitors

As it turns out, at the same time that we were fighting for a Monitor with Veto Power for East Ramapo, the NYC school chancellor was asked to monitor education in NYC yeshivas.

Readers of Power of Ten will not be surprised to learn that the same anti-education extremists who advocated against the monitor for the school board for East Ramapo are the same ones who are fighting against a monitor for yeshivas in NYC.

What may surprise some is that our elected officials, as reported by Mr. Singer, have been colluding with these anti-education extremists!

#Yeshivagate is generating a lot of of coverage including the New York Times.

With the September 13 elections around the corner, incumbents who have colluded with anti-education extremists should be worried!

2) Help Our Teachers

The East Ramapo Community Fund for Public Education generates community support to fund teacher initiated enrichment programs and expanded learning opportunities for the public school students of East Ramapo.

Power of ten is asking readers to support The East Ramapo Community Fund for Public Education as this school year begins.

3) Anti-Semites and Bloc-Puppets

Being upset about attacks on education by ultra-orthodox Jews does not mean you are an anti-Semite. False accusations of anti-Semitism are disrespectful to those harmed by attacks on education, and they are disrespectful to all Jewish people.

Being upset about attacks on education by ultra-orthodox Jews is not an excuse for saying things which make Jewish people, including ultra-orthodox Jewish people, feel uncomfortable. Jewish people have a valid reason to fear anti-Semitism, and everyone has a responsibility to guard against it.

Talking about these issues is hard. Sometimes you feel like you own what you say, and sometimes you feel like what you’ve said owns you. That shouldn’t be an excuse for silence, but rather a reason to give the other person the benefit of the doubt, because it’s as hard for him or her as it is for you.

The crisis in East Ramapo has become a hot topic in political debates and election strategies. Accusations of “anti-Semite” or “bloc-puppet” have become part of the political dialogue. Well-meaning voters may find these simplifications to be an easy shortcut. Malicious political operators may find them to be an easy tool of misdirection.

Education helps people to find better ways to express themselves. Education helps people to understand the dangers of racism. Education helps people to make hard political decisions and not depend on using shortcuts.

Power of Ten supports Education for ALL people.

This is an issue that unites people across the political spectrum. Opponents of Education can only win by using a divide and conquer strategy. They lose when we reach out to each other across political divides. This week, find someone who you disagree with about almost everything else, and have a conversation about why quality education for all children is important to both of you.

 

 

Unequal is Unconstitutional

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Unequal is Unconstitutional
2. Understanding Our Hasidic Neighbors
3. Depriving Orthodox Children Of Education Hurts Our Communities

1) Unequal is Unconstitutional

Young Advocates for Fair Education has filed a lawsuit to declare as unconstitutional a new law which sets a lower educational standard for Hasidic children.

Until April 2018, New York State required that every child receive an equivalent education.

Without debate, and under threat of stalling the budget and closing state government, Senator Felder inserted this new law as an amendment to the budget.

Governor Cuomo allowed this to happen and continues to insist that the amendment will “balance the unique needs of yeshivas with the high educational standards we require for every New York student”.

Of the thousands of students attending Jewish religious schools in East Ramapo, the large majority attend ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic schools with barely any secular education. The majority of students in 12th grade are not in degree-granting programs. When state tests are administered, the results are abysmal.

Rights which are guaranteed by the Constitution protect the people from opportunistic politicians. The right of a child to an education is a long-settled fact which is enshrined in the New York State constitution. It cannot and should not be undone at the 11th hour in a smoke-filled back room by Senator Felder or even Governor Cuomo.

However, it is the nature of civil rights that they must constantly be fought for. YAFFED has stepped up and filed a lawsuit.  The lawyers are working pro bono, but there are costs that must be paid.

You can help to defend the rights of all children to equivalent education by donating to YAFFED today.

2) Understanding Our Hasidic Neighbors

It is important, when discussing your neighbors, and especially when there are legal and social issues, to take the time to learn something about them. It’s important to remember that our Hasidic neighbors love their children, and have as much right as anyone else to want their children to follow in the traditions of their families.

Shulem Deen, renowned author of “All Who Go Do Not Return“, has written a review of a new scholarly book about the Hasidic religious movement for the Forward. This is an excellent resource for those wishing to have a better understanding of our Hasidic neighbors.

It’s important to understand that every family and every ethnicity in East Ramapo has its own American story, and that is why everyone of us has just as much responsibility to the education of the children as any other one, and why every child has just as much right to education as any other one. In the not so distant past, civil rights were only a dream. Today, we must renew our commitment to the next generation.

3) Depriving Orthodox Children Of Education Hurts Our Communities

The Spring Valley NAACP has been in the forefront of the fight for improved education in East Ramapo public schools. Now, in a letter published in The Forward, Spring Valley NAACP president Willie Trotman and Education Committee Director Dr. Oscar Cohen illustrate the interdependence of all subgroups within our East Ramapo community.

As Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “We may have all come on different ships, but we are in the same boat now.”

 

Remembering our Champions

Power of Ten Update

Special Edition: Remembering Our Champions

In this special edition, Power of Ten honors two Champions of Public Education – David Lipman and Pedro Santana

David Lipman

Power of Ten marks the one year anniversary of the passing of David Lipman, an East Ramapo alumnus and parent who served his country with honor and distinction in World War II.

On July 12, 2017 he passed from this world, but his words and deeds live on within our entire East Ramapo community.

Read his amazing story here: http://poweroften.us/in-memoriam/

 

Pedro Santana

Pedro Santana came into our district for only a brief time, and yet his influence is still felt today in the hearts and minds of the many people who knew and loved him, more than four years after his death.

Like David, Pedro was on a mission to make the world a better place. David noted that our school board has “poured bitter herbs on the books of these children” instead of honey, and Pedro worked to heal the children of bitterness with the honey of his unforgettable charismatic personality and his prodigious intellect.

Pedro’s story has been immortalized in “My Name is Pedro“, a documentary that explores what public education meant to him – a ‘special ed’ child from the Bronx – and what he, in turn, meant to public education. 

They said NO – You can still say YES!

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:
1. You can say Yes!
2. We cannot afford to turn away
3. Yeshiva Fever!

1) You can say Yes!

The budget vote is over. The “NO’ vote was greater. But you can still say YES to enhancing our students education at the Martin Luther King Center’s Summer Program. The MLK Center has an accredited program that prevents an academic “summer slide” while providing fun and enriching activities and a lifetime of memories for our youth.

You can be part of this positive action for our students by joining us for “Summer, Sand & Soul 2018: A Party with a Purpose!

Sunday, July 29th, 2018 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 701 Piermont Ave, Piermont, NY.

The Kurz Family Foundation has provided a matching challenge grant! By purchasing tickets early you can help ensure that 100% of ticket sales go directly to help the Center.

2) We cannot afford to turn away

East Ramapo’s Education crisis is caused by a social crisis. It is the same crisis which has plagued humanity for thousands of years. Fear of “The Other”. Loathing of “The Other”. Indifference to “The Other”. In the last issue, I tried to outline how these factors affect our community.

I tried, but Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt, the life editor at the Forward, has done a much better job!

I highly recommend reading The Jews Who Ignore Immigrants While Employing Them

The Forward is my favorite media outlet. It offers a variety of news and opinion that is not seen anywhere else. I may be biased, because it was my grandfather’s favorite paper too (he read it in the original Yiddish).

Ms. Chizhik-Goldschmidt ends her essay with “We cannot afford to turn away”. Truer words have never been spoken!

3) Yeshiva Fever!

I call it Poetic Injustice. Indifference to the quality of education by one group to another’s children leads to indifference to the conditions for their own children. It’s a kind of passive version of “an eye for an eye”, but the result is the same – the whole world goes blind. 

Writing for “The Progressive” magazine, Jake Jacobs illustrates the connection between those who oppose education in both private and public settings. Not surprisingly, the connection is power and money.

Yeshiva Fever: Religious Schools May Portend What DeVos Wants for the Nation

 

Budget Re-vote Fails

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Budget Re-vote Fails
2. Socioeconomic analysis

1) Budget Re-vote Fails

East Ramapo public school students will once again be facing an austerity budget as a result of racially polarized voting. Up to 93% of voters in segregated neighborhoods in Monsey, Kaser and New Square rejected the education spending measure. Polling sites that serve integrated areas voted up to 91% in favor of the budget.

So, once again, despite delivering more YES votes than any other school district in Rockland, East Ramapo’s budget did not pass, and there will be significant cuts to programs for children. 

2) Socioeconomic analysis

The majority of families that use East Ramapo public schools are people of color; the largest groups being Latino, African American, and Haitian.  Many of the parents of our public school students work in the service economy in nearby areas that are nearly 100% white. These white neighborhoods are mainly ultra-Orthodox Jewish, and send their children to private religious schools. The public school parents clean the bathrooms, iron white shirts, do the laundry, bag the groceries, mop the floors, mow the lawns, build the houses, serve meals in the schools, etc. The wages are low and the hours are long. When they pay their rent at the end of the month, it’s most often to a white landlord. These are the stark racial and social and economic lines for a large part of our community. 

At this point it’s important to note that ALL members of the above racial, social and economic groups are members of the SAME community. However, there are large differences in power between different groups. Economic power, political power, social power are concentrated in the white part of the community. 

When the white community votes down the budget for the schools that the people of color use, they are not just indifferent to some foreign group. They are cutting programs for the children of the woman who does their laundry. They are laying off teachers of the children of the man who swings the hammer that puts a roof over their head.

These kinds of racial and economic differences are not unique in history, or even in today’s America. But they are stark, insidious and alarming in East Ramapo. People can live with limited opportunity for themselves, but when it appears that opportunities are being denied to their children, they can lose hope. And hopeless people are dangerous.

It has been clear for some time now that the voters in Monsey and Kaser and New Square are not going to wake up tomorrow and decide that the cleaning lady deserves a living wage, or that they might have some shared social responsibility to children with a different complexion or ethnic background. Unless some intervention comes from outside of the district, relations will continue to deteriorate. 

 

 

Vote Tuesday

Power of Ten Update
Special Edition: Vote Tuesday

Tuesday, June 19 is the budget re-vote. 

East Ramapo has seen more budgets voted down than any other district in NY State.

The result is higher class sizes, fewer options, and lower outcomes.

This is unacceptable.

There is also a continuing crisis of trust in East Ramapo.

People do not feel sure that all of their tax dollars are really going towards education.

This is because the school board has been found to be favoring the interests of private religious schools (yeshivas) which are infamous for taking public education dollars but not providing an education to the students.

However, our district also has many hard working staff who love the students and are doing their best under very difficult circumstances.

We cannot afford to let these good people down.

We cannot afford to let the children down.

Even though it can feel like paying a ransom, we have to keep things in perspective.

First, be aware that your school tax is not your whole property tax bill. The proposed increase only applies to the school tax portion. For each $1000 of school tax a homeowner now pays, there will be only $28.90 additional per year. That’s about $2.41 per month.

Second, even though there is still a lot of mistrust, one thing we do know for sure is that a failed budget will cause suffering for the children next year. 

So, we are asking you to take a few minutes on Tuesday, and vote YES for the budget. 

You know we will continue to push hard for more accountability, and eventually for some long term solution to our crisis, so aptly called “A Not So Simple Majority” by This American Life.

Tuesday is a different job, but just as important. Please Vote YES for the budget.

 -Steven White

 

 

YES on June 19

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. YES on June 19
2. Rockland Legislature June 12

1) YES on June 19

There will be a re-vote of the budget on Tuesday June 19. There is no doubt that the experience of our children and youth will be better if the budget passes.

Do I need to say more?

Please do not fail to cast your ballot on June 19. The polling places are the same as they were on the first vote last month. call the Clerk at 845-577-6015 if you are not sure where you vote.

2) Rockland Legislature June 12

On Tuesday, June 12th, at 6:30 a discussion and vote will take place at the Rockland County Legislature regarding a resolution to support Assembly Member Ken Zebrowski’s bill A1305.

This legislation will strengthen the NY Education Department’s ability to enforce standards in the education received at non-public schools.

Please attend this meeting, to show support this essential action to protect every child’s right to education.

When: June 12 at 6:30 PM

Where: 11 New Hempstead Rd, New City

 

 

Death Threat!

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. To Re-vote or not to Re-vote?
2. What Happened?
3. Death Threat!

1) To Re-vote or not to Re-vote?

That is the question that the school board will take up at their special meeting on Wednesday May 23 at 7:00 PM.

To avoid $4 million in severe cuts to our children’s educational resources, Strong East Ramapo strongly urges a re-vote!

Come to share your voice in favor of a re-vote at East Ramapo district headquarters, 105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday May 23.

2) What Happened?

Thank you to everyone who voted in Tuesday’s election — and of course to our amazing candidates for putting themselves out there. In a district with incredibly difficult odds to win, Pastor Jose Cintron and Miriam Moster deserve our thanks. Thankfully, Sabrina Charles-Pierre ran unopposed and will be serving another term!

School Budget Vote Turnout Analysis:

The total turnout for the school budget vote for all districts in Rockland County was 9%. The turnout in East Ramapo was 10%.

East Ramapo is the only school district whose budget failed. It is also the only district that has to contend with a significant “Bloc Vote”. This consists of about half of the registered voters in East Ramapo.

On average, 6% of registered voters in Rockland supported the school budgets. 9% of East Ramapo voters (excluding the block vote) supported the budget. At one East Ramapo poll, YES votes outnumbered NO votes by 6.75 to 1. No other district in Rockland had this level of support.

The Bloc Vote delivered an 1800 vote advantage for a NO vote at 5 polls. If the Bloc Vote was in any other district in Rockland, that district’s budget would also have been voted down.

3) Death Threat!

News 12: Jewish education activist says he received death threat

Regular readers of the Power of Ten know that it’s not only in East Ramapo’s public school system that education is under threat. Power of Ten supports all activists working to ensure every child’s human right to an education. Yaffed advocates for education in yeshivas in NY, including here in East Ramapo.

Those who oppose education for children are often fanatical and sometimes violent.

On May 13, a caller left a voicemail with Yaffed saying plainly “Hi Naftuli Moster, I want to let you know that I am going to murder you, G-d willing; very soon you will be dead and your blood will spill. It’ll be a pleasure seeing you dead. You stupid, dumb, idiot…”

Please respond to this cowardly attack by visiting the Yaffed website, liking them on Facebook, signing their petition, and donating to their not-for-profit organization.

 

Vote Tuesday

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

1) Vote Tuesday

We can’t always get what we want. But everything we have, we got because someone stood up. The act of voting can be joyous, or it can be tedious, but it should never be disheartening. Every chance you have to hold your head up, to say to the world “I demand to be counted”, is an affirmation of life, an affirmation of all those who have lived and worked for a better world.

Strong East Ramapo has reviewed and endorsed a YES vote for the budget.

For all the info, and how to help, please contact: strong-east-ramapo+owners@googlegroups.com 

2) Our 2018 Candidates

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

 

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

 

 

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.

The Invisible Ones

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. The Invisible Ones
2. Voting Rights Act Applies in East Ramapo
3. Parent & Youth Conference – December 9
4. Holiday Party!

1) The Invisible Ones

Over the past several years it has been reported many times that there are too many students not doing well in East Ramapo. We hear over and over again that 3 out of 4 students are not “proficient” in Reading and Math. Students who are not doing well are always presented as a statistic, whereas those who are excelling are recognized individually for their success. To some extent this is only natural, but is has the effect of rendering most of the student body invisible. We know what it looks like for a student to get a scholarship to Harvard, or be on the winning sports team. We don’t know what it is like for the child and family struggling with learning math, or a student who can’t recite his ABC in the third grade. These are The Invisible Ones.

It seems that every year there is a new outcry, a new plan, a new curriculum to address the unhappy statistic. It must be very frustrating for the staff, the parents, the children. It is as if the they are in a “Black Box“, a system which can be viewed solely in terms of its stimuli inputs and output reactions.

To see inside the box, to render the invisible visible, we need only to open our eyes. Many families in our diverse district suffer from horrific economic exploitation. We live in one of the wealthiest counties in the country, and yet working families are living in overcrowded, dilapidated housing, and relying on government support just to avoid starvation. Many children spend their earliest years in unsafe, unlicensed child care settings without any modern child development tools. The impact of poverty on children is wrapped into statistics about free lunch, but the children, and the reasons why they are in poverty, remain invisible.

2) Voting Rights Act Applies in East Ramapo

The NYCLU has taken action to protect rights of minority voters in East Ramapo under the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The New York Times: East Ramapo School Elections Violate Voting Rights, Suit Claims

The Journal News: East Ramapo parents’ lawsuit: Election system stacked vs. minorities

The Atlantic: A Heavy Blow to One of America’s Most Controversial School Boards

3) Parent & Youth Conference – December 9

Tender Steps of New York, Inc. (TSONY) will facilitate a parent & youth conference, “Step Into Your Destiny” empowering the power within at the Rockland County Community College in the Student Union Building, for youth ages 12-18, on Saturday, December 9, 2017, from 8:00 AM- 2 PM. The guest speakers will include Dr. Weldon McWilliams IV community advocate, Dr. Tammy Pate NYC Department of Education Administrator, Wanda Julien, retired Lieutenant of Detectives and other professional leaders from multiple fields who will facilitate workshops to promote the importance of developing coping skills, importance of social media etiquette, promote self-respect and to learn tools and strategies on how to deal with peer pressure to address ways to improve emotional health of youth in the community. The parenting workshops will promote helpful parenting skills to help guide while raising their youths.

4) Holiday Party!

Join Strong East Ramapo  to celebrate the progress we have made as a community, discuss the issues that plague us still and the plans we have to move forward. We only ask that everyone bring either a snack, dessert, or drink to share.

When: Monday, December 18 at 7 PM – 9 PM
Where: New Hillcrest Firehouse, 371 N. Main St. Spring Valley

Vote!!!

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Election Tuesday
2. Polling Place Changes Coming?

1) Election Tuesday

The plight of East Ramapo has been a topic of discussion in many political campaigns over the past few years. Some of the school board members and defenders have gone on to hold public office, and some have even used that office to further harm educational opportunity in our district. Some of our education activists and school board candidates have also run for public office, and used their position to help improve education..

 Elected officials can affect what happens in East Ramapo:

Sometimes it is a memorializing resolution, such as was passed by the Rockland County Legislature (with the exception of three school board supporters).

Sometimes it is a bill in Albany, proposed by our State Assembly Members Ellen Jaffee and Ken Zebrowski or Senator Carlucci.

Sometimes it is action taken by County Executive Ed Day to enforce fire and safety codes in schools.

I have always tried to report connections to East Ramapo so that voters will have that information as they make their decisions.

In Spring Valley:
On Row H we have three East Ramapo activists. For Mayor, Emilia White (my better half), for Trustee Chevon DosReis and Eustache Clerveaux. Each of them has previously run for school board. They have demonstrated integrity in their commitment to better conditions for our children and have earned our support. 

In Ramapo:
Also on Row H there is a team running for the Supervisor and Council positions in the Town of Ramapo. They call themselves “A New Direction“. They are indeed “new”, in that they are attempting to bring together all sides in the divided Town of Ramapo.

Beware: A very vocal supporter of the infamous East Ramapo school board is running on Row A in Ramapo. A Power of Ten reader caught him on camera and made this video: Know Before You Vote. It is very important information for anyone who will be casting a vote in the Town of Ramapo on November 7th.

More information about the election is available from Preserve Ramapo and the Journal News.

2) Polling Place Changes Coming?

In his report “Opportunity Deferred“, Dennis Walcott (former NYC School Chancellor, assigned by NY State to monitor East Ramapo) recommended that “an independent monitor” should review underused polling sites and identify new sites for the 2016 election to ensure greater accessibility to voting locations”. These changes, he said, were necessary “In order to address significant trust issues within the District.”

Instead, the district began a secret process with a contractor and proposed adding two new polling places in Monsey. 

Strong East Ramapo conducted a survey that showed public opinion was against changing polling places at that time. I reported my research on underutilized polling places to the board. I presented an alternative plan to the new monitor, Mr. Szuberla. After these and other public objections, the proposal was withdrawn.

What kinds of “trust issues” was Monitor Walcott referring to? During his time as monitor, he had heard from many district residents that they felt their vote would not count. They did not trust the board to oversee its own election. They said they had seen busloads of voters coming in from out of the district. They said they were worried about voter fraud. That’s what they told Mr. Walcott, and that’s why he recommended an independent monitor for elections.

Why did Monitor Walcott recommend adding polling places? Because we provided him with a detailed analysis of voter turnout, showing that voters especially in Clarkstown and Haverstraw were less likely to vote than those who lived in Ramapo. He reviewed this factual information and made a clear recommendation to expand polling to address these underutilized, low turnout areas.

The district has now formed a committee, which I am a member of. The committee has created a survey of election experiences. While there is no question in the survey that directly addresses the “trust” issues that Monitor Walcott was concerned about, there is a comment section where you can address this or any other concern you may have. 

Please fill out the district’s survey here

There will also be community forums. Thursday, November 9th beginning at 7:00 p.m. at Ramapo HS and Tuesday, November 14th beginning at 7:00 p.m. at Spring Valley HS.

Please participate in this process by filling out the survey and coming to a forum. Thank you.

A Call to Violence?

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. A Call to Violence?
2. School Board Meeting Tuesday Oct 17
3. Why I Care

1) A Call to Violence?

A major Ultra-Orthodox newspaper has published an op-ed which appears to implicitly incite violence against organizers of the education advocacy group YAFFED.

The author equates providing education with stabbing a knife into a baby, and uses the term “Rodef” in his analogy. Rodef is an ancient Jewish legal term which justifies killing as a defense. Its most well known modern reference was in relation to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. The use of this religious legal term is analyzed and explained by Philologos in the Jewish Daily Forward.

The use of this threatening term, and the comparison of education to stabbing a baby, are hateful and divisive. Please contact Hamodia and demand an unequivocal condemnation and retraction of this piece and a commitment to reject any future input from this author. Phone: (718) 853-9094 Email: info@hamodia.com

2) School Board Meeting Tuesday Oct 17

A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. in the Board Room of the East Ramapo Central School District, 105 South Madison Ave, Spring Valley, New York, for development and annual revision of a strategic academic plan and a comprehensive expenditure plan. Followed by an Audit Committee meeting at 7:30 p.m. to receive the report of the external auditor. The followed by a regular meeting.

Please make every effort to attend this important meeting!

3) Why I Care

Our human family has been through a lot. Not so long ago we hadn’t figured out how to harness electricity. The smallest thing we knew of was the smallest thing you could see with your naked eye. No one knew how far away the sun or the stars were. Diseases were mysterious; there was no way of knowing anything as tiny as a microbe existed, or that it could kill you.

All of the knowledge and technology that we use and take for granted every day was obtained through magnificent effort, by men and women who spent their lives increasing the library of human knowledge and achievement. They did this often in the most difficult of circumstances, overcoming war and oppression and ignorance.

This body of work has allowed us to travel, to communicate, and to fend off disease. The legacy belongs equally to all human beings. It is just as wrong to deny a child the light of knowledge as it is to deny a lifesaving medicine derived from that knowledge. One of the greatest contributions of science is the knowledge that we are all one family, linked by our 23 pairs of DNA.

This great storehouse of knowledge is an even more essential inheritance than any notarized will. Every one of us shares in the duty of executor of this greatest inheritance. This is why public education cannot be some line item on anyone’s balance sheet.

This is why ALL schools need to be safe, inviting, hospitable centers of learning and inquiry. This is why the state has a ethical duty, and in NY a constitutional obligation, to ensure that every child receives this inheritance, whether the child is in a public or non-public educational institution or in the home.

Not every child is receiving a quality education. The reason for this embarrassment is lack of political will. There are still too many people who don’t see all children as OUR children, and say “why should I pay for someone else’s child?”

There are even people who oppose education (but who hypocritically use all the technologies that are generated by it).

Malala was shot in the face for going to school. There is a group called Boko Haram in Nigeria whose name actually means “Western education is forbidden”. Here in NY the Grand Rabbi of the Kiryas Joel Satmar has characterized subjects taught in public school as “disgusting”. He said he is glad that NY State has “turned a blind eye” to children in yeshivas who aren’t learning “general studies” (the subjects most people call English, Math, Science, and History).

There are many organizations advocating for better education. Malala survived the attempt on her life and has gone on to help educate many girls in her home country and around the world, including victims of Boko Haram. YAFFED is an organization in NY holding officials accountable for their duties under NY law.

As we commemorate 5 years since the violence perpetrated against Malala Yousafzai for standing up for the rights of Pakistani girls to an education, we are reminded that education activists in NY are not immune from enduring violence, or the threat thereof, at the hands of extremists.

Please visit www.yaffed.org and sign their petition, contribute to their cause, like their Facebook page, or just send a message of encouragement. 

Because we have come far enough to know that there is only one race, the human race, and every child is equally all of our future.

 

School Board Loses in Court Again

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Judge: East Ramapo Violated Open Meetings Law
2. Chiku Awali Open House
3. Community Forum on Ending the School To Prison Pipeline

1) Judge: East Ramapo Violated Open Meetings Law

The NY State Supreme Court has reversed an action taken in 2014 by the East Ramapo school board. 

The school board voted to layoff of bus drivers, based on discussions they had in executive session. However, the judge found that the board failed to give adequate justification for hiding their discussion from the public. The judge also found that “the Board of Education has engaged in a persistent pattern of deliberate violations of the letter and spirit of the Open Meetings Law”.

Why has the school board been so obsessive about getting rid of buses and drivers, to the point that they are breaking the law to do it? The explanation may be that the land used for the bus depot is desired by developers or other corporate entities. This is what happened with Hillcrest Elementary and Colton elementary. Schools were closed and sold, not because that was in the best interest of the district or in pursuit of the stated mission and goals of the district, but because the majority on the school board had a different mission. 

How often has the board entered into illegal, secret discussions? For what purposes? How many other actions are being taken based on secret, private, illegal conversations? Is the mandate of the Open Meetings Law being routinely thwarted by thinly veiled references to the exceptions the law allows?

This is not the last we will hear of this. There is still the question of damages. Will there be back pay? Legal fees? 

2) Chiku Awali Open House

Chiku Awali African Dance, Arts & Culture, Inc. invites you to our open house

SAMPLE OUR PROGRAMS

10:30 am—12:30pm The Excellence Club for ages 5 and older
12:30pm—1:30pm Drumming and Percussion Instruments
1:30pm—2:30pm Dance and Introducing Zumba
2:30pm—4:00pm Life Skills Enrichment for ages 11 and older

Refreshments served

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2017
Louis Kurtz Civic Center
9 North Main Street Spring Valley, NY 10977

ALL ACTIVITIES AND CLASSES ARE FREE
For Information Call (845)357-5062 or Email: info@chikuawali.org,
www.chikuawali.org

3) Community Forum on Ending the School To Prison Pipeline

Protecting Our Youth: Ending the School to Prison Pipeline

A special community forum by Rockland Coalition to End the New Jim Crow
Presenting the Film: The School to Prison Pipeline, featuring our guest speaker Mr. Five Mualimm-ak, human rights defender and co-founder of Incarcerated Nation Corp (INC)

SUNDAY OCTOBER 29TH 2-4PM
Finkelstein Memorial Library
24 Chestnut St., Spring Valley, NY 10977

A DISCUSSION WILL FOLLOW

In partnership with:

CEJJES Institute, Creative Response to Conflict (CRC), Helping Hands, Hudson Youth Leadership Academy (HYLA), Nyack NAACP, Power of Ten, Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation, Rockland Citizens Action Network, Spring Valley NAACP, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockland,United Methodist Church of New City

Bus Drivers Get a Reprieve

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

1) Vote Sept 12

Tuesday September 12 is the Primary Election.

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

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

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

2) Bus Drivers Get a Reprieve

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

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

3) Education Under Attack

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

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

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

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

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

Comparative Accountability

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

1) Community Meeting Saturday

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

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

2) Bus Depot Land Grab

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) Comparative Accountability

Compare these two scenarios:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Memoriam

Power of Ten

Special Edition:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A Mother’s Plea

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

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

4. This American Life Revisits East Ramapo

1)  East Ramapo is a 2017 Campaign Issue

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

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

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

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

2) A Mother’s Plea

East Ramapo parents will understand this mother’s feelings:

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

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

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

3) A Father’s Demand for Accountability

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) This American Life Revisits East Ramapo

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

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

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

 

Vote YES on Tuesday, June 20

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

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

1) Budget Revote Tuesday

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

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

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

2) Monitor Performance Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) IDC is Bad for East Ramapo

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

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

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

 

A New Beginning

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

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

1) Budget Revote

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

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

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

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

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

2) The 2018 School Board Campaign

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

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

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

3) Spring Valley Election Campaign

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

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

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

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

Party Monday, Vote Tuesday

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

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

1) Vote This Tuesday

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

2) ELECTION EVE BLOCK PARTY

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

3) Petition: No Confidence in Commissioner

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

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

Budget Blackmail and Betrayal

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

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

1) Budget Blackmail and Betrayal

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

It was a test, and they failed.

Elia fails East Ramapo: View

East Ramapo’s tax-cap busting calculation: Editorial

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

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

 

2) NO Confidence

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

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

3) NO on the budget

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

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

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

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

4) The Final Stretch

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

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

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

 

 

East Ramapo Protection Racket

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

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

1) East Ramapo Protection Racket

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

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

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

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

Your action needed:

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

2) School Board Candidates Forum

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

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

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

 

Legal Notice; Funding Explained

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

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

1) Lakewood School Cuts Driven by Yeshiva Costs

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

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

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

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

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

2) School Board Loses Appeal

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

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

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

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

Readers are strongly encouraged to read this notice in full.

Class Action Notice

4) Senator Carlucci at Center of Budget Controversy

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

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

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

Carlucci responds: Fix the broken school aid formula

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

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

About Foundation Aid:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Two BIG Events; Scholarship Opportunity

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

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

1) Fundraiser Thursday

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

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

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

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

2) Scholarship Opportunity

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

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

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

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

3) Two from E Ramapo Honored on Sunday

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

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

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

For more information call 845-425-8910

Dr. Wortham to be honored by MLK Center

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

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

4. MLK Center Event April 2

1) Fundraiser March 30

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

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

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

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

2) District Budget Update

By Dr. Andrew Mandel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) State Budget Update

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

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

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

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

4) MLK Center Event April 2

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

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

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

For more information call 845-425-8910

Fundraiser Rescheduled

Power of Ten Special Edition:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Standing UP!

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

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

1) Our Candidates

May 16, 2017 is the Board and Budget Vote.

We are standing up for ALL of our children!

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

Our Candidates:

2) March 14 Board Meeting

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

3) March 16 Fundraiser

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

Our 2017 Candidates

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

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

1) Our Candidates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2) Campaign Fundraiser

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

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

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

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

3) New Data Section

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

Call To Action

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

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

1) Call to Action from Strong East Ramapo

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

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

2) Board Meeting Tomorrow (Tuesday Feb 14)

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

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

3) Candidate’s Forum Thursday

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

RSVP to the event on Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

Betrayal of Trust

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

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

1) Issues and Candidates Forum

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

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

2) Betrayal of Trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) Scholarship Opportunity

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

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

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

 

Call for Candidates

Power of Ten Update

Special Edition: Call for Candidates

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two upcoming events:

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

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

A New Beginning?

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

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

1) Strong East Ramapo Volunteer Kickoff

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

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

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

2) 2017 Candidates Forum February 16

What kind of person makes a good school board member?

The Center for Public Education says the person should:

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) Monitor’s Report

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

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

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

The work which is before us at this present time:

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

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

Steven White, Editor of The Power of Ten

Support Advocates For Justice

Power of Ten

Special Edition: Support Advocates For Justice

Advocates for Justice has acted for East Ramapo parents and taxpayers since 2012 in a constitutional claim against the school board.  The lawsuit challenged the board’s use of public funds for private religious schools to the detriment of public school children. The case has involved many depositions, motions and appeals, and discovery of over 200,000 documents.  A4J won most key motions for the plaintiffs, 3 of which were appealed to the Federal Court of Appeals. The plaintiffs lost the last appeal in a split 2-1 decision by the court.  The majority ruled that the student plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the lawsuit against the school board because they did not suffer “direct injury” from the board’s actions.  There was a strong dissent by the third judge on the panel. Constitutional scholars advised us not seek appeal to the US Supreme Court, because considering the current make-up of the Court, it might issue a decision creating a bad precedent.

The taxpayers still have standing to continue suing the school board, but  the decision has been made to resolve the lawsuit.  The litigation was intended as one piece, along with political advocacy, in an overall effort to achieve positive change in the district. There is still more to do, but much has been achieved:  removal of the superintendent, ending illegal payments to private religious schools, appointment of a monitor to oversee actions of the school board, securing office of civil rights resolution agreements, and ensuring district compliance with the federal and state education laws.

A4J is a non-profit, which represents working people pro bono, advocating for equal rights and social justice.  They rely on foundation grants and individual donations.  Although A4J has not charged legal fees, they have incurred significant expenses related to the East Ramapo lawsuit.  A4J needs donor support to help cover these costs. 

If you would like to make a contribution to A4J, you may give online at:
http://www.advocatesforjustice.net/east-ramapo.html

or by check to:

Advocates for Justice
225 Broadway, Ste. 1902
New York NY 10007
Attn:  Liz Turner

Bond Vote: YES

Power of Ten Update

Special Edition: Bond Vote December 6

There will be a vote on December 6 to approve spending $60 million for renovations to school buildings and grounds. A YES Vote will benefit the children.

The NY State Education Department has responded to the NAACP request that they oversee the process. They say it is their “intent to provide the oversight and technical assistance to ensure the project is a success.”

While it is reassuring to hear that NYSED intends to do its job, the NAACP letter also expressed concerns about a repeat of past abuses by the school board. 

What Abuses?

In recent years the school board has closed and sold two public schools (Hillcrest and Colton). They did this despite increasing enrollment and over the protests of educators and parents. At the time, one school board member said “buildings do not educate children.” The buildings that they deemed excess and converted to yeshivas were the only two that were not on the state list of buildings in need of repair. 

Pressure to convert public schools to yeshivas has not abated.

There is massive pressure from developers to create segregated neighborhoods that require infrastructure including non-public schools. According to the lawyer for one yeshiva, there is competition with residential builders for land, and “the pressure is intensified” when the East Ramapo school district hasn’t “sold any of its sites as surplus.” 

Why vote YES?

The children need well functioning buildings. Passing these resolutions will result in better school environments for our children.

Yes, the school board could turn around and try close a newly renovated building, and sell it to their friends for pennies on the dollar, but we cannot allow ourselves to descend into hopelessness and despair.

Public school advocates now include: Strong East Ramapo, Padres Unidos of East Ramapo, Rockland Clergy for Social Justice, We The People, The NAACP, Advocates for Justice, East Ramapo Underground, and more. Elected officials at the local, state and national level have become involved. The school board has earned national and even international notoriety for their callous treatment of children.

In short, now is not the time to give up hope!

ONE MORE THING:

Each year, when the school budget comes up, voters where the majority of students go to yeshivas vote NO for the public school budget. Will they vote YES for the renovations? Are they hoping these buildings will one day be converted to yeshivas, like Hillcrest and Colton? How can they vote down money for teachers, and allow it for buildings, while at the same time we are told “buildings do not educate children”?

Despite this apparent hypocrisy, we must offer ALL the voters a chance to support BOTH sound schools buildings AND the educational programming they need to complete their education and be college ready.

The next vote will be in May. Superintendent Wortham must offer a budget that is based on the students needs. Just as ALL the voters are expected to support building renovations, ALL the voters should be expected to support quality programming. That includes small class sizes, collaborative classes for special needs, business classes, vocational classes, advanced placement, as well as support staff such as social workers, guidance counselors, etc.

These are needed for our children. There is no such thing as someone else’s children. They are all ours. They are our future. They are your legacy and mine, together. If there are some who don’t see it, we still can’t walk away from it. Thanks to all of the Power of Ten readers, I know there are many public education advocates working for justice in East Ramapo.

Teachers ask for State Protection

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Teachers ask for State Protection
2. Action Opportunity: Stop Town Tax Ripoff
3. NAACP: Conditional Support for School Bond

1) Teachers ask for State Protection

In a Community View in the Journal News, the president of the Rockland County Teachers Association calls on the state to change rules for funding private-school programs: State must prevent the ‘next’ East Ramapo

This is one of the the most important letters ever published on the subject. It is worth a subscription to the Journal News just to read this one letter!

The letter is on behalf of the Rockland BOCES Staff Association, the Clarkstown Teachers Association, the Nanuet Teachers Association, the Nyack Teachers Association, the North Rockland Teachers Association, the Education Association of South Orangetown, the Pearl River Teachers Association and the Ramapo Teachers Association.

2) Action Opportunity: Stop Town Tax Ripoff

In the last edition of The Power of Ten, I reported that the Town of Ramapo is charging East Ramapo an estimated $1.2 million per year for collecting taxes, a service that other towns provide for free.

The superintendent of Ramapo’s other school district, Ramapo Central, has written a Community View in The Journal News asking readers to tell Cuomo to sign a bill that empowers school districts to collect their own property taxes. This bill has already been passed and is waiting for the governor’s signature.

Action Opportunity: Please go to the following link: www.ramapocentral.net/district/advocacy which has been set up to assist the community in reaching out to the governor.

3) NAACP: Conditional Support for School Bond

Willie Trotman, the president of the Spring Valley NAACP, has written a letter to the Journal News giving conditional support for the upcoming bond vote. His support is conditional because the school board just sold two schools which had been renovated as public schools, and then opposed legislation which would prevent them from doing it again.

No one knows better than Mr. Trotman the terrible impact that dilapidated schools are having on our youth. He is asking the state in this letter to guarantee that they will prevent our public education system from again being the victim of real estate speculators.

The East Ramapo school board is a pariah, a rogue board which has abandoned its mission. They cannot complete the function of “trustees” if they cannot be “trusted”. They haven’t admitted wrongdoing and they haven’t changed their ways. They will have to be watched every second until an alternative governance system is implemented.

The school board could have guaranteed a pass for the bond vote, and extra state aid just by allowing more state oversight. The state could have passed the oversight over the objections of the board.

So the first two “NO” votes for the bond are really coming from the school board and NY State.

The NAACP deserves credit for putting the kids first. They are saying “YES” even if it is conditional. Right now they are down 2-1, but the state could still step up and provide the oversight Mr. Trotman is asking for. That second “YES” from NY could be the deciding factor.

What Happened to Your School Tax Dollars?

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Vote on Tuesday Nov 8
2. Yeshivas get Tax Dollars – for What?
3. Town of Ramapo Takes from School Taxes – Why?

1) Vote on Tuesday Nov 8

There are many important local elections this year. A complete list is available from The Journal News at http://www.lohud.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/10/21/whos-on-ballot-rockland-candidates/92408902/

Preserve Ramapo has also endorsed several candidates this year. They are: Ellen Jaffee, State Assembly 97th District; Tom Deprisco, State Senate 38th District; Ken Zebrowski, State Assembly 96th District; Howard Gerber, Rockland County Court Judge; Pat Loftus, Rockland County Court Judge; and Bill Weber, Ramapo Town Council.

There will also be a candidates forum hosted by the NAACP and JAMCARR:

Thursday, November 3rd , 2016 @ 6:30PM
Louis Kurtz Center
Main / Madison Avenue
Spring Valley, NY

Correction: In the last issue I misidentified the Assembly District of Ellen Jaffee. She is in the 97th AD. Please do not fail to vote for Ellen Jaffee, if you live in her district. If you do not, find out how you can help her campaign by visiting her webpage at http://www.ellenjaffee.com/

2) Yeshiva Parents to Dr. Wortham: Educate Every Child

NY State law and the regulations of the Commissioner of Education clearly place the responsibility for compulsory education of minors on the desk of the Superintendent of Schools. On October 26th, Naftuli Moster, an advocate for parents of students in East Ramapo yeshivas, spoke at the school board meeting and officially put Dr. Wortham and the board on notice that many, if not most students in yeshivas in East Ramapo are not receiving an education as required by law.

Please go to http://poweroften.us/ and sign the letter to Dr. Wortham asking her to prevent scare education resources from flowing to institutions where education is not provided.

3) Town of Ramapo takes money from East Ramapo schools

As reported in The Journal News, the Town of Ramapo is charging East Ramapo an estimated $1.2 million per year for collecting taxes. By comparison, the Town of Orangetown charges Pearl River only $60,000, and the Town of Clarkstown does not charge a fee at all!

Read the whole story: Rockland school district fights town tax fees

VOTE for Ellen Jaffee on November 8

Power of Ten Update

Special Edition: VOTE for Ellen Jaffee on November 8

If you are a resident of NY Assembly District 97, you have the privilege of voting to re-elect Ellen Jaffee

Assembly Member Jaffee has stood with the students and families of East Ramapo as we fought for state oversight of our school board. During the many trips we made to Albany, other assembly members often remarked at how persistent and persuasive she was. She is also sponsoring legislation to require that children who are not enrolled in public school are receiving an education.

For these reasons, I strongly urge every reader to vote for Ellen Jaffee on November 8. If you don’t live in her district, you can still help by donating or volunteering on her website: www.ellenjaffee.com

 

 

Board’s Actions Cost District Millions

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Full Day Kindergarten Begins
2. Board’s Actions Cost District Millions
3. Yeshiva pays $9 million for Temple Beth El

1) Full Day Kindergarten Begins

It was only three years ago that the district announced they were doing away with Kindergarten entirely. Now, because of constant pressure from parents and civil rights groups, ALL East Ramapo Kindergarten classes will be full-day!

The Journal News: Full-day K begins Oct. 6

Also, some of our favorite Art and Music teachers are coming back this year! We know  the children will appreciate that!

Special thanks are owed to Assembly Member Ellen Jaffee for her tireless work in securing the funds to make this happen. November 8 she is up for re-election, please make sure you get out to vote!

2) Board’s Actions Cost District Millions

Several actions of the school board have resulted in millions of dollars lost to the children’s education. Not only have these actions harmed the children, they have resulted in expense to taxpayers all over New York State who are now paying for services to East Ramapo.  Strong East Ramapo reports:

“In 2011, the School District entered into an energy performance contract with Johnson Controls, Inc. to install numerous energy efficient controls and devices throughout the School District’s buildings. It seems that no actual contract was signed and approved by both parties. The School District was unable to secure financing for the project and was unaware that work had commenced. Johnson Controls claims to have done close to $1.9 million of work. The School District believed it should not be required to pay Johnson Controls the required amount as funding was not secured prior to Johnson commencing work done. This matter proceeded to mediation. The mediation session took place on Monday, September 12, 2016. There is now a Board approved agreement between the School District and Johnson Controls to pay $1 million over a five-year period starting in fiscal year 2017-18. The School District’s 2017-18 proposed budget will include the first payment of $200,000.”

In 2015, the East Ramapo School Board sued its insurer, New York Schools Insurance Reciprocal (NYSIR), to cover $2.23 million in legal fees the district owed its defense teams, the New York State Supreme Court ruled last year that the district was overcharged by $2 million, saying “a reasonable fee for the legal services provided is $187,500.”

“In April 2016 New York State Insurance Reciprocal (NYSIR) made a decision to drop coverage for East Ramapo Central School District. This decision negatively impacted the School District as it had to seek new insurance coverage in a very short time notice. There was no single insurer that offered to commit in insuring our School District. The insurance costs increased by over $900,000 on annual basis. The School District will continue working to identify efficiencies to accommodate this additional cost for the fiscal year 2017-18 and beyond.”

This negligence is inexcusable: $2 million in overcharged legal fees, $1 million per year in extra insurance costs, $1 million dollars in unauthorized spending for “energy performance” work that no one seemed to know was happening. That’s $4 million alone that could have been spent on children’s needs. Students, families, taxpayers deserve much, much better.

3) Yeshiva pays $9 million for Temple Beth El

The Journal News: Auctioned Reform temple to become Satmar school

Temple Beth El was sold at auction. More than 100 buyers expressed interest, and four made bids over $8 million. The property included a 32,000 square-foot building on a 5.6 acre lot. The price is attributed to ongoing high demand for space by nonpublic schools.

Compare this to Colton Elementary, a 62,000 square-foot building on 15 acres, which the East Ramapo board sold for $6.6 million (minus rental credits), or Hillcrest Elementary, a 62,000 square-foot building on 11 acres, which was sold for $4.8 million. The value of these schools was estimated as over $10 million each. Even that amount now seems low in comparison.

Summary:

  • Temple Beth El: 32,000 sq ft. on 5.6 acres: $9 million
  • Two East Ramapo Schools: 120,000 sq ft. on 27 acres: $11 million

Both East Ramapo schools were sold to yeshivas by a school board that was found to favor the interests of yeshivas by a state monitor. The sales were closed while the monitor was doing his investigation.  Attorney General Schneiderman was aware of fraud by an appraiser hired by the district, but has not acted regarding the school board or the yeshivas (yet). 

While Dr. Wortham and Commissioner Elia and the teachers and parents and advocates are all working so hard and so diligently to improve the educational experiences of the children, we must assume that the school board is continuing its agenda to hand over more district real estate to their friends at bargain prices. There needs to be some fundamental change in the governance of the district to restore trust. 

Knowledge is Power

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Vote on Sept 13
2. Public Hearing Sept 7
3. Knowledge is Power

1) Vote on Sept 13

With all the attention in the media focused on the Presidential Election, many people may not be aware that September 13 is also an Election Day. This year, we have two races (at least) in which East Ramapo is an important election issue.

Ellen Jaffee has been a leader in the effort to get NY State to intervene in East Ramapo. She represents the 97th NY Assembly District, parts of which are in East Ramapo. She is being challenged in the Sept. 13 Primary Election,  She is very well respected by her colleagues, which has kept East Ramapo high on the agenda in Albany. As we continue to pressure Albany to intervene, her skills and reputation will be indispensable.

Krystal Serrano is running in the September 13 Primary for the 98th Assembly District. Like Ellen Jaffee, she believes that NY State must do more to protect public education in East Ramapo. Her opponent is the former East Ramapo School Board member whose tenure was marked by the closure and sale of public schools, massive escalation of legal bills, and schemes to use public dollars to pay for private tuition.

Please do not fail to go out on Sept. 13 and vote! If you don’t live in one of these districts, you probably know at least one person who does. Please make a personal effort to encourage people to vote for these two supporters of public education.

A Candidate Forum will be held THIS THURSDAY:

NAACP and JAMCCAR Candidate Forum
Thursday, September 8th, 2016 @ 6:30PM
Louis Kurtz Center
9 N. Main St.
Spring Valley, NY

2) Public Hearing Sept 7

In June, NY State passed a law to bring $3 million in extra state aid to East Ramapo.

The district is planning to use the money to provide:

Full-day Kindergarten for ALL
Various Arts Programming in Elementary School
More Collaborative Classes

Full details are available on the district web page

There will be a public hearing THIS WEDNESDAY: 

Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 7:30
105 S. Madison Ave
Spring Valley.

3) Knowledge is Power

You may have noticed that Power of Ten Updates are not always keeping up with all the latest developments.

I recommend that everyone sign up for the Strong East Ramapo list, which provides more frequent updates with more detailed reports. Strong East Ramapo also has a FaceBook group which has even more info.

 

Board Annuls Election Results – Community Responds

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. MLK Center Party was a success!
2. Board Annuls Election Results – Community Responds
3. Petition for Equivalent Education Continues to Grow

1) MLK Center Party was a success!

Thanks to our sponsors, committee members and professionals who lent a hand, and the nearly 200 people who came out on a rainy day to lend their support.

If you missed the party, you can still support the center. Click HERE to donate.

 

2) Board Annuls Election Results – Community Responds

The East Ramapo School Board has annulled the election of Sabrina Charles-Pierre. The board president claims that he forgot that Sabrina needed to be sworn in within 30 days after she was elected, which is required when an election is to fill a vacancy. During the past five years there have been several elections to fill vacancies, and the process of swearing in within 30 days was never forgotten. Both board president Weissmandl and trustee Grossman were elected to fill vacancies in 2014, and both were sworn in within 30 days. 

Strong East Ramapo has started a petition calling on Weissmandl to resign. Please sign and share.

There will be a rally at the next board meeting. Please do not fail to be there!

Details of the Rally: Tuesday, August 9 at 7:00 PM at the East Ramapo District Offices, 105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley NY.

3) Petition for Equivalent Education Continues to Grow

Attention to the issue of equivalent education continues to get mainstream media attention:

The NY Daily News: EXCLUSIVE: 1,500 sign petition urging Mayor de Blasio to approve mandatory science, math and history lessons for Orthodox Jewish students

Please sign the petition today!

 

Legendary Party Sunday (Not Saturday!); Pressure Mounts for Equivalent Education

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Legendary Party Sunday (Not Saturday!)
2. Pressure Mounts for Equivalent Education

1) Legendary Party Sunday (Not Saturday!)

I don’t want you to miss this Party! It will be LEGENDARY!!!

That’s why I am publishing this important CORRECTION: The MLK Center Summer Sand and Soul Party will be SUNDAY (Not Saturday as incorrectly reported in the last edition).

Full Details: http://mlkmpc.org/2016/06/28/summer-sand-soul-a-day-party-with-a-purpose-fundraiser/

2) Pressure Mounts for Equivalent Education

The movement to ensure equivalent education in New York is gaining momentum. The YAFFED petition now has over 1,400 signers! Have you signed yet? Please sign and share!

Also, several important articles on this subject have been published recently:

Haaretz: Bill De Blasio Must Not Let ultra-Orthodox Jewish Votes Override His Duty to the Law

City Limits: Ultra-Orthodox Yeshivas Need to Meet Their Educational Obligations

The Forward: My Hasidic Students Need You To Support Enforced Secular Education

The Forward: The Flawed Legal Reasoning That Says We Shouldn’t Force Secular Studies on Hasidic Jews

The Journal News: E. Ramapo schools improve, private schools’ ills linger

The Journal News: Hasidic teen risks shunning for schooling

The Journal News: Some E. Ramapo yeshivas fail to prepare pupils in secular studies

 

Why I Care

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Why I Care (Petition!)
2. Life is Not All Hard Work (Party!)

1) Why I Care

Our human family has been through a lot. Not so long ago we hadn’t figured out how to harness electricity. The smallest thing we knew of was the smallest thing you could see with your naked eye. No one knew how far away the sun or the stars were. Diseases were mysterious; there was no way of knowing anything as tiny as a microbe existed, or that it could kill you.

All of the knowledge and technology that we use and take for granted everyday was obtained through magnificent effort, by men and women who spent their lives increasing the library of human knowledge and achievement. They did this often in the most difficult of circumstances, overcoming war and oppression and ignorance.

This body of work has allowed us to travel, to communicate, and to fend off disease. The legacy belongs equally to all human beings. It is just as wrong to deny a child the light of knowledge as it is to deny a lifesaving medicine derived from that knowledge. One of the greatest contributions of science is the knowledge that we are all one family, linked by our 23 pairs of DNA.

This great storehouse of knowledge is an even more essential inheritance than any notarized will. Every one of us shares in the duty of executor of this greatest inheritance. This is why public education cannot be some line item on anyone’s balance sheet.

This is why ALL schools need to be safe, inviting, hospitable centers of learning and inquiry. This is why the state has a ethical duty, and in NY a constitutional obligation, to ensure that every child receives this inheritance, whether the child is in a public or non-public educational institution or in the home.

Not every child is receiving a quality education. The reason for this embarrassment is lack of political will. There are still too many people who don’t see all children as OUR children, and say “why should I pay for someone else’s child?”

There are even people who oppose education (but who hypocritically use all the technologies that are generated by it).

Malala was shot in the face for going to school. There is a group called Boko Haram in Nigeria whose name actually means “Western education is forbidden”. Here in NY the Grand Rabbi of the Kiryas Joel Satmar recently characterized subjects taught in public school as “disgusting”. He said he is glad that NY State has “turned a blind eye” to children in yeshivas who aren’t learning “general studies” (the subjects most people call English, Math, Science, and History).

There are many organizations advocating for better education. Malala survived the attempt on her life and has gone on to help educate many girls in her home country and around the world, including victims of Boko Haram. YAFFED is an organization in NY holding officials accountable for their duties under NY law.

Power of Ten has consistently advocated for the whole community to step up to our joint responsibility to the children enrolled in public education. This includes not only exposing the abuses of the East Ramapo School Board, but also supporting supplemental programs offered by organizations such as the Martin Luther King Center in Spring Valley.

Power of Ten has also asked readers to support Malala in her quest to provide education to every girl, and now to support YAFFED in its work to bring quality education to NY yeshivas. This is why I am making this personal appeal to you right now, to sign the YAFFED petition.

Please sign today: http://yaffed.nationbuilder.com/petition

2) Life is Not All Hard Work

It’s a fact. You have to take some time out to relax. Here is a chance to enjoy some great music, food, and company, and at the same time support supplemental education at the MLK Center!

It’s happening THIS SUNDAY, so get your tickets NOW: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/summer-sand-soul-a-day-party-with-a-purpose-tickets-26080370089

 

YAFFED Education Petition on Fire; MLK Party Will Be Legendary!

The Power of Ten

Extra Edition!

In the last issue, I brought to your attention two very important items. In the past three days, the response has been amazing:

1) The petition for equivalent education for yeshiva students already has over 800 signers!!!

If you have not yet signed, please do so now at http://yaffed.nationbuilder.com/sign_the_petition

2) The Kurz Family Foundation has generously created a matching sponsor donation for the Martin Luther King Center Summer Sand and Soul Party in Piermont. That means 100% of your ticket price goes to provide services for children at the Center!!! This is not some rubber chicken event, this is a real blast featuring legendary DJ Ruben (the Bull) Toro!!!

Get your tickets now at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/summer-sand-soul-a-day-party-with-a-purpose-tickets-26080370089

NY Intervenes for Public Students; Non-public Students Still Waiting

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Oversight is Law
2. Petition: All Children Deserve an Education
3. Summer, Sand & Soul – A Day Party With a Purpose

1) Oversight is Law

Governor Cuomo has signed the East Ramapo oversight bill, affirming that the district indeed merits special attention to ensure all students receive the education they deserve.

The law authorizes the State Commissioner of Education to oversee the upcoming district budget to meet students’ needs. In addition, the Commissioner can either approve or deny the sales of public assets, capital contracts over $100,000 and reductions in restored programs.

The district will also be eligible for three million dollars in aid for the 2016-17 school year. Here’s what will happen, according to the law:

— “In order to receive such funds, the school district in consultation with the monitor or monitors shall develop a long term strategic academic and fiscal improvement plan within 6 months from the enactment of this act.” This step is already underway.

— “Such plan shall be submitted to the commissioner for approval.”

— “The board of education of the East Ramapo central school district must conduct a public hearing on the expenditure plan and shall consider the input of the community before adopting such plan.”

— “The commissioner shall disburse the funds after receiving satisfactory evidence from the East Ramapo central school district that the district has complied with the approved comprehensive expenditure plan and spent such funds pursuant to the approved expenditure plan.”

More to come, but the acknowledgement from the Legislature and the Governor that East Ramapo needs state intervention to oversee its budget is an important part of rebuilding trust in our public institutions. While we will need to advocate for continued oversight and additional funds in the years to come (so these e-mail updates are far from over!), fixing the leaky pipe — even for one year, as a start — has been a critical priority in this journey to justice. Thank you to the lawmakers and advocates who made this milestone possible.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through our advocacy, it’s that democracy is slow and hard. I cannot reiterate enough that we are not satisfied and we are not done. But I hope you’ll enjoy your fireworks a little bit more this time around. 

– Andrew Mandel

(editor’s note: this article was written by Mr. Mandel right before the 4th of July; the lateness is my fault, not his. If you are looking for a great way to celebrate, see the party invite below!)

2) Petition: All Children Deserve an Education

In less than two months, tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic boys will be returning to their Yeshivas where they will continue to be denied a basic education in English, math, sciences, and social studies

unless…

the NYC and NYS Departments of Education act quickly and begin enforcing the laws already in place that require non-public schools to provide an education that is “substantially equivalent” to that of public schools.

Will you speak out on behalf of those helpless children — who are about to be harmed for life — and demand that the city and state take quick action?

You can help make a difference by signing this petition and it only takes two minutes!

Sign the Petition Now

3) Summer, Sand & Soul – A Day Party With a Purpose

Join us for a fun summer day party benefiting critical Children’s Programs at the Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center, serving children attending schools in the troubled school district of East Ramapo, NY. Our venue, Pier 701 Restaurant & Bar in Piermont, NY, has the largest waterfront deck in the region and its own private beach.

WHEN: Sunday, July 31, 2016 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM
WHERE: Pier 701 Restaurant & Bar – 701 Piermont Avenue, Piermont, NY 10968

We are excited to feature legendary DJ Ruben (“the Bull”) Toro. Ruben was a fixture at the famous Club Shelter, and host of #1 rated Kiss Club Classics (Saturday night 98.7FM) and WBLS-FM. Expect a hot summer vibe, with classic soul, funk, house, old & new school favorites, and more.

Tickets will include a buffet-style meal with summer favorites. Feature drink specials will help make this soulful Sunday overlooking the water an event you won’t want to miss! Proceeds from this event will go directly to support the Center’s Children’s Programs.

Click Here to Purchase Your Tickets Today

2016 Election Results

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Election Results
2. StrongER Students Group Has Arrived!
3. Rockland Youth Film Festival Accepting Submissions
4. The Hudson Tribes Scholarship Fund

1) Election Results

Many thanks to those who assisted and voted this year. Once again, East Ramapo voter turnout was more than double the numbers from other school districts. One of the #4Women4ALL candidates, Sabrina Charles-Pierre, was elected to serve a three year term. 

The Budget passed in East Ramapo, as it did in all Rockland districts. It passed despite continuing lack of support from communities that largely send their children to private yeshivas (Jewish religious schools). At one polling place, support for the budget was only 8%!!!  No where else in Rockland was there such a poor showing of support for the public schools.

It was only because the turnout and support at other East Ramapo polling places was so high that the budget passed. Three East Ramapo polling places had over 70% of the voters casting a YES vote!!! No other district in Rockland (perhaps in NY State?) had a polling place with over 70% YES turnout. 

2) StrongER Students Group Has Arrived!

On May 20, East Ramapo students from Ramapo High School and Spring Valley High School held a rally for their education at Memorial Park in Spring Valley, NY. See what the students are saying on Tony Luciano’s YouTube channel. They are using ‪#‎strongERstudents‬ and ‪#‎onlyineastramapo‬. 

3) Rockland Youth Film Festival Accepting Submissions

Presented by the youth from Spring Valley Commons, the EELEF Center, and associated sponsors, RYFF is a yearly international film festival showcasing movies made by filmmakers 21 years old and younger from the Rockland County area and around the world.

RYFF is now accepting film submissions for their 2016 Film Festival.

More info: www.ryff.org/

4) The Hudson Tribes Scholarship Fund

LPZ Media and La Unidad Latina Foundation, in association with Tender Steps of NY, Inc., are partnering to engage and support the students impacted by the events in the East Ramapo School District.

Director John Marco Lopez of LPZ Media captured the sociopolitical divide that exists at the center of the struggling school district in a small Hudson Valley town just north of Manhattan through his film, “The Hudson Tribes”. Centered on the issues of public education in the United States, “The Hudson Tribes” serves as a call to action for the East Ramapo community.

LPZ Media and La Unidad Latina Foundation will award 4 scholarships to college bound students who have been adversely impacted by the political and social issues plaguing the East Ramapo School District.

The 4 scholarship recipients will receive $1,000 each, as a onetime award paid directly to the student.

We appreciate your support and assistance in distributing the scholarship applications to high school seniors within Ramapo High School and Spring Valley High School.

Application Link: “The Hudson Tribes” Scholarship Fund
www.lulf.org/apply

Application Deadline: June 9th, 2016

Vote Tuesday

Power of Ten Special Edition

Vote Tuesday

Message from our candidates:

1. Please mark your calendars and bring your friends to Vote on Tuesday May 17th!

2. We will be holding phone banks on Monday eve from 5:30 pm – 9:00 pmat El Mana restaurant on Main St Spring Valley (across from the Louis Kurtz Center) to remind voters of this important vote. Please let us know if you can help and bring your cell phone! We are also phone banking on Tuesday and can either send you a list or give it to you Monday eve.

3. Polls are open all day Tuesday 7:00 am – 10:00 pm at various locations , if you are available for any amount of time to hand out Palm cards outside of one of the sites please let us know where and when by sending an email to: qnskim39@aol.com

4. Lastly if you are aware of anyone who would like to vote but can not get there please call Kim at 914-282-1387 or Jean at 845-596-5713 and we will either drive them to the polls ourselves or arrange transportation.

Thank you and together we can do this and bring long awaited change and hope to our children and community!

Have a great day and take care,

Kim Foskew, Jean Fields, Natashia Morales, and Sabrina Charles-Pierre

Celebration, Remembrance, Service, Community

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. #4Women4ALL Event Today (Saturday)!
2. School Board Campaign Opportunity Tuesday April 19
3. Work, Eat, Play April 23
4. Celebration of the Life of Dr. Susan G. Gordon April 24

1) #4Women4ALL Event Today (Saturday)!

What: #4Women4ALL Door to Door Canvassing Day
When: Saturday April 16 at 1:30 PM
Where: Gene Levy Plaza, 200 N. Main St. Spring Valley NY (Parking lot near the police station)

Join us as we visit our neighbors to inform them about the May 17 school board and budget vote.

Sign up online: https://www.facebook.com/events/1729595517318054/

Campaign web page: https://eastramapotogether.wordpress.com/
FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/2016EastRamapoCandidates/

2) School Board Campaign Opportunity Tuesday April 19

Can you spare a little time on Tuesday? Please sign up online now! 

3) Work, Eat, Play April 23

By: Families for Education, Keep Rockland Beautiful, and the MArtin Luther King Multi-purpose Center

When: April 23 at from 10 AM to 5 PM
Where: Martin Luther King Multi-purpose Center, 110 Bethune Blvd, Spring Valley, NY

Two events in one day:

1. A Community Clean-up with Keep Rockland Beautiful from 10 am-1:30 pm
2. A Community BBQ from 1:30-5 pm.

Performances by:
The World Famous East Ramapo Marching Band
Dance Attitude
The MLK Step Team

Suggested donation/plate fee is $5.00 

4) Celebration of the Life of Dr. Susan G. Gordon April 24

Dr. Susan Gordon was one of the very special people who made East Ramapo a great school district. She served as president of the school board when the district was considered the best of the best. Sadly she passed away earlier this year.

There will be a celebration of her life on Sunday April 24 from 3:00 to 5:00 pm at the Cultural Arts Theater at Rockland Community College.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the CEJJES Institute in honor of Dr. Susan Gordon.

A personal note: I had the pleasure of attending when Dr. Susan G. Gordon and her husband Dr. Edmund W. Gordon were honored as “Living Landmarks” by the Rockland County Historical Society.  They were quite emphatic that the best way to honor their lifelong work is for each of us to become informed, involved and active. I encourage you to take that sentiment to heart. – Steven White, editor

Work, Eat, Play for a Better East Ramapo

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Thursday Community Forums Continue
2. #4Women4ALL Saturday!
3. Tender Steps April 17
4. Work, Eat, Play April 23
5. Fire Safety Instruction Reveals Tears in Social Fabric

1) Thursday Community Forums Continue

Join us once again as we continue our community conversation about East Ramapo issues. There will be presentations about the statewide push for all day Kindergarten. Meet the Candidates for School Board. Learn how you can be involved. See you there!

April 14 at 7:00 PM
Martin Luther King Multi-purpose Center
110 Bethune Blvd, Spring Valley, NY

2) #4Women4ALL Saturday!

What: #4Women4ALL Door to Door Canvassing Day
When: Saturday April 16 at 1:30 PM
Where: Gene Levy Plaza, 200 N. Main St. Spring Valley NY (Parking lot near the police station)

Join us as we visit our neighbors to inform them about the May 17 school board and budget vote.

Sign up online: https://www.facebook.com/events/1729595517318054/

Campaign web page: https://eastramapotogether.wordpress.com/
FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/2016EastRamapoCandidates/

3) Tender Steps April 17

Tender Steps of New York, Inc. “Building The Bridge” 3rd Annual Fundraiser

Sunday, April 17th, 2016 : 1PM-5PM at The Nyack Seaport, 21 Burd St, Nyack, NY 10960

Keynote speaker: Dr. Betty A. Rosa- Chancellor of the NYS Board of Regents
Guest Speaker: Mr. Kevin Lopez- Executive Director for LPZ Media ”The Hudson Tribes”
Comedy by Marc A. Gerber (Comic Strip Live comedian)
Honorees: Luis Nivelo, Jaqueline Polanco-Fernandez, and Ana Vila

for more info contact: (917) 447-7187 tenderstepsofny@gmail.com

4) Work, Eat, Play April 23

By: Families for Education & MLK Muti-purpose Center

When: April 23 at from 10 AM to 5 PM
Where: Martin Luther King Multi-purpose Center, 110 Bethune Blvd, Spring Valley, NY

As a community we are coming together and hosting (2) events in one day. A Community Clean-up from 10 am-1:30 pm & then community BBQ from 1:30-5 pm. The purpose of the event is to promote unity within the community and allow the community to meet the candidates who are running for East Ramapo School Board seats in the May 17th election. Come out and support your community. We will have performances by the East Ramapo Marching Band, Dance Attitude, and MLK Step Team. Many donations will be raffled off as well as a 50/50. Suggested donation/plate fee from public $5.00

5) Fire Safety Instruction Reveals Tears in Social Fabric

Whenever children are not doing well, we know the fault lies with us, the adults who shape their world. People are often quick to blame educators, but the truth is we are all responsible. Sometimes you have to get up close to see where the problem lies. This is the case with a fire and safety instructor who ended up learning as much from the children as they did from her. These children are living in a labor camp, in housing over-crowded and under-maintained. While their parents are off cleaning and building houses for those who are better off, the children are impacted by the consequences of exploitation and oppression. We are all used to seeing the new glittering castles and manicured shrubberies of suburbia; the groceries bagged and the laundry done by people whose skin is a shade darker than those who live in the rows of shiny new houses. We rarely get a glimpse into the lives of those from the other side of the tracks, and least of all into the hearts and minds of the children who suffer from the insecurities of poverty in a land of plenty. Thanks to a letter writer whose eyes were open, we get to see a little of what lies hidden in their young hearts.

JN Letter to the editor: Fire safety training reveals concerns of East Ramapo children

Monitor Bill Support is Growing

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue

1. School Board Race Underway
2. Tender Steps April 17
3. Strong-ER gets STRONGER!
4. Nice Work, Nanuet 
5. Correction

1) School Board Race Underway

The Journal News: Slate of four candidates campaign for East Ramapo BOE

News 12: School board seats up for grabs in East Ramapo

Campaign website: https://eastramapotogether.wordpress.com/

#4Women4ALL

2) Tender Steps April 17

Tender Steps of New York, Inc. “Building The Bridge” 3rd Annual Fundraiser

Sunday, April 17th, 2016 : 1PM-5PM at The Nyack Seaport, 21 Burd St, Nyack, NY 10960

Keynote speaker: Dr. Betty A. Rosa- Chancellor of the NYS Board of Regents

Guest Speaker: Mr. Kevin Lopez- Executive Director for LPZ Media ”The Hudson Tribes”

Comedy by Marc A. Gerber (Comic Strip Live comedian)

Honorees: Luis Nivelo, Jaqueline Polanco-Fernandez, and Ana Vila

for more info contact: (917) 447-7187 tenderstepsofny@gmail.com tenderstepsofny.org

3) Strong-ER gets STRONGER!

NEW HYDE PARK IS WITH US — Great news! New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District has joined the list of the now SEVEN Long Island school districts that have passed resolutions in favor of oversight with veto power for the East Ramapo School District. You can contact Senator Jack Martins’ office at 518-455-3265, letting him know that the New Hyde Park school board is supporting East Ramapo oversight with veto power (Senate Bill 3821), and he should join the bill as a co-sponsor.
Please also send a thank you note for the board to JRoberto@nhp-gcp.org.

4) Nice Work, Nanuet 

NICE WORK, NANUET — The following resolution in favor of East Ramapo oversight with veto power passed the Nanuet School Board in Rockland County last night:
Whereas, with professional guidance from the Superintendent, School Boards are responsible for decision-making and oversight of district funds (in a fiduciary role), infrastructure, resources, personnel, curriculum, and related programs with the overarching goal of providing a high-quality, equitable education for public school students and, as outlined by state law, to provide specific services and resources to private school students residing in the district; and
Whereas, when a Board consistently acts in a manner which diminishes the quality of education for students – public and/or private – stringent oversight is essential; and
Whereas, we concur with the Monitor’s report regarding the East Ramapo School District,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
1. The Nanuet Board of Education supports the appointment of a Monitor with veto power to ensure East Ramapo School Board decisions are in the best interest of all students.
2. The District Clerk is directed to send this resolution to Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee, Assemblymember Kenneth Zebrowski and State Senator David Carlucci.

5) Correction

A previous article was unclear about the new support for the bill for a monitor with veto power. It should have read:

The Rockland County School Board Association has sent a letter to Governor Cuomo and the chairs of the Education Committees of the Senate and Assembly endorsing the legislation for a monitor with veto power.  Six school boards from across Long Island have also expressed support for the bill by passing resolutions (latest news: now it is seven) in favor of East Ramapo oversight. Two County Executives have Joined with Rockland County Executive Ed Day in calling on Senator Flanagan to stop blocking the bill for a monitor with veto power. Senator Flanagan needs to hear from YOU too. Please sign our petition asking him to visit East Ramapo and see first hand that NY State cannot continue to ignore the crisis in governance of our schools.

#4Women4ALL

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. #4Women4ALL Saturday!
2. Martin Luther King Center Annual Awards Benefit Dinner Dance Sunday
3. Flanagan Increasingly Isolated

1) 4Women4ALL Saturday!

Who is running for school board this year? When is the election? How can I help? Answers to these questions and more will be available this Saturday at 1:30 PM in Spring Valley.

The candidates for East Ramapo school board invite you to attend a campaign rally and press conference.

What: #4Women4ALL School Board Campaign Rally
When: Saturday April 2 at 1:30 PM
Where: In front of the Spring Valley Police Station, 200 N. Main St. Spring Valley NY

Agenda:
1:30 Candidates will present their platform
1:45 Questions from the press and the public
2:00 Training for door to door canvassing
2:15 – 4:00 Door to door activity in Spring Valley
4:00 Meet for Pizza

Campaign web page: https://eastramapotogether.wordpress.com/
FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/2016EastRamapoCandidates/

#4Women4ALL are: Jean Fields, Kim Foskew, Natashia Morales, and Sabrina Charles-Pierre. They advocate for a quality education for ALL children in East Ramapo. They have a vision and goals for high academic achievement for all students that will inspire parents and other stakeholders to have confidence in the local public schools. They have a mix of skills and backgrounds that will help the school board represent the diversity of the East Ramapo community.

Jean Fields is the former principal of Ramapo High School. Kim Foskew is a former president of the East Ramapo PTA Council. Natashia Morales is a public school parent and activist. Sabrina Charles Pierre is a current school board member. Together, they are #4Women4ALL!

2) Martin Luther King Center Annual Awards Benefit Dinner Dance Sunday

The Board of Directors of the Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center Inc. is pleased to invite you to its 25th Annual Awards Benefit Dinner Dance!  Michelle Brown, Weekend Anchor and Emmy nominated reporter for News 12 Westchester will be our emcee for the evening!

Sunday, April 3
4:00 PM Reception, 5:00 PM Dinner/Dance
The Clubhouse at Patriot Hills, 19 Clubhouse Lane, Stony Point NY

Remembering and Honoring Dr. Susan Gordon

Honorees: Coach Andrew Delva; Mark Geller, MD; Hon. George Hoehmann; Kathy and Bill Lathrop; Rev. Weldon McWilliams Jr.; Ouida Foster Toutebon

For full details, visit: http://mlkmpc.org/events/2014-annual-awards-benefit-dinner-dance/

3) Flanagan Increasingly Isolated

Six school boards from across Long Island have joined the Rockland County School Board Association in passing resolutions in favor of East Ramapo oversight. Two County Executives have Joined with Rockland County Executive Ed Day in calling on Senator Flanagan to stop blocking the bill for a monitor with veto power. Senator Flanagan needs to hear from YOU too. Please sign our petition asking him to visit East Ramapo and see first hand that NY State cannot continue to ignore the crisis in governance of our schools.

Co-existence, Corruption, Criticism and Bigotry

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Pressure Mounts on Sen. Flanagan 
2. Strong East Ramapo in Long Island?
3. East Ramapo Yeshiva Funding Under Scrutiny
4. Co-existence, Corruption, Criticism and Bigotry

1) Pressure Mounts on Sen. Flanagan

Senator Flanagan, using his power as Majority Leader of the NY Senate, is preventing the passage of legislation designed to resolve the crisis in East Ramapo. His actions are highly unusual; normally a bill which addresses a local issue is not blocked by leadership as long as it has the support of the local community that it affects.

That support was reiterated last week by unanimous resolution of the Rockland County Legislature: 

The Journal News: East Ramapo: Resolution supporting monitor passes Rockland Legislature

The bill was written and sponsored by Assembly Members Ellen Jaffee and Ken Zebrowski and Senator David Carlucci, all of whom represent East Ramapo. The bill has been endorsed by the Rockland County School Boards Association, of which East Ramapo is a member. So there is NO QUESTION as to local support.

There is also expert testimony and broad support from around NY State:

The bill has the support of the NY State Education Department, the NY State Board of Regents, Governor Cuomo, and the NY State Assembly. There have been two studies by independent experts in law, finance, and education, which have ALL come to the same conclusion.

Now Senator Flanagan is being called out for his obstructionism:

County Executive Ed Day has written to Senator Flanagan expressing his disappointment over Sen. Flanagan’s opposition to a monitor with veto power:

The Rockland County Times: The County Executive’s Corner: Fighting For East Ramapo

County Executive Day has invited Senator Flanagan to join him on a tour of East Ramapo. 

Click here to urge Sen. Flanagan to accept the invitation.

2) Strong East Ramapo in Long Island?

The following messages are from Strong East Ramapo:

HUGE NEWS: SUPPORT FROM FLANAGAN’S OWN DISTRICT — I am proud to report that Three Village Central School District has joined our cause, passing a resolution in favor of an East Ramapo oversight monitor with veto power. Three Village includes the hamlet of Stony Brook, part of the district of Senate Leader John Flanagan, who has voiced strong opposition to our bill and is preventing it from getting to a vote. ‪#‎LongIslandStrongER‬

THANK YOU, NORTH SHORE — The North Shore Central School District’s Board of Education, which is located in Senate Education Chair Carl Marcellino’s district on Long Island, passed a resolution at a recent school board meeting in favor of East Ramapo oversight! ‪#‎LongIslandStrongER‬

How can you help? Please call Senator Flanagan’s district office (631-361-2154) and say: “I wanted to be sure that you knew that the Three Village School Board has passed a resolution in favor of East Ramapo oversight with veto power, so Senator Flanagan should reconsider his position on this issue.” The more people who remind his office of this news, the more concerned his office will become.

3) East Ramapo Yeshiva Funding Under Scrutiny

Billions of dollars are spent each year by the state and federal government to ensure that every child has the kind of quality education that will help him or her to develop into a productive, responsible citizen. Several recent investigations ask whether there are some who take that money without having any intention of delivering the service it was intended for. If this is the case, we hope that government will act quickly not only to recoup the funds, but also to ensure that no child will suffer from neglect of their civil right to an education.

The Journal News: FBI probe raises questions about yeshiva funding

4) Co-existence, Corruption, Criticism and Bigotry

Two excellent essays appeared this week in the media. The first, in the Journal News, analyzes co-existence and corruption in Ramapo and beyond. The second, by prize-winning author Shulem Deen and published in the Forward, looks at the difference between honest criticism and bigotry. I strongly suggest that you read both. The first might make you crazy, but the second will keep you sane!

The Journal News: Editorial: Room for all in Ramapo?

The Forward: Purim and Encounters With Bigotry — Including Our Own

Who is Failing Who?

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Tonight! 
2. Budget Meeting Schedule
3. MLK Center Honors Coach Delva
4. #4Women4All
5. Who is Failing Who?

1) Tonight! Legislature meets to reiterate support for monitor with veto power

Last year, the Rockland County Legislature passed a resolution supporting the recommendation of Fiscal Monitor Greenberg for a monitor with veto power.  Today, they will consider a similar bill supporting the same recommendation by the monitoring team of Walcott, George-Field, and Sipple. You are encouraged to attend!

March 15 at 7:00P.M.
11 New Hempstead Rd
New City, NY

2) Budget Meeting Schedule

The Superintendent will be holding a series of public forums on the 2016-17 budget. The schedule of the forums is available here.

There are also requirements by law that a budget must be finalized by April 26 – May 3, and  a public hearing must occur between May 3 and May 10. 

3) MLK Center Honors Coach Delva

Coach Delva is “The Coach Who Sets No Ceilings“. The Martin Luther King Multipurpose Center will honor him at their Annual Dinner Dance on April 3rd.

For full details, visit: http://mlkmpc.org/events/2014-annual-awards-benefit-dinner-dance/

4) #4Women4ALL

How many school districts in New York have zero women members? How many have only one out of nine? If you believe that women should play an important role in public policy decision making, you can express that feeling at the polls on May 17! 

#4Women4ALL!

https://eastramapotogether.wordpress.com/

5) Who is Failing Who?

All Rockland school districts were found to be in overall good standing except East Ramapo, which was given a focus designation for the second consecutive year.

The Journal News: State Ed: More East Ramapo schools are troubled

What makes East Ramapo unique is the many residents that don’t use public schools and don’t support public education.

In 2011, at one polling place (Freshman Center) only 4% of voters voted in favor of the budget. Most of the voters there send their children to private school.  Because the private school users outnumber those who use public schools, the budgets fail and programs are cut. 

At another polling place, in the same year, 84% of the voters voted yes for the budget.  Most of those voters were from areas where parents use public schools. These voters, mostly people of color, are a minority. Their commitment to education is high, but because state laws give local control to a local majority, their civil right to an education is ignored.

It is not reasonable to expect that this problem of a Not So Simple Majority is going to resolve itself. Two separate investigations by independent experts concluded that NY State laws must be changed. Their recommendations have the support of the Rockland County Legislature, The Rockland County School Boards Association, various religious and civil liberties groups, the State Education Department, and more. The bill has passed the Assembly but has yet to pass the Senate.

NY State is giving East Ramapo a failing grade. East Ramapo parents are looking the state right in the eye. They are asking “Who is Failing Who?”

 

A Great Coach Sets No Ceilings

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Thursday Community Forums Continue
2. The 2016 School Board Campaign has Begun
3. Support for Monitor with Veto Power Continues
4. A Great Coach Sets No Ceilings

1) Thursday Community Forums Continue

Join us once again as we continue our community conversation about East Ramapo issues. Learn how you can be involved. Meet the Candidates for School Board. See you there!

March 10 at 7:00 PM
Martin Luther King Multi-purpose Center
110 Bethune Blvd, Spring Valley, NY

2) The 2016 School Board Campaign has Begun

2016 is a year when women are asserting their equal right to be decision makers. Four school board members will be selected this year, and four women have stepped up to offer their service to the community as school board members!

Learn about the candidates and the campaign here: East Ramapo Coming Together 

Share the journey with them on the campaign Facebook page: 2016 Candidates for East Ramapo School Board.

#4Women4All

3) Support for Monitor with Veto Power Continues

A very well reasoned editorial and a joint letter from the NAACP and local rabbi emphasize the need for Albany to act:

Editorial: East Ramapo needs long-term support

Letter: Monitor can restore confidence in East Ramapo

4) A Great Coach Sets No Ceilings

The following essay is by Flose Boursiquot, an East Ramapo Alum:

If you have walked the halls of Spring Valley High School in the last 10 years, you’ve heard of Coach Andrew Delva Senior.

A Haitian-born ambitious man with a strong heart, Coach Delva has been a pillar in Rockland County for a over a decade. The Spring Valley High School Football Program is at the center of his heart, and he has recently taken to coaching track and field with the same spirit. Whether on the field or on the track, students have a deep appreciation for him.

Read the Whole Essay Here: A Great Coach Sets No Ceilings

 

Sunday: Honor Living Legend David Lipman

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. This Sunday: Honor Living Legend David Lipman
2. Thursday Community Forum Continues
3. 2016 Budget Talks Begin
4. March 8 CUPON Rally

1) This Sunday: Honor Living Legend David Lipman

The Trustees of the Historical Society of Rockland County Cordially Invite You to the Annual Dinner 2016

When: Sunday, March 6, 2016, 5-9 pm
Where: The View on the Hudson, 101 Shad Row, Piermont

Living Landmark Award: David Lipman, (SVHS, Class of ’39), and decorated U.S. Army veteran (Bronze Star)

Prepaid reservations are strongly recommended!

2) Thursday Community Forum Continues

Join us once again as we continue our community conversation about East Ramapo issues. Learn how you can be involved. See you there!

March 10 at 7:00 PM
Martin Luther King Multi-purpose Center
110 Bethune Blvd, Spring Valley, NY

3)  2016 Budget Talks Begin

This year the superintendent is asking the community to be involved in a process of crafting a budget that serves the students needs. Please come out and participate in one or more of the scheduled budget forums

4) March 8 CUPON Rally

CUPON Rockland invites you to their Rally on Tuesday:

Let’s show up at Ramapo Town Hall to demonstrate to the Town Planning Board that we object to overdevelopment and discriminatory housing. Please bring neighbors!

Date: March 8th, 2016
Time: 7:15 pm
Place: Town Hall parking lot, 237 Route 59, Suffern NY

Saturday Brunch Topic: “A District in Crisis”; Monday: “He Named Me Malala” TV Premiere

Power of Ten Update

In this Issue:

1. AAUW Brunch This Saturday Feb 27
2. CUPON Rally Tuesday, March 8
3. HE NAMED ME MALALA Global Television Premiere
4. “The Roof is On Fire”

1) AAUW Brunch This Saturday Feb 27

The Rockland County Branch of the American Association of University Women, Inc. 17th Annual Diversity Brunch will feature a panel discussion:

East Ramapo: District in Crisis

The East Ramapo School District has failed its public school students and families. The New York State Dept. of Education is investigating the functioning of the School District to develop options for improvement in the schools for all students.

Speaker Panel: Weldon McWilliams IV, Willie Trotman, Suzanne Young-Mercer, Melissa Denizard, Steven White

Saturday, February 27, 2016
10:30 AM to 1:00 PM

St. Charles A.M.E. Zion Church
432 Valentine Ave.
Sparkill, NY

$25.00 Advance Donations/$30.00 Door Sales
Reserve Now – Limited Seating

Contact: Ann Mulligan @ 845-893-2821

2) CUPON Rally Tuesday, March 8

Date: March 8th, 2016
Time: 7:15 pm
Place: Town Hall parking lot, 237 Route 59, Suffern NY

CUPON was formed to hold planning and zoning boards accountable. They are calling all citizens to join in a demonstration to show dissatisfaction with the Town’s approval processes. Following the demonstration they will attend the Planning Board meeting to oppose a re-vote on approval of the Bluefield Extension. More info is available at https://cuponrockland.wordpress.com/

3) HE NAMED ME MALALA Global Television Premiere

Big news! On Monday, February 29 at 8:00 pm, HE NAMED ME MALALA, the inspirational documentary about Malala Yousafzai’s life and her fight for girls’ education, will premiere commercial-free on National Geographic Channel.

Bring the inspirational message of education activist Malala Yousafzai’s story and fight for girls’ education to your home. On February 29, 2016, tune into National Geographic Channel for the global broadcast premiere of HE NAMED ME MALALA, an inspirational documentary film from Academy Award-winning director Davis Guggenheim.

http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/he-named-me-malala/

Share your passion for girls’ education and invite friends and family over to watch the film. Sign up to host a watch party in your home or community.

4) “The Roof is On Fire”

It is unbearable.

As I walk the second floor hallways of Ramapo High School every day, I hold my breath and walk quickly to get to my destination. As I sit in classrooms, I avert my eyes from the numerous brown/black spots of mold. These spots are not only present in the upstairs halls and classrooms, but also in the downstairs ones as well. As I converse with friends, I hear of students who have become sick because of these conditions.

It is intolerable.

It is extremely difficult to learn in such conditions. A school is to provide safe working conditions for faculty and learning conditions for students every single day; however, that is not the case at Ramapo High School under these conditions. There are immigrant students who are trying to learn English but are unable to focus on breaking a language barrier because of the horrid odor and appearance of the school. There are students who lack motivation to even come to school every day, and those students are less motivated to attend school because of these conditions. As an AP student and Black Achievement Award recipient, I even find it difficult to learn in these predicaments.

It is insufferable.

We were told that Senator Carlucci secured 1 million dollars to fix the leaky roof; however, the ceilings need to be redone as well. We must not “hooray!” this event rather nod our heads in acceptance. Why would we greatly applaud a grant of 1 million dollars when just last year our district rejected a 40 million dollar bond for repairs? In the grand scheme of things, the work in our district to ensure the safety of every single student is far from being done and we must work together, as a unified district, to get not only the roof at Ramapo High School fixed but all repairs done in the district. We must advocate for safe conditions for our students every day, even if “the roof is on fire.”

 – Ellen Sue Cola

(The writer is a Senior at Ramapo HS)

Jewish WWII Veteran Earns Living Landmark Honor

The Power of Ten

Special Edition: East Ramapo Alum to Receive Living Landmark Award

David Lipman, Spring Valley HS class of 1939, will be honored by the Rockland County Historical Society as a “Living Landmark”. The Society will present the award at their annual dinner on Sunday, March 6, 2016, from 5-9 pm at The View on the Hudson, 101 Shad Row, Piermont NY.

Lipman served as a Corporal in WWII, earning a Bronze Star while doing dangerous missions and being tortured by the Nazis. He bears witness to Antisemitism he experienced personally in the US and the horror of Nazi Germany. He also bears witness to the incredible positive power of quality public education in his own life and in his community.

His story was told by Mark Judelson in “Our Town” newspaper: Decorated WWII Jewish Veteran Gives East Ramapo School Board Lesson in History and in Decency

On September 9, 2015 he attended a meeting of the East Ramapo school board, and delivered a powerful reproach to the board members. Here is a transcript of his speech:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forum Thursday; Yeshiva Boys Deserve Better

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Forum Thursday
2. Cupon Meeting Wednesday
3. Yeshiva Boys Deserve Better
4. Alan Singer for Board of Regents

1)  Forum Thursday

Its time to start thinking about the May school board and budget vote! Last year’s candidates have maintained a presence on social media to give this year’s candidates a head start. The purpose of the forum is to discuss the issues concerning the quality education in our district, and to give those who would like to run for school board in 2016 an opportunity to present themselves to the community. 

What: 2016 School Board Candidates Forum Follow-up
Where: Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center, 110 Bethune Blvd, Spring Valley, NY 10977
When: Thursday February 11 at 7:00 PM

2) Cupon Meeting Feb 17

Reverend Weldon McWilliams IV, PHD, guest speaker.

Where: Hillcrest Firehouse, 300 North Main St, Hillcrest, NY
When: Wednesday February 17th at 7:00 PM

Note: Parking is available in the rear of the firehouse and across the street. Please do not park on the entry or exit ramps, or in front of the firehouse.

To learn more about Cupon: https://cuponrockland.wordpress.com/

3) Yeshiva Boys Deserve Better

In “Thousands of ill-educated yeshiva boys“, an Op-Ed in the NY Daily News, Naftuli Moster urges public outcry over the Education Department turning a blind eye to the lack of education in boys yeshivas.

Mr. Moster is also featured in a report by BRIC TV: Yeshiva Education in Brooklyn and One Student’s Departure, which includes an excellent analysis by David C. Bloomfield, an education policy expert. I highly recommend watching this news show in its entirety.

4) Alan Singer for Board of Regents

Alan Singer, a professor of teacher education at Hofstra University, has been a strong voice in advocating for state intervention in East Ramapo. He has been interviewed for a position on the NY State Board of Regents. To support his nomination, contact Steven McCutcheon, the State Assembly Program and Counsel Staff at mccutcheons@assembly.state.ny.us.

 

StrongER Needs You!

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. 2016 Candidates Forum Follow-up Feb 11
2. StrongER Needs You!
3. Children’s Legislative Forum Feb 5

1) 2016 Candidates Forum Follow-up Feb 11

Its time to start thinking about the May school board and budget vote! Last year’s candidates have maintained a presence on social media to give this year’s candidates a head start. The purpose of the forum is to discuss the issues concerning the quality education in our district, and to give those who would like to run for school board in 2016 an opportunity to present themselves to the community. 

What: 2016 School Board Candidates Forum Follow-up
Where: Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center, 110 Bethune Blvd, Spring Valley, NY 10977
When: Thursday February 11 at 7:00 PM

2) StrongER Needs You!

We need to reach all of the New York State Senators, and you can help:

Think of the people (friends, relatives, contacts) who live in New York State.  Send a message to them, pointing them to www.strongeastramapo.org/action, where they can very easily support us by just clicking on the link for their Senator. 

Here is a sample note that you can send to your friends:

Dear Friends,

As you may know, there’s a big injustice happening in the East Ramapo School District. The board has slashed services to the public schools and diverted funding to the exclusive private schools where their own children attend. Two different studies and four different experts have come to the same conclusion: the state needs to appoint a monitor who can reverse the decisions of this board when they are not in the best interests of the public school students. We need to pass a statewide bill in the Legislature to make this local change possible.

I am volunteering to help address this issue, and  I ask you to take just one moment to visit www.strongeastramapo.org/action, and send a message to your State Senator, indicating that you stand in solidarity with me and the children attending public school.

Thanks so much.

3) Children’s Legislative Forum Friday

Child Care Resources of Rockland, Inc., in conjunction with the Rockland Children’s Advocacy Network and its members, host a Children’s Legislative Forum every year to discuss how families, children, youth and the early care and education community are faring in Rockland County.

The Behavioral Health Challenges for Children Birth to Five Years in Rockland County
Friday, February 5, 2016
8:00 am-10:00 am | Breakfast: 7:30 am – Register now

Rockland Community College
Technology Center ● Ellipse Room
145 College Road ● Suffern, NY 10901

Please RSVP: 845.425.0009 x0 | info@rocklandchildcare.org

Time to Start Thinking About May

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. 2016 Candidates Forum January 28 – This Thursday
2. StrongER Needs You!
3. Keep Rockland Beautiful’s Annual Meeting – Wednesday
4. Children’s Legislative Forum Feb 5

1) 2016 Candidates Forum January 28

Its time to start thinking about the May school board and budget vote! Last year’s candidates have maintained a presence on social media to give this year’s candidates a head start. You can help by encouraging others to think about becoming candidates for school board. Or maybe you might be interested yourself?

What: 2016 School Board Candidates Forum
Where: Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center, 110 Bethune Blvd, Spring Valley, NY 10977
When: Thursday January 28 at 7:00 PM

Those who wish to run this year should fill in this google form.

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

2) StrongER Needs You!

We need to reach all of the New York State Senators, and you can help:

Think of the people (friends, relatives, contacts) who live in New York State.  Send a message to them, pointing them to www.strongeastramapo.org/action, where they can very easily support us by just clicking on the link for their Senator. 

Here is a sample note that you can send to your friends:

Dear Friends,

As you may know, there’s a big injustice happening in the East Ramapo School District. The board has slashed services to the public schools and diverted funding to the exclusive private schools where their own children attend. Two different studies and four different experts have come to the same conclusion: the state needs to appoint a monitor who can reverse the decisions of this board when they are not in the best interests of the public school students. We need to pass a statewide bill in the Legislature to make this local change possible.

I am volunteering to help address this issue, and  I ask you to take just one moment to visit www.strongeastramapo.org/action, and send a message to your State Senator, indicating that you stand in solidarity with me and the children attending public school.

Thanks so much.

3) Keep Rockland Beautiful’s Annual Meeting

Wed, January 27th @ 7:00 PM
Ramapo Cultural &
Performing Arts Center
64 N. Main Street, Spring Valley

~ A festive reception & lively conversation about KRB’s plans for 2016

~ Election of the 2016 Board of Directors

~ Featured Speaker: Richard Fuller

Rich is a Clarkstown resident and author of The Brown Agenda. He will be speaking about how he has been involved in cleaning up some of the most toxic sites around the world, many directly affecting child mortality rates. It’s so inspiring to see what can be accomplished by an individual who is able to think creatively and build coalitions to get things done!!!

KRB is excited to be hosting this event in a wonderful venue in the heart of Ramapo. We are looking forward to building on our relationships with nearby civic organizations, churches/synagogues, schools, government officials, etc. We hope to support the area with growing civic engagement and environmental awareness. So if you know anyone who lives in Ramapo or has an interest in the region, please be sure to invite them along!!

RSVP: info@keeprocklandbeautiful or call (845) 708-9164

4. Children’s Legislative Forum

Child Care Resources of Rockland, Inc., in conjunction with the Rockland Children’s Advocacy Network and its members, host a Children’s Legislative Forum every year to discuss how families, children, youth and the early care and education community are faring in Rockland County.

The Behavioral Health Challenges for Children Birth to Five Years in Rockland County
Friday, February 5, 2016
8:00 am-10:00 am | Breakfast: 7:30 am – Register now

Rockland Community College
Technology Center ● Ellipse Room
145 College Road ● Suffern, NY 10901

Please RSVP: 845.425.0009 x0 | info@rocklandchildcare.org

Parents to Albany: You WILL Fix This!

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. 2016 Candidates Forum January 28
2. StrongER Gets Albany Attention
3. Parents Sue NY State For Education Runaround
4. Children’s Legislative Forum Feb 5

1) 2016 Candidates Forum

What: 2016 School Board Candidates Forum
Where: Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center, 110 Bethune Blvd, Spring Valley, NY 10977
When: Thursday January 28 at 7:00 PM

Its time to start thinking about the May school board and budget vote! Last year’s candidates have maintained a presence on social media to give this year’s candidates a head start. You can help by encouraging others to think about becoming candidates for school board. Or maybe you might be interested yourself?

Those who wish to run this year should fill in this google form.

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

2) StrongER Gets Albany Attention

Politico NY, “the essential news source for and about the most powerful people in New York”, reported that about 100 parents and supporters traveled to Albany to advocate for a monitor with veto power for East Ramapo, putting East Ramapo in the top tier of advocacy issues at the State of the State event! The event was also covered by our own News 12.

We now need to reach all of the New York State Senators, and you can help:

Think of the people (friends, relatives, contacts) who live in New York State.  Send a message to them, pointing them to www.strongeastramapo.org/action, where they can very easily support us by just clicking on the link for their Senator. 

Here is a sample note that you can send to your friends:

Dear Friends,

As you may know, there’s a big injustice happening in the East Ramapo School District. The board has slashed services to the public schools and diverted funding to the exclusive private schools where their own children attend. Two different studies and four different experts have come to the same conclusion: the state needs to appoint a monitor who can reverse the decisions of this board when they are not in the best interests of the public school students. We need to pass a statewide bill in the Legislature to make this local change possible.

I am volunteering to help address this issue, and  I ask you to take just one moment to visit www.strongeastramapo.org/action, and send a message to your State Senator, indicating that you stand in solidarity with me and the children attending public school.

Thanks so much.

3. Parents to NY State: Stop Passing the Buck!

East Ramapo Parents are sick and tired of getting the runaround from NY State Education Dept. The have filed a lawsuit to force the state to intervene in the governance of the district. The parents are represented pro bono by Brad Elias of O’Melveny & Myers, and David G. Sciarra and Wendy Lecker of Education Law Center.

4. Children’s Legislative Forum

Child Care Resources of Rockland, Inc., in conjunction with the Rockland Children’s Advocacy Network and its members, host a Children’s Legislative Forum every year to discuss how families, children, youth and the early care and education community are faring in Rockland County.

The Behavioral Health Challenges for Children Birth to Five Years in Rockland County
Friday, February 5, 2016
8:00 am-10:00 am | Breakfast: 7:30 am – Register now

Rockland Community College
Technology Center ● Ellipse Room
145 College Road ● Suffern, NY 10901

Please RSVP: 845.425.0009 x0 | info@rocklandchildcare.org

We did it! Here are the next steps:

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. We surpassed our goal!
2. Phone the Governor
3. Martin Luther King Day
4. 2016 Candidates Forum

1) Fundraising Goal Surpassed!

Thanks to everyone who donated to our campaign, and special thanks to those who responded to yesterday’s appeal!

We raised $2,290 in 24 hrs to blow past our $25,000 fundraising goal for this campaign!

2) Call Gov. Cuomo

The debate over how to help the East Ramapo district will be among the top issues facing the state Legislature this year. It deserves to be mentioned in the Governor’s State of the State address on Wednesday.

Please now take 30 seconds to call the Governor’s office. The number is 1-518-474-8390, then press 3 to talk with a person. You can say, “I am calling to ask the Governor to include support for strong oversight for the East Ramapo School District in his State of the State Address.”

3) Martin Luther King Day

The sixth annual Martin Luther King Celebration 2016 will take place on Monday, January 18th. It will be a remarkable event with 117 sponsors and 100’s of supporters. The whole community is invited. The admission is free and food will be provided for everyone free of charge. Weldon McWilliams IV is the keynote speaker and there will be exceptionally good entertainment.

Please help us get the word out so we fill Ramapo High School in a great Unity Celebration which not only honors the great work of Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement but examines what has to be done to make our community, the nation and the world a better place for all.

What: Celebrate the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Where: Ramapo High School, 400 Viola Rd, Spring Valley NY

When: Monday, January 18th from 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Details: http://mlkmpc.org/2016/01/08/2016-martin-luther-king-day-celebration-ramapo-high-school/

Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1745327839029244/

4) 2016 Candidates Forum:

Its time to start thinking about the May school board and budget vote!

Last year’s candidates have maintained a presence on social media to give this year’s candidates a head start.

We will hold a public forum on Thursday January 28 to give an opportunity for all who would like to run for school board in 2016 to present themselves to the community. 

Our goal is to strengthen the unity in our community, and to provide the very best support to a unified slate of candidates.

You can help by encouraging others to think about becoming candidates for school board. Or maybe you might be interested yourself? The Center for Public Education says a good school board candidate should: have vision and goals for high academic achievement for all students; be able to 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 the school board represent the diversity of the community.

Those who wish to run should fill in this google form.

What: 2016 School Board Candidates Forum

Where: Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center

When: Thursday January 28 at 7:00 PM

Special Edition: Advocates for Justice

Power of Ten

Special Edition: Advocates for Justice

It seems like almost every time you pick up a newspaper there is some new injustice being done to the students of East Ramapo. You may ask yourself why isn’t someone doing something? Well, Advocates for Justice, a public interest, not-for-profit law firm has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit. The lawsuit seeks to hold those accountable to justice, and for the court to order an end to the school board’s abusive and unconstitutional practices.

Advocates for Justice represents parents and students for free, but has undertaken a fund-raising campaign to raise $25,000 for ongoing court expenses.

Thanks to many small donations from community members, to date they have raised $23,452 or 94% of the goal!!!

They have extended the campaign – one last time – to January 15.

With 5 days left, your tax deductible donation is urgently needed.

Please donate today!

Beloved Educator Passes; The Effect of Failed Budgets on Education

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Beloved Educator Passes 
2. Second Monitor Reiterates: No More Aid Without Veto Power
3. The Effect of Failed Budgets on Education
4. Join Us in Albany

1) Beloved Educator Passes

Patricia Simmons, beloved principal of Fleetwood Elementary, passed away on December 27. She was a true friend and cared deeply for the children she served. She was never afraid to speak truth to power.

The Journal News: East Ramapo elementary school principal dies

The Journal News: Simmons lifted her school, her staff, her children

NAACP statement on her passing: Pat Simmons, A Quiet Smile

2) Second Monitor Reiterates: No More Aid Without Veto Power

Dennis Walcott was interviewed by the Journal News about his report to the NY State Board of Regents. He explains his support for a monitor with veto power. He reiterates the findings of Hank Greenberg, who found that the problems are not the fault of any one person or group of people, but is an inherent flaw in the system of delegating control to a local agency.

3) The Effect of Failed Budgets on Education

 4) Join Us in Albany

Last year we rallied and lobbied in Albany for a bill which would have provided a monitor with veto power for East Ramapo. Our efforts were successful in getting the bill passed by the Assembly, but it was blocked from even being considered by the leader of the Senate.

Albany has a two year cycle for bills, which means the bill could still become law in 2016. We will again do everything in our power to make this happen. Not because it is the answer to all of the problems, but because it is the best first step we have at our disposal at this point in time. We are being told that it is possible that the bill will pass, and that the one thing most needed for it to pass is public pressure. From you!

There will be buses, but you must register in advance. You can register for the bus or get information on carpooling or going on your own at: http://www.strongeastramapo.org/jan-13/

 

Senator Flanagan is Wrong. Here’s Why:

Power of Ten Update

Special IssueSenator Flanagan is Wrong. Here’s Why:

Senator Flanagan says “we don’t need any new legislation” for East Ramapo. 

As Senate Majority leader, he is blocking legislation that passed the NY State Assembly, and that Governor Cuomo has said he would sign. This legislation is a compromise bill, which instead of removing the board and taking over the district would simply speed up the process of oversight by the State Education Department.

Senator Flanagan thinks the history of failure to hold the East Ramapo school board accountable is proof that they don’t need more oversight. I think he is wrong, and I hope he will change his mind.

Here is a proof that more oversight is needed:

The East Ramapo school board tried to use the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) as an excuse to use public funds to pay tuition in private religious schools. The NY State Dept. of Education (NYSED) found this was a violation of federal and New York state laws and regulations. The NYSED findings were upheld by the New York State Supreme Court and the NY Court of Appeals. Since the excuse of following the IDEA was invalid, transferring taxpayer funds to private religious schools was a violation of the fiduciary responsibility of the board.

It took NYSED five years and two lawsuits to stop the practice.

About the IDEA: Before of the IDEA, too often children with special needs were segregated and warehoused. The IDEA says children with disabilities must have an opportunity to be educated along with the rest of the children, in the “least restrictive environment”. If a school district is unable to accommodate a disability in a public school, then they must pay for that student to receive an education in a facility that does.

The school board also established a segregated environment within the public schools themselves.

The district used “Yiddish language” as an excuse. Whole wings and floors of buildings were set aside and apart, with different teachers, different schedules, even a different janitor. The NAACP filed a complaint to the Federal Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights. Once again, years went by before the district’s practices were found to be outside of the law. The district has now agreed to a plan, but whether and to what extent they will comply has yet to be seen.

The veto is not an extra power of the state, just a way for it to exercise it’s power in real time, before damage is done.

Altogether, there have been almost 10 years of delays in correcting district actions. These actions have cost the district millions of dollars and have contributed to cuts in programs and a decline in the quality of education. Had there been a monitor with veto power, obviously illegal practices would never have happened.

The board has  engaged in a practice of real estate decisions which have benefited private religious schools and harmed public education.

In 2008, a reorganization review process was flawed by incomplete collection of data on population and housing. The Mayor of the Village of Spring Valley appeared at hearings and testified that a $1 billion urban renewal project was currently underway, and that new housing starts would mean many more new enrollments in the district. He was ignored, and the district’s projections were low by 14%. Instead of declining, enrollment increased by over 1000 students.

The board used the flawed study as an excuse to close and then sell two school buildings. The sales of the buildings continued even after the enrollment increased.

In July 2010 Hillcrest school was sold for $3.1 million to Yeshiva Avir Yaakov (YAY). An appraisal of $5.9 million had been obtained before receiving bids. A second appraisal for $3.2 million, by Avi Vardi of Appraisal Group International, was done after the bids were opened.

Community activists discovered that the second appraisal was a fraud. It misrepresented a “comparable sale” of a school which, in fact, never occurred. That sale was listed as “Comparable Sale #2” of a school building sold for $1.9 million, however, records from the Town of Ramapo indicate “land only”. The property document indicate that it is a parking lot.

An investigation by the NY State Atty. General revealed that someone associated with YAY arranged for Vardi’s services in preparing the appraisal. Then, on July 16, 2010, a member of the East Ramapo Board emailed Vardi’s private cell number and other contact information to the Board’s attorney. Later that afternoon, that attorney hired Vardi to furnish his appraisal of the Hillcrest School to the District in time for a July 28, 2010, Board meeting.

The appraiser was found guilty of filing a false instrument. The Atty. General was unable to pursue the investigation into the role of the school board in obtaining the fraudulent appraisal because the school board sued the AG to prevent release of 1300 documents, claiming attorney-client confidentiality. The case is still open.

The Commissioner of Education annulled the sale. However, the board leased the building to YAY. Commissioner King then annulled the lease. The board then sued the Commissioner, but lost. YAY occupied the building the entire time. An independent valuation of the property concluded it was worth $11.32 million. Its final sale price was $4.85 million.

While the Atty. General was still conducting an investigation of the previous sale, and while the financial monitor, Hank Greenberg, was conducting his investigation, they sold the school again to YAY.

The school board continues to claim that because it has gotten away with all of the above, that is proof that a monitor with veto power is not warranted. Senator Flanagan (so far) agrees with them. I believe that any reasonable, unbiased individual with full access to the facts will come to the opposite conclusion. It is exactly because the school board has been so successful in gaming the system that the appointment of a monitor with veto power is necessary.

-Steven White, editor

PS: Strong East Ramapo is inviting you to accompany them to Albany on Wednesday January 13. I strongly support them and I hope to see YOU there!

PPS: Advocates for Justice is a public interest, not-for=profit law firm that has taken action on behalf of the children of East Ramapo in Federal Court. They are trying to raise $25,000 before the end of the year, and have almost reached that goal! Please give generously! Donations ARE tax deductible!

Bill for Monitor with Veto Power Gathers Momentum

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:
1. Join Us in Albany
2. Wieder Resigns
3. Superintendent Search Begins
4. Safety Still a Problem in East Ramapo Yeshivas
5. Please Donate to Advocates for Justice

1) Join Us in Albany

Earlier this year we rallied and lobbied in Albany for a bill which would have provided a monitor with veto power for East Ramapo. Our efforts were successful in getting the bill passed by the Assembly, but it was blocked from even being considered by the leader of the Senate.

Albany has a two year cycle for bills, which means the bill could still become law in 2016. We will again do everything in our power to make this happen. Not because it is the answer to all of the problems, but because it is the best first step we have at our disposal at this point in time.

The bill has new support, including the monitors who have been studying the district, The Rockland County Democratic Committee,  a new editorial by the Journal News, and several Jewish organizations. We are being told that it is possible that the bill will pass, and that the one thing most needed for it to pass is public pressure. From you!

There will be buses, but you must register in advance. You can register for the bus or get information on carpooling or going on your own at: http://www.strongeastramapo.org/jan-13/

2) Wieder Resigns

In the last Power of Ten Update, I asked you to contact Rockland County Legislators and urge them not to vote to re-approve Aron Wieder as Majority Leader. Apparently, your voice was heard, and he has withdrawn from the position. Thank you to everyone who participated!

3) Superintendent Search Begins

Many parents and students have expressed their appreciation for the breath of fresh air that Dr. Wortham has brought to our district. Some are already calling for her to remain. The school board has begun the process of deciding who will be the superintendent next year and going forward. They have posted a letter about the selection process, which includes some opportunities for input from the public. 

4) Safety Still a Problem in East Ramapo Yeshivas

A new investigative report by News 12 reporter Tara Rosenblum has revealed that fire safety is still a problem in many East Ramapo yeshivas. You may remember back on October 15 Power of Ten reported that a Spring Valley Fire Captain said many schools were unsafe. Tara Rosenblum deserves credit for doing investigative reporting that may save lives, rather than waiting for the disaster to make the news.

5) Please Donate to Advocates for Justice 

Our lawsuit seeks to return misused public funds to the district, remove the school board members, and ensure proper school board decisions and fiscal management for East Ramapo.

Advocates for Justice lawyers represent us for free, but there are court, deposition and discovery expenses. Please donate so we can continue this fight. Donations are tax deductible.

Please Make Your Tax Deductible Donation Today

 

Demand Better Leadership

The Power of Ten

Special Edition: Call to Action

If there is one person who is most responsible for the degradation of East Ramapo, it is Aron Wieder. In Nov, 2009, Aron Wieder brought Al D’Agostino to East Ramapo. In June of 2011, the school board majority, led by Aron Wieder chose Dr. Joel Klein  for Superintendent of schools. 

Last year, the majority of the Democrats in the Rockland County Legislature supported the oversight bill offered by Assembly members Jaffee and Zebrowski and Senator Carlucci. Mr. Wieder, as the leader of the Democratic majority, should have carried their message to Albany. Instead, he spearheaded the effort to block the legislation.

The Rockland County Legislature Democrats should not allow Mr. Wieder to continue in a leadership role. His record as Majority Leader is inconsistent with Democratic Party values. He put his own opinions ahead of his duty to his fellow legislators.

There are three Democratic Rockland County Legislators who supported the legislation for a monitor in East Ramapo but have not yet indicated if they will oppose a re-nomination of Mr. Wieder. They are Toney Earl, Aney Paul, and Alden Wolfe.

Please call the Legislature at 845-638-5100 and ask to speak to Toney Earl, Aney Paul, and Alden Wolfe. You may be directed to their constituent representatives.

Leave a message:

Thank you for continuing to support strong oversight for East Ramapo. I am calling to ask you not to vote to approve Aron Wieder as Majority Leader. Mr. Wieder does not support strong oversight for East Ramapo. He does not respect our views and he has failed to represent you as your leader.

Then, E-mail the same message:

Hon. Alden H. Wolfe, Chairman
WolfeA@co.rockland.ny.us

Hon. Toney L. Earl
EarlT@co.rockland.ny.us

Hon. Aney Paul
PaulA@co.rockland.ny.us

Thank you,

Steven White
Editor, The Power of Ten