2020-21 School Board Election Update

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. 2020-21 School Board Election Update
2. Remote Learning Continues?
3. Yaffed Gala

1) 2020-21 School Board Election Update

Due to the historic victory in the NAACP court action, voters in East Ramapo will use a ward system to elect school board members. This system provides that at least some of the school board members will be accountable to the communities of color whose children make up 95% of the students attending the public schools.

Each of nine ward areas will have their own representative on the board. Each voter will vote to select just the one board member who will represent the ward where they live. 

Both the May 2020 and May 2021 school board elections are cancelled. The new plan is for an election for all nine board seats in February 2021, and then gradually revert back to a system where three seats are chosen each year, starting in May 2022. There will still be a budget vote each year in May.

The new date for the school board election is Feb 2, 2021. All voting will be by mail-in ballot only. All voters will receive a ballot by mail sometime in January. Watch your mailboxes!

Board members will be required to live in the ward they represent. Some of the candidates who were running in 2020 lived in the same ward as each other, or in a ward where the current board member has had the support of the voters of color in the past. These board members and candidates talked it over, and unified around a common group of candidates who will work together for this election, and will continue to work with the community to maintain the unified voice in support of quality education. 

The candidates who were part of the 2020 campaign but who have graciously steeped back for the sake of unity in our community are Kerry Victor and Ana Maeda Gonzalez. They really worked hard and demonstrated the true meaning of teamwork. Our heartfelt thanks go to both for their selfless devotion to the children.

The candidates this for the 2020-21 election have their own webpage: https://eastramapotogether.wordpress.com/. Please visit that page for all the campaign information and updates.

2) Remote Learning Continues?

East Ramapo was among the first districts in the nation to experience school closures due to the pandemic. The impact has been most damaging to those who were most vulnerable. Many students have not been getting remote education due to lack of devices to access the internet and to language and literacy barriers. The numbers are shocking. According to The Journal News, as of October 22, nearly 47% of students were considered chronically absent

The new superintendent, Dr. Giamartino, has begun distributing thousands of Chromebooks and has also made arrangements for thousands of free Wifi hotspots. Hopefully the next report of attendance will be substantially better!

3) Yaffed Gala

The public school children are not the only victims of the misconduct of the East Ramapo school board. There are also many children in East Ramapo’s yeshiva system of religious schools who have not been getting the education which is their civil right under the NY State Constitution. Just as the public school children will not get the education that they deserve until NY State finally intervenes, many in the yeshiva system will not get adequate secular education until NY State addresses it. Thanks to the education advocacy organization Yaffed (Young Advocates for Fair Education), the state is currently in the process of implementing new guidelines to replace those that have been ignored by the school board.

You can support the work of Yaffed by attending their virtual gala

 

 

Election Day is Here!

Power of Ten Update
Special Edition: Election Day is Here

Many people have already cast their ballot by mail or voted early. If you have not yet voted, the last chance will be Tuesday, Nov 3, at your regular polling location.

Elections can have an impact on the quality of education in our schools. Please be aware of the records of these candidates as you cast your ballot:

Ellen Jaffee has done more for oversight of the East Ramapo public schools than any other elected official. With your help, she will continue to take our fight to Albany.

Elijah Reichlin-Melnick stood up for more oversight of the East Ramapo school board, and publicly opposed the political machine that asked him to pledge to vote against oversight. He will be our next State Senator with your help.

Mondaire Jones graduated from East Ramapo went on to to Stanford University and Harvard Law School. He will bring our fight to Washington!

 

Early Voting Starts Saturday Oct 24

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Early Voting Starts Saturday Oct 24
2. Portraits of the Healers

1) Early Voting Starts Saturday Oct 24

Elections can have an impact on the quality of education in our schools.

Mondaire Jones graduated from East Ramapo went on to to Stanford University and Harvard Law School. He will be our next Congressman with your help. 

Elijah Reichlin-Melnick stood up for more oversight of the East Ramapo school board, and publicly opposed the political machine that asked him to pledge to vote against oversight. He will be our next State Senator with your help.

Ellen Jaffee has done more for oversight of the East Ramapo public schools than any other elected official. With your help, she will continue to take our fight to Albany.

This year, people have many options to cast their vote. They can vote in person on election day. They can vote early at a voting center. They can vote by mail.

All information on how to vote is available on the board of elections webpage: https://rocklandgov.com/departments/board-of-elections/

2) Portraits of the Healers

Every once in a while, a news report, a podcast, some kind of media information outlet will make you stop in your tracks. Make you sit down and think. Make you pull your car off to the side of the road and cry.

Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt has released a powerful collection of stories from Orthodox doctors and nurses, telling us in their own words how they “struggle to balance emotion and expertise” in their life and death battle with the COVID virus, and their frustration when facing misinformation, mistrust and skepticism when they return home to Orthodox communities.

Portraits of the healers: Orthodox doctors and nurses in their own words

Orthodox Non-compliance Leads to Public School Closures

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Orthodox Non-compliance Leads to Public School Closures
2. MLK Center Gala
3. One Community

1) Orthodox Non-compliance Leads to Public School Closures

East Ramapo schools have been closed for at least an additional two weeks due to the new COVID clusters in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

According to Governor Cuomo, other “schools are closed because they happen to be in that cluster, but the issue is with that ultra-orthodox community,”

The Governor also said “They have never been following the regulations with any rigor… now you see the result.”

This comes as no surprise to East Ramapo residents, who have been seeing school buses non-stop since the pandemic began. Documents obtained by FOIL reveal that yeshivas evaded fines for illegal operation by relabeling themselves as “childcare centers”.

Amazingly, while East Ramapo public schools are now closed, yeshivas continue to be open, whether as “childcare” or otherwise.

The response to Governor Cuomo’s new restrictions has been fierce. In NYC, angry mobs attacked a Jewish reporter, calling him a “moser” (yiddish for snitch). Some are trying to manipulate the tests results to make the positive rate appear lower than it actually is. According to reports in The Forward: In Orthodox WhatsApp groups, a message is being shared: “DO NOT test your child for covid … The city has released new guidelines that mandate CLOSURE of an ENTIRE SCHOOL if there are two positive tests in the school.” In Rockland County, one yeshiva sent out a letter to parents warning them that if a child is tested and receives a positive result, “potentially many other kids will be prevented from attending Yeshiva.”

The animosity of many in the ultra-Orthodox community to basic science and health principles is a result of lack of basic science and health education in their yeshiva system. As revealed in a previous edition of Power of Ten, the CEO of the Yeshiva Association said they are “not focused now on historyscience … We are focusing mostly on English … So when superintendent comes to visit she will be able to communicate with the students”. Just as with the response to COVID, the CEO (along with the East Ramapo school board president!) are more interested in gaming the system than in the education, safety and health of the children.

2) MLK Center Gala

On Sunday, October 18 at 7 pm, the Martin Luther King Multipurpose Center (the Center) will host a virtual party to celebrate its students and to raise needed funds. The evening will feature streamed performances on Facebook; hosts will update viewers about the Center’s progress including a land acquisition for an outdoor space where Center children can safely play.
Gala performers include jazz vocalist Shirley Crabbe; R&B band Cee Songbird and the Sound Travelers; saxophonist and performer Herve Alexandre; award-winning urban folk singer-writer KJ Denhert; the Eddie Vazquez Band and more. The Center children will present a selection from The Lion King, choreographed by TaShawn Pettiford.

Though the pandemic didn’t interrupt the Center’s 56 year record of serving the community, it did force the cancellation of its two annual fund-raising events. As a result, the Center urgently needs money to cover the shortfall in order to continue offering essential services such as:
• A food pantry that feeds hundreds of families a month. As Rockland’s County’s third largest food bank, the Center is on track to distribute 400,000 pounds of food;
• Health services such as last spring’s COVID testing site, on-going Red Cross blood drives and a range of free medical services for the community;
• Modified summer and after school academic and cultural programs for children.

The Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center serves families in the heart of Rockland’s most diverse and culturally vibrant community, where the pandemic struck hardest. The community experienced the highest rates of illness, death, food insecurity and academic slide due to school closures. As students all over Rockland remain isolated in homes with the latest technology, too many of the Center’s children lack access to laptops, tablets and adequate internet service.

The Center gratefully acknowledges its sponsors Devon and Jason McCourty, Rockland’s own Boston Patriot football heroes, and the M&T Bank Foundation.

Eventbrite link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/entertain-empower-educate-a-virtual-benefit-event-tickets-124196351631
Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/mlkmpc

3) One Community

In East Ramapo, we are often told that we are “One Community”. The global pandemic has brought this point home with ferocity. The virus does not discriminate. However, it does illuminate the discrimination that already exists in our society. Here in East Ramapo, the racial divide is a chasm. The district is diverse, but there are all-white neighborhoods. The majority of students in the district are white and attend private school. 62% of the public school students are Latino, but there is not a single Latino on the school board. Many of the public school mothers work in the homes of the white students, doing their laundry, washing their dishes, scrubbing their floors etc. Most or all of the housing in the white-only areas is built by the public school fathers, but owned by the white people who live there or by other white people. Much of the housing in the poorest sections where people of color are the majority is owned by white landlords who maximize their profits by illegally overcrowding and neglecting maintenance. Public school students lack the basics to participate in remote learning because of the economic violence perpetrated on them by the white bosses and owners. Before COVID, this deprivation was measured in the graduation rate and test scores. Now the only meaningful measure we have is access to remote learning devices. Every other district in Rockland reports 100% of students have a Chromebook or equivalent. In East Ramapo, it’s only 41%. One community, breathing the same air, and while economic and political power concentrates to some, the COVID virus flows freely to all. 

 

Remembering Coach Kevin Feeney

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Remembering Coach Kevin Feeney
2. Voting Information Event
3. How Do We Feel Right Now?

1) Remembering Coach Kevin Feeney

Coach Feeney was killed in a tragic accident on October 3. He was with the district for 24 years and will be missed by all of those whose lives he touched.

2) Voting Information Event

Please join JAMCCAR on October 9, 2020, at 7:00 p.m., at a special ZOOM meeting  “YOUR VOTE, YOUR VOICE, YOUR POWER” with guest speaker, Kristen Zebrowski Stavisky, Commissioner of the Rockland Board of Elections.

Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84809414212?pwd=MnBaamxJcTJmcUhIblJmZy9QaE56UT09
Meeting ID: 848 0941 4212
Passcode: 584886

3) How Do We Feel Right Now?

The Spring Valley HS Thespians are taking on feelings of anger and fear in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in a new play that will be recorded and broadcast in December.

“How Do We Feel Right Now? A Collection of Raw Thoughts in the Aftermath of Senseless Tragedy.”

 

November 2020 Voting Info

Power of Ten Update
Special Edition: November 2020 Voting Info

This year, people have many options to cast their vote. They can vote in person on election day. They can vote early at a voting center. They can vote by mail.

All information on how to vote is available on the board of elections webpage: https://rocklandgov.com/departments/board-of-elections/

As reported many times in The Power of Ten, elections can have an impact on the quality of education in our schools.

This election, we can also report that the quality of our schools has impacted the election. East Ramapo graduate Mondaire Jones went on to to Stanford University and Harvard Law School. He will be our next Congressman with your help. 

You will also recall that Elijah Reichlin-Melnick stood up for more oversight of the East Ramapo school board, and publicly opposed the political machine that asked him to pledge to vote against oversight. He will be our next State Senator with your help.

And of course, no elected official has done more for oversight of the East Ramapo public schools and no one has been attacked more ferociously by the private school lobby than Ellen Jaffee. With our help, she will continue to take our fight to Albany.

So there you have it. With so many ways to vote, even though we are in the middle of a pandemic, everyone can cast a ballot. When East Ramapo was one of the top districts in the state, it was because people like you cared and worked hard for it. Now everyone can see what has happened when people with other priorities get control. In order for us to change the trajectory of our schools, we will need competent, trustworthy people representing us in Albany (and Washington!) Mondaire, Elijah, and Ellen have committed to increased support for our schools, but most importantly, they are saying that support must include increased oversight. This is what public education advocates have been asking for, and this will be our work to accomplish together in 2021.

Special Edition: COVID Concerns

Power of Ten Update
Special Edition: COVID Concerns

As reported in The Forward, concerns have been raised about the lack of safety precautions in many non-public schools.

Public records obtained by Power of Ten revealed that many non-public schools in East Ramapo never actually closed, they simply rebranded themselves as childcare centers.

According to the Journal News, rates of infection are rising in areas where there are many non-public students, including East Ramapo, and officials have “acknowledged links between Rockland’s uptick in cases and COVID-19 clusters found in areas of Brooklyn and Queens that are home to large Orthodox Jewish communities.”

Especially concerning, it is being reported that some yeshivas are discouraging COVID-19 testing to try to avoid closures!!!

It’s important not to blame the whole Jewish community for these actions. The community is not monolithic. There are many, especially health care providers, who are trying to advocate for safe practices, and they deserve our support. The ultra-Orthodox community is often incorrectly labeled as “insular”. In fact, there is very extensive contact with East Ramapo public school families, many of whom work in homes, schools and stores in New Square and Monsey.

The lack of education provided in yeshivas seems to have left too many citizens unable to utilize vital health information. A review by The Power of Ten reveals that of non-public school students in 9-12 grade in East Ramapo, only one in four is enrolled in a program that can lead to a HS diploma.

Again, it’s important not to blame the whole Jewish community for the lack of education. As reported in The City, a Jewish parent who tries to improve the education for her child is facing a Mayor who uses her child’s education for “horse-trading”, a Dept. of Education that delays endlessly, and even a judge who ordered that her child remain in a yeshiva where no secular education was provided!!!

The only way forward, for us as a society, is to hold our institutions accountable. As the Board President of Yaffed writes in The Forward, “How can we expect them to be informed citizens who will vote, sit on juries, and be active participants in civic society, if the institutions tasked with preparing them for adulthood have abdicated this responsibility?.”

My Name is Pedro

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. My Name is Pedro
2. Development in Ramapo Forcing Out Minorities
3. Moshe’s Story

1) My Name is Pedro

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 six years after his death. Pedro was on a mission to make the world a better place. 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. 

The film is now available for streaming online, and there will be a panel discussion online on September 24th at 8:30 pm

Details available at: My Name is Pedro

2) Development in Ramapo Forcing Out Minorities

A new blockbuster investigative report by The Journal News details how actions of the school board majority have contributed to an increasing pattern of housing segregation. Many school board members have been developers and speculators. Have their actions on the board enhanced the profitability of their businesses?

Black families leave struggling East Ramapo school district in search of better education

3) Moshe’s Story

In an opinion piece for USA Today, Monsey resident Moshe Lobel describes his struggle to overcome the educational neglect he experienced in his childhood.

We must end educational neglect in ultra-Orthodox schools. Here’s why:

 

We Are Not Fooled

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Upcoming Events
2. Cola-Faroul Mentorship & Scholarship Program
3. We Are Not Fooled

1) Upcoming Events

Wednesday, September 16th from 12 PM – 1 PM

Conozca Sus Derechos Abogacia Y Educacion Especial Infantil

Know Your Rights! Legal Services of the Hudson Valley will be holding a Spanish virtual presentation on Child Advocacy and Special Education , “Conozca Sus Derechos Abogacia Y Educacion Especial Infantil”.

Click here to register. http://ow.ly/bdrv50Bg4oJ

Thursday, September 17, 2020 from 12 PM – 1 PM

UnEducated Part 2: Barriers to Self-Sufficiency

Please join Yaffed for another informative panel on the incredible challenges Yeshiva graduates face after being denied a basic education in many ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic Yeshivas.
We will hear from Yeshiva graduates and experts as they discuss the difficulties graduates face in seeking employment and achieving self-sufficiency.

Moderator: Ezra Cappell – Professor of Jewish Studies and English – Director of the Perlmutter Fellows Program at the College of Charleston.

Panelists:
Luzer Twersky – Yeshiva Graduate and Parent
Yomaly Suero – Economic Empowerment Program Manager, Footsteps
Naftuli Moster – Executive Director, Yaffed

Register on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Zha5RMfyRv21-nhAz5W81w

Link to view Part 1: https://youtu.be/Bh7nRm_paQo

2) Cola-Faroul Mentorship & Scholarship Program

The Cola-Faroul Mentorship & Scholarship Program has created a GoFundMe to help award as many scholarships as possible to the students that successfully complete the mentorship program.

With over a dozen applicants with great financial needs for funding college, 100% of the money donated will go toward helping them reach their academic goals. Scholarship money will be awarded in the summer before matriculating to the institution of their choice to support financial costs associated with college enrollment.

Full info: https://gf.me/u/yxas8q

3) We Are Not Fooled

New documents have been made public that appear to indicate attempts to mislead state and local authorities.

The first document (PX088) is a text conversation between Hersh Horowitz, the CEO of the Yeshiva Association of Rockland County and Harry Grossman, the President of the East Ramapo School Board. Rabbi Horowitz and Mr. Grossman appear to be conspiring to deceive the Superintendent regarding the lack of education in chasidish boys yeshivas.

Hersh Horowitz: …we are … advancing the secular studies in the chasidish boys schools so at least they learn the basics and they can communicate properly However Im not focused now on historyscience … We are focusing mostly on English … So when superintendent comes to visit she will be able to communicate with the students
Harry Grossman: … math is very pareve and easy to bring in as well as the next step … What do you think about getting to the point where all (yeshivas) can give Regent diploma
Hersh Horowitz: Long way to go
Harry Grossman: That would be … Good pr (Public Relations) Always subject to change
Harry Grossman: The ou (Orthodox Union) just got Albany to give $15 mil for STEM education…
Hersh Horowitz: Funding was very complicated and too many strings attached

School Board President Grossman has sworn an oath to execute the duties of a school board member, duties which include ensuring that students enrolled in non-public schools receive an education which is at least “substantially equivalent” to the education in public schools. This record of his interaction with Rabbi Horowitz reveals that he was aware that many students were not receiving even enough education to communicate in English with the East Ramapo Superintendent, and that he approved a plan to prevent the Superintendent from becoming fully aware of the situation by providing just enough English to prevent discovery that children were receiving essentially no instruction in History, Science etc:

The second document (CRCI_case47947_15ElyonRd-CongKhalTorath-redacted) is a response to health code violations by lawyers representing a yeshiva. These violations were the result of complaints that the school was open when schools were ordered closed due to the pandemic. The writer (Mr. Mahon) claims to speak on behalf of dozens of religious schools.

Mr. Mahon explains that although the same students were in the same buildings with the same staff, they were operating as a childcare service and not as a school. On pages 2 and 3 of his letter he claims that he informed the schools that the Governor’s Executive Order forbids the operation of schools, and that “required instructional programs” and “regular classroom learning” cannot take place. On page 7 of the same letter he states that “private religious instruction” is permitted.

This contradicts what yeshiva lobbyists have claimed, that religious education includes “critical thinking skills” that must be counted towards fulfilling ‘regular’ educational requirements. 

It appears that when lawyers need to get around the COVID school closures, religious instruction is represented as NOT “regular” learning, but when lobbyists want to get around substantial equivalency regulations, it IS represented as some kind of “regular” learning.

The truth is that all children deserve a quality education and they are entitled to it by law. Getting an education does not interfere with religious instruction – there are many schools which are very successful at both. COVID does not care whether a building or a bus is labelled “yeshiva” or “childcare”. Hours spent poring over religious texts is not “substantially equivalent” to STEM education. 

The lobbyists, the lawyers, the yeshiva association and the school board president can fool some of the people some of the time, but they cannot fool all the people all the time. The human desire for knowledge and equality has a long history of overcoming fools.

 

 

Blowin’ in the Wind

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Ward System Update
2. Comptroller: East Ramapo Fails to Control Expenses for Private School Books
3. Announcing the Cola-Faroul Mentorship and Scholarship Program

1) Ward System Update

The historic civil rights victory for East Ramapo voters means that there will be some public school board members who will be held accountable by the communities of color whose children attend those public schools. The exact locations of the wards and the timing of the elections are still being negotiated in court.

The school board was violating the law, denying people of color their right to have their vote counted. They spent millions of dollars from the children’s education funds in their misguided effort to prevent the parents of those children from having voting rights. It did not matter to them that these resources were being squandered, because their children were attending all-white private schools and their services are not affected.

Because the board was so reckless in their actions, the district may end up paying for both sides’ legal fees. The costs are high because the school board refused to negotiate a settlement. They are still rising because they have filed an appeal, even though the appeals court has said it is unlikely to succeed. Why should they care, it is not their kid’s education that is on the line! The only time they even pretend to care is when they try to use the threat of legal costs to bully people into letting them violate their civil rights.

East Ramapo is proof that a system is doomed to failure when public institutions are controlled by private interests. We have been calling for a change in the governance system of East Ramapo for a dozen years. Children who entered Kindergarten when we first wrote to the Commissioner of Education about a system that violated the democratic principle of “governance with the consent of the governed” are now getting ready to graduate (sadly, many will not!).

How many times do we have to write to Governor Cuomo, before he will understand? 

2) Comptroller: East Ramapo Fails to Control Expenses for Private School Books

As reported in the Journal News: Audit slams East Ramapo for ‘sloppy’ record keeping when buying private-school textbooks

This follows the Comptroller’s report that East Ramapo has been paying yeshivas to bus students without documentation that they attend school or even exist.

For those with long memories, this is déjà vu all over again. In 2011, the Journal News reported on millions of dollars of textbooks that were unaccounted for: Audit: East Ramapo bungled millions

Resources for the public school students are constantly being scoured for savings and cuts. But for private schools, they don’t even bother to keep track of millions of public dollars.

Over the years, there have been hundreds of complaints from parents and students, reports of mismanagement and corruption from administrators, board members, state agencies, major media, and appointed monitors. Every single complaint has come down to essentially the same issue, that when a public school board and budget that serves children of color is controlled by all-white private school interests, that’s an unacceptable conflict of interest and it’s hurting children. 

How many times do we have to write to Governor Cuomo, before he will understand?

When Bob Dylan wrote Blowin’ in the Wind, it was released with comments, including this: “But the only trouble is that no one picks up the answer when it comes down so not too many people get to see and know … and then it flies away. I still say that some of the biggest criminals are those that turn their heads away when they see wrong and know it’s wrong.”

3) Announcing the Cola-Faroul Mentorship and Scholarship Program

Ellen Sue Cola is a Ramapo High School graduate of 2016 and recent Brown University graduate. Her capstone paper won the Best Capstone Paper award from the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs. Ms. Cola has started the Cola-Faroul Mentorship and Scholarship Program to help other East Ramapo students achieve their dreams of higher education. This is her fourth article for The Power of Ten.

I was educated in the East Ramapo public schools from Kindergarten through 12th grade. This school district has been plagued by major budget cuts, political turmoil, and community unrest for many years. The cause of the conflict is that the white majority that uses private religious schools for their children has essentially exercised tyranny over the minority population which uses the public schools.

In November 2017, the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the East Ramapo Central School District for denying Black and Latino residents an equal opportunity to elect school board candidates of their choice. I wrote my Public Policy Capstone on this case. It is entitled A Seat at the Table: Voting Rights, a Ward System, and a Case Against the East Ramapo Central School District. It won the “Best Capstone Paper” award within the Public Policy department.

Not many students from East Ramapo matriculate to college, let alone Ivy League institutions. When I graduated in 2016, I was the only student in the district that was headed to the Ivy League. Most of my peers at Brown came from privileged backgrounds. These students have advantages of economic class, racial privilege, social capital (i.e. legacy students whose parent, grandparent, and/or sibling went to Brown), private-school educated (or educated at a better school than that in their home community), non-first generation (meaning their parents went to college), and so much more.

Applying to college can be a daunting process that many students feels overwhelmed and intimidated by. For many low-income and first-generation college students of color, their road to higher educational institutions can be difficult. As a low-income, first generation college student of color, I understand their struggle.

That is why I have started the Cola-Faroul Mentorship and Scholarship Program (named after my father’s last name and my mother’s maiden name). This scholarship and mentorship program is targeted toward rising senior students within East Ramapo and will provide them with financial support, SAT/ACT prep, college essay critiques, and college interview tips. This initiative triples as both a college readiness program, college scholarship sourcing program, and a scholarship, in and of itself.

The mission of the Cola-Faroul Mentorship and Scholarship Program is to demystify the college application process for promising East Ramapo students who may not have attended college without the support of the scholarship. The vision is to help increase the college matriculation rate within East Ramapo, one student at a time.

Students apply in the summer before their senior year of high school and after joining the program, they are immediately given 1-on-1 mentorship and guidance with the college application process. At the beginning of the program, I will virtually meet with each student in an effort to better understand that students’ college goals and aspirations. I will then guide each student through the entire college application process by providing them with help creating a list of safety, target, and reach colleges to apply to, SAT/ACT prep, college essay critiques and feedback, assistance with filling out the FAFSA, and resume reviews, and college interview prep. I will set guidelines and deadlines for the student to adhere to, in hopes that the student will feel more confident and reassured throughout the application process. Throughout the year, I will also source scholarships to these students and encourage them to apply for monies from local organizations that I have created partnerships with.

The Cola-Faroul Mentorship and Scholarship Program will also award a scholarship to one exceptional student that successfully completed the mentorship program. This scholarship will be awarded to one student in the summer before matriculating to the institution of their choice to support financial costs associated with college enrollment.

The application link is forms.gle/v1s1qdBYhnMF64Mj6 and applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Students are encouraged to apply sooner, rather than later, to secure their spot within the program.

COVID Takes Another East Ramapo Education Justice Activist

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. COVID Takes Another East Ramapo Education Justice Activist
2. East Ramapo School Board – When Will New York State Finally Step In?
3. Another Victory for Education Justice Supporters at the Polls!

1) COVID Takes Another East Ramapo Education Justice Activist

Washington Sanchez was always ready to work for justice in East Ramapo. He attended board meetings and protest rallies, and he organized people for bus trips to Albany to lobby our representatives. He made informational videos and shared them on the internet through “Canal Internacional” with his best friend and fellow East Ramapo activist Luis Nivelo. He inspired us with wonderful singing and guitar playing. When the time came to put his name on a document challenging the corrupt school board, he did not hesitate. 

This great man and great friend is now gone too soon due to the horrible pandemic. Our great sympathy goes out to his family, his father, Luis, his wife, Leticia, his children Anderson, Arely and Bruli, and his siblings Wilson, Armando, Martha, Margarita, Damián and Eliezer.

2) East Ramapo School Board – When Will New York State Finally Step In?

Historian and Professor of Education Alan Singer writes in his latest blog post that the decision by the East Ramapo school board to lease buildings for private summer camps is only the latest example of their unequal treatment of children in the district. He asks When Will New York State Finally Step In?

3) Another Victory for Education Justice Supporters at the Polls!

As previously reported in The Power of Ten, East Ramapo was the top Issue in the NY Senate 38th district election. Voters overwhelmingly supported Elijah Reichlin Melnick, who rejected an ultimatum from Hasidic leadership that he oppose a monitor with veto power for East Ramapo. 

There are other signs that the notorious “bloc vote”may be losing its political clout. The Jewish Daily Forward writes Williamsburg primary upset might indicate slipping power for Hasidic leaders. There, Community Organizer Emily Gallagher beat a long-time Assembly Member, of whom the Hasidic leaders wrote “if we, God forbid, fail to reelect him we shall suffer bitterly”. Some attributed the upset to greater turnout from progressives, others to dissent among Hasidic youth. Hasidic parents want their children to be happy and healthy just as much as any other parents. Despite severe censorship of books, newspapers, radio, television and the internet, they have eyes that see and hearts that feel. According to an Orthodox rabbi quoted in the article “the younger generation are fed up being directed to vote for those who keep the ancien regime functioning and alive.”

The work of Educational Justice requires confronting powerful people who think universal education threatens their power. It involves confronting political leadership that is often willing to turn a blind eye or trade away children’s human rights for political favors. East Ramapo has unfortunately become an example of what happens when these self-centered forces take power. It is up to those of us who believe in every child’s right to an education to stay informed, to spread the word, and to stay active socially and politically. We’ve had some big victories recently, and we can stop to celebrate for a minute before we move on the the next step in our work.

It’s Mondaire!

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Election Results
2. Ward System on the Way
3. Your Help Needed

1) Election Results

Mondaire Jones, our own East Ramapo alumnus, has won the Democratic primary election and will likely be our next representative in the U.S. Congress!!! This is why we fight for every child in East Ramapo to have a great education, so they can go on and do great things! 

2) Ward System on the Way

The Appeals Court has rejected the school board’s request to stop the ward system from being implemented until the appeal is decided. This means there will be a school board election using the ward system this year. Exactly when is not known yet. In rejecting the board’s request for a stay, the Appeals Court said that the board had failed to show “likelihood of success on the merits” of the case.

3) Your Help Needed

The NY State Education Department wants to update regulations that ensure students in non-public schools get an education which is at least equivalent to public school. This is especially relevant to East Ramapo where the majority of children attend non-public schools, many of which provide very little education. Graduates of these schools have made complaints which have been ignored by the district. The updated regulations would clarify the responsibilities of the state and the district.

You can help to support the updated regulations by filling out this form

 

Yes, It’s Racism!

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Yes, It’s Racism!
2. Budget Fails
3. Vote TODAY!

1) Yes, It’s Racism!

In his closing arguments against the ward system for East Ramapo, the school board’s lawyer claimed that the Orthodox school board members and their supporters are colorblind: “Do you really think that the District’s Orthodox voters would vote differently if the majority of public school students were white?” 

Like all ‘colorblind’ arguments, the school board’s plea is in reality only blind to the nature of race discrimination. In fact, indifference to the plight of people of color is one of the major characteristics of organizational racism.

Another hallmark of racist mindset would be to claim that you know what people of color really need better than they do. Again and again, the board makes the assertion that “race is not what is driving the elections, it’s something else”. They assert that Black and Latino members of the community and the organizations representing their interests are untrustworthy. They systematically exclude the board members of color from conversations about how the board should deal with a complaint from the NAACP. The white board majority did not seek guidance from the black board members even after a judge had ruled that the facts supported the NAACP. 

Today, all around the country, people are reexamining unspoken assumptions and long established policies that sanction white privilege and facilitate oppression of black and brown people. The white men who make up the majority of the East Ramapo school board would have you believe that they (and their supporters) are all immune from racism, and they make this claim, astonishingly and boldly, in the same breath that they condemn people of color as untrustworthy and unqualified to know and express their own interests!!!

In perhaps the most perverse twist of all, the white board members are now using their power to take money away from an educational system that serves the children of color in another ill-fated attempt to perpetuate their racist system. They are literally robbing education from children of color to pay for a lawsuit to prove they are not racist. Could they possibly make it any clearer? Yes, It’s racism!

2) Budget Fails

East Ramapo has had more failed budgets than any other district in New York State. This is because those who designed the system of funding and governing public schools never anticipated a situation where the private schools were the majority. When the same people who use the schools are the ones who pay the taxes and make decisions about raising and spending money, the system functions as intended. When the majority uses private schools, the checks and balances inherent in the system are removed.

The private school system usually tries to use a failed budget as a way to blackmail the district into shifting more funds from public programs to private services. Like any other kind of blackmail, paying once only guarantees a higher price next time. 

Public school advocates have been sounding the alarm to the state for decades. What is really needed are changes to the governance and funding systems. We are waiting on Albany to correct these. The fate of East Ramapo is in the hands of Governor Cuomo, Speaker Heastie, and Senator Stewart Cousins.

Detailed information on this year’s failed budget is available from The Journal News.

3) Vote TODAY!

Today, June 23, is the Democratic Primary Election. If you have not already voted by absentee or early voting, this is your last chance! Absentee ballots must be postmarked today, or you may vote in person, but be aware that they have changed some polling places.

East Ramapo is a hot topic once again. As previously reported in The Power of Ten, Mondaire Jones is an East Ramapo graduate making a historic run for congress, and oversight of East Ramapo is a major topic in the NY Senate race, with explosive allegations by Elijah Reichlin-Melnick that opposition to a monitor with veto power has become THE DECIDING FACTOR for the “leadership of the Hasidic community”.

 

East Ramapo is Top Issue in NY Senate Race

Power of Ten Update
Special Edition: East Ramapo is Top Issue in NY Senate Race

East Ramapo has often been a top issue in local and state elections. But in this year’s Democratic Primary for NY State Senator, one brave candidate has drawn back the curtain on how opposition to a monitor with veto power has become THE DECIDING FACTOR for the “leadership of the Hasidic community”!!!

The candidate who stood up for more oversight, better education and JUSTICE for East Ramapo was Elijah Reichlin-Melnick.

Here is his Facebook post:

 

School Board Loses in Court AGAIN!

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. School Board Loses in Court AGAIN!
2. Updated Voting Info
3. COVID Testing Site in Spring Valley

1) School Board Loses in Court AGAIN!

In perhaps the most unsurprising legal decision in history, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has denied the school board’s request for a ‘stay’ of the decision of U.S. District Court Judge Cathy Seibel’s ruling ordering a ward system for school board elections. The Court of Appeals found that the “district has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of the appeal”.

This is just the latest in a long series of legal misadventures that our rogue school board has embarked on since they abruptly switched from their competent and long-serving local law firm of Greenberg Wanderman & Fromson. The Nanuet based firm was charging a very reasonable $120/hr, and had an impeccable record for the district. Giving no reason, other than his own uninhibited power to do whatever he pleased, school board member Aron Wieder and his bloc vote on the board removed this competent and respectable law firm and replaced them with the very expensive and controversial firm of Miranda and D’Agostino. During their tenure in East Ramapo, they would add “infamous” to that CV, as they repeatedly and aggressively accosted school children and parents, without a single word of reprimand from the board until one lawyer was caught on camera and it went VIRAL.(warning: video of school board lawyer contains language some may deem unsuitable for children).

At that time, the legal shenanigans were focused on abusing the interpretation of the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act) in order to funnel more public dollars into the private religious schools favored by the board members. The board wanted a lawyer who would settle the cases that Fromson had been winning. Another counsel which had been approached by the board to do this work responded that “…it is our opinion that a board of education’s directive to place a child in a setting contrary to that proposed by a district’s CSE (Committee on Special Education) … may rise to the level of an inappropriate gift of public monies.”

The board went ahead with their plan anyway, and received several strong warnings from the NY State Education Dept. (NYSED). The board then sued NYSED (and lost) and appealed (and lost). All of the costs of these legal actions came at the expense of programs and services for the children in public schools. Do these actions give the appearance that the members of the public school board are putting the interests of private religious schools first? You don’t have to take my word for it, according to their own lawyer they “have never denied” that they “emphasize” services for the private schools.

Despite the overwhelming evidence and record that the massive increase in legal costs were the direct result of the school board’s own reckless disregard for the public funds they are entrusted with, they continue to blame everything on the public school parents who have tried to hold them accountable. The truth is they have even sued their own insurance company. In that case, the judge found that the district had been overcharged millions of dollars by their high priced lawyers. 

In the most recent case, once again, serious questions were raised, even by the judge, about whether the school board was being reckless with the children’s education funds in pursuit of the fleeting phantoms of their own imaginary righteousness. In short, they unreasonably denied the repeated requests by civil liberties and civil rights groups to address the longstanding and exhaustively documented inequities in their election process. At every step, they were offered a less expensive way to solve the problem. At every step, and quite ironically, they excluded board members of color in forming their answer that ‘no, we don’t exclude people of color’. Given that the next steps will again involve raiding the funds for programs for children in public school, with no impact on the services for the private schools that most board members “emphasize”, and given that the appeals court itself has questioned the likelihood of success, the question must be asked: “Has the East Ramapo school board now stepped over a line, where they have so far abandoned their duty to the public good that they should be removed from office?”

2) Updated Voting Info

Many people have never gotten a ballot. If you have not received one, please contact the district clerk. If you have not yet mailed your ballot, the district is now putting out boxes for ballots. Since ballots received by mail after 5 PM on June 9 will not be counted, it may be wise to use the box rather than take a chance on sending by mail.

Please visit the district clerk’s web page for details (I am purposely NOT giving details here because they change faster than I can keep up).

3) COVID Testing Site in Spring Valley

The Martin Luther King Center is hosting a free COVID testing program. From June 1 through June 12, Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM at the center, 110 Bethune Blvd in Spring Valley. Call 833-422-7369 to make an appointment.

 

Ballot Bewilderment

Power of Ten Update
Special Edition: Ballot Bewilderment

Ballots have begun to arrive in people’s mailboxes. They include the candidates for school board, even though the court has enjoined (prohibited) the district from holding another at-large (discriminatory) election. This is because, according to the district clerk, the ballots were already printed. The clerk says you should “not vote for the school board candidates”. However, she does not say that it will affect anything else if you do. 

The school budget and library trustee vote are STILL HAPPENING. 

If you got your ballot, you should fill it out and mail it back immediately. Please mark YES for the budget and for Library Trustee Alexandre.

Be aware that ballots can only be returned by mail, and that ballots received back at the district after the June 9 deadline will not be counted.

If you have not received a ballot, you may want to contact the district for further instructions. The contact information is on the district website.

 

 

 

Judge Rules in NAACP v. East Ramapo

Power of Ten Update
Special Edition: NAACP Prevails!

For years, voters in the East Ramapo have been complaining that their voices aren’t represented on the school board. It had gotten so bad that many people gave up voting entirely. They felt that their vote didn’t matter, and it was hard to argue that they were wrong.

When the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) took a look at the situation they immediately recognized the problem was voter dilution. This is when the votes of a minority group are mixed in with the majority’s votes so that the minority’s choice can never win. It is commonly found in areas where there is racial segregation. It is a tool to disenfranchise minority voters. It is also illegal.

The NYCLU wrote to the East Ramapo school board informing them of their observations and advising them how they can change their policies to conform with the law. The school board rejected their communication, and the ignored the plight of the minority voters. Anyone familiar with the East Ramapo school board will not be surprised by this action.

Fortunately, the Spring Valley Branch of the NAACP and several concerned citizens engaged the NYCLU to hold the school board accountable for the way it was discriminating against minority voters. A lawsuit was filed in the Federal courthouse in White Plains. The NYCLU also obtained pro Bono assistance from the law firm of Latham and Watkins, one of the largest firms in the world.

The school board, used to getting its way by raiding millions of dollars of education funds to pay for high priced lawyers, was finally fighting someone their own size. Thanks to the courage of concerned citizens, and the Spring Valley Branch of the NAACP, and the endless dogged persistence of the NYCLU lawyers, and the amazing generosity of Latham and Watkins and their stellar pro Bono legal team, JUSTICE has come today for voters in East Ramapo!

Judge Seibel’s ruling:

DECISION AND ORDER: 87. Balancing all of the relevant factors, I find that Plaintiffs have convincingly proven their case of vote dilution … The at-large system of electing the Board of Education of the East Ramapo Central School District affords black and Latino residents “less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice … in that it “thwarts a distinctive minority vote by submerging it in larger white voting population,” … the challenged practice “has operated to invidiously exclude blacks [and Latinos] from effective participation in political life in violation of Section 2 … Plaintiffs have proven that the at-large method of electing Board members in the District violates Section 2 of the VRA and that they are thus entitled to full relief. This Court enjoins the District from holding any further elections under its at-large system, including the elections currently scheduled for June 9, 2020. … The District shall propose a remedial plan that fully complies with the VRA within thirty days of the date of this Order. … Such a remedial plan shall divide the District into nine voting wards – one for each Board seat – and require that only those residents living in a voting ward may vote for that ward’s seat.

It is very important that we share this news with our neighbors and our children, especially important that children should know that they have a right to an educational experience that prepares them for college and for the job market; an experience that is rewarding and fulfilling; an experience where they are respected and where they are expected to excel; and that they have the right to live and learn in an environment free of racism, segregation or unequal treatment. They should know there are adults working to preserve these rights, and that all the rights and privileges we enjoy exist only because someone was willing to stand up for them.

There will certainly be more news on this topic in the coming days and weeks. Please share this news and invite your contacts to sign up to receive the Power of Ten Newsletter (form is on the website) so they can get the news directly.

 

Essential Candidate and Budget Voting Information

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Virtual Town Hall
2. Budget Hearing
3. Mail Your Ballot ASAP

1) Virtual Town Hall

May 26th at 6:15 PM.

Please Join the Civic Engagement Committee of the Spring Valley NAACP as they introduce the candidates for school board and library trustee. Candidates will share information with you as to why they feel they qualify to represent the community and will fight for justice and equality for the youth in the East Ramapo School District.

Use this link to connect via ZOOM

HTTPS://US02WEB.ZOOM.US/J/83951792214?PWD=V1k5VVFMRIYVCKPARERCEWZAEKXZZZ09

Meeting ID:  839 5179 2214

Password:  179263

DIAL IN:  1-929-205-6099

2) Budget Hearing

Please Note: Immediately following the NAACP event the district will have a virtual budget hearing. Details on the district website https://www.ercsd.org/

3) Mail Your Ballot ASAP

School Board and Budget Elections are by Mail-in ballot only this year!!! The district will be sending out the ballots this week. Due to the pandemic, it is possible that mail delivery will be slow.

Ballots received by the district after June 9 will not be counted! Therefore, it is very important to WATCH your mailbox and return your ballot as soon as possible.

Here is a guide to fill out your ballot to support our children’s education and vote for our public education advocates:

 

Election Update

Power of Ten Update
Special Edition: Election Update
1. Mail-in Ballots Only!
2. Meet Our Candidates
3. Library Vote

1) Mail-in Ballots Only!

The Governor has cancelled all in-person voting for school board elections. School districts have been ordered to conduct the election by mail-in ballot only. There will be a very short window of time from when you receive your ballot until you must mail it to be received on time. The ballots must be received by June 9, but there is a potential for slow mail delivery due to the pandemic.

For this reason, PLEASE WATCH YOUR MAIL, PLEASE FILL OUT AND RETURN THE BALLOT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!

2) Meet Our Candidates

Power of Ten is pleased to announce that Carole Anderson has decided to run for election to the seat she was appointed to recently.

For ALL the information on the candidates this year, please visit www.eastramapotogether.wordpress.com. While you are there, please consider donating to the campaign.

3) Library Vote

The Finklestein Library would normally be holding its vote in June; it has been combined with the school vote this year.

Denet Alexandre, the Library Board President, is up for re-election. He has been a constant supporter of quality education in East Ramapo, and deserves our support, please when you vote for school board, also mark your ballot for Denet Alexandre for Library Trustee.

 

East Ramapo Activist Succumbs to COVID-19

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. East Ramapo Activist Succumbs to COVID-19
2. Carole Anderson Appointed to School Board
3. Student Essay: A Proud Product of the East Ramapo Central School District

1) East Ramapo Activist Succumbs to COVID-19

Jose Vitelio Gregorio passed away on April 30 due to COVID-19. He was a loving, hardworking father and provider for his three children, Natalia (12), Kevin (9), and Michele (23). Jose was immensely proud of his family and his community. He was also a strong advocate for quality public education for the children of East Ramapo. Jose was one of the courageous plaintiffs who stood shoulder to shoulder with the NAACP to fight for the rights of people of color in the Voting Rights Act lawsuit against the school district. His loss is felt deeply and could not come at a worse time for his family. 

Jose was the keynote speaker at the Noche Latina celebration at Ramapo High School on April 9, 2011. You can view his speech here: https://youtu.be/KrfHtIhjtWU

Jose, who worked in construction, was the primary earner for the household. His wife, Diomara, and his daughter, Michele, have lost their jobs during the pandemic. With resources depleted during Jose’s nearly month-long illness and no current sources of income, Jose’s family is dire need of financial support to provide for essentials until they can get back on their feet.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help his family. Your donation will go directly to Jose’s wife to assist them in this time of hardship.

2) Carole Anderson Appointed to School Board

Carole Anderson, public education activist and longtime supporter and friend of The Power of Ten, has been appointed an interim member of the school board.

Here is her biographical statement from when she ran for school board in 2011: As a former educator with 28 years in New York City schools and two Master’s degrees in Education and Administration, Carole is aware of the problems that our schools are facing. As a mother, she knows that the quality of EDUCATION in our public schools affects both our children and our community. She will work to restore the dedication to services, student performance, and excellence that once made East Ramapo one of the top districts in the state. The renewed reputation for excellence and success will raise property values and rally community spirit for all residents.

Carole will hold this seat until the next election, which has been indefinitely postponed due to the pandemic. Her time on the board may be short, but she will surely have a positive impact while she is there! Carole knows what an effective board looks like, she was active when our board was the envy of NY State, when Georgine Hyde, Dr. Danielle Bright, Dr. Susan Gordon, and many other luminaries led our district to the top position in the state. We now have three strong women of color on our board, and we hope to add to that in the next election with candidates Sherry McGill, Ana Maeda Gonzalez, and Kerry Victor, as well as Hiram Rivera.

3) Student Essay: A Proud Product of the East Ramapo Central School District

Ellen Sue Cola graduated from Ramapo High School in June 2016, and matriculated to Brown University, an Ivy League school located in Providence, RI. She triple-majored in Economics, Public Policy, and Africana Studies, a feat that only 2% of Brown undergraduates accomplish. This is her second essay for The Power of Ten, the first can be found here.

After graduating from Ramapo, I felt prepared to succeed in college due to the rigorous coursework that my educators provided me. During my first semester at Brown, I took an Introduction to Africana Studies course where students were responsible for completing the assigned readings and writing a weekly 2-page response paper. I remember my peers felt overwhelmed by this weekly task. I did not share that same sentiment because when I was in my 11th grade AP U.S. History course, I, too, had to write weekly response papers. Furthermore, the grading rubric that my high school history teacher used was more rigorous than that of my Brown University professor. All in all, going into college, I was academically confident in my writing because I knew East Ramapo gifted me with the tools necessary to authentically and persuasively communicate my thoughts on paper. As a matter of fact, in my first year at Brown, I conducted graduate level research and was one of the first students to present that research at the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice.

My educational experience in East Ramapo was also shaped by the amazing faculty and staff. They truly put their students first and utilized the limited resources that they had to provide their students with the best possible educational experience. Educators would often stay after school to help students, going the extra mile to assist them however they saw fit. For example, my psychology teacher at Ramapo stayed after school with me on multiple occasions to help me write my college essay. This task had nothing to do with the Psychology material or homework assignments for class. Rather, he really wanted to help make my dream of going to college come true—and he did. Those are the types of educators that are present in the district—those that want to see their students succeed, believe in their students’ abilities, and will work with students to make their dreams become realities.

Obtaining an ERCSD education made me competitive in the college application process; it showed my resilience through times of challenge and difficulty. In a sense, the institutional difficulties that I experienced in East Ramapo forced me to be resourceful and ingenious. I came to realize that in life, you may not always have access to what you need, and it is vital to make the best out of the situation presented before you.

East Ramapo Central School District produces high achievers, risk takers, hard workers, and the like. Granted, there are some institutional and academic issues that need to be addressed and by no means am I claiming that they do not exist. However, there are powerful leaders and world changers that are bred within this district and that is something to be proud of and remember. Being a product of East Ramapo Central School District was an invaluable experience that I would not change for the world. I am a proud Ramapo Gryphon.

 

Special Edition: The Story of The Sale of Hillcrest Elementary

Power of Ten Update
Special Edition: The Story of The Sale of Hillcrest Elementary

The Story of The Sale of Hillcrest Elementary was reported in bits and pieces as it unfolded. It’s a story that deserves to be told as a whole, in one concise article.

This story begins in 2008 when the superintendent of the East Ramapo school district announced he would be looking into the possibility of closing a school and using the savings to fund more full day kindergarten classes. They superintendent formed a study committee which met secretly.

Rumors began to circulate among staff and parents about which school would be closed. There were rallies held to save Hempstead elementary school and many parents came to board meetings to speak against the closure of their child’s school.

In 2009 the superintendent recommended, and the board voted to close Colton elementary school, a school which had been specially fitted to serve students with disabilities. The school was rented out to a private religious school that served children with disabilities.

In 2010 the school board voted to close Hillcrest elementary school as well. This was done over the objections of the superintendent and the president of the school board. Over 1000 people turned out to the board meeting to oppose, more than would fit in the gymnasium. Those voting to close the school were Wieder, Hopstein, Solomon, and Kohn. 

The board then proceeded to sell the school through a bidding process, with a high bid of $3.1 million coming from Yeshiva Avir Yakov of New Square.
An appeal was filed with the New York State Education Department which forced the school board to release the appraisals it had used to justify the sale price. The first appraisal, for $5.9 million was done in May of 2010. The bids came in in July with a high bid of $3.1 million, and within two weeks the board obtained a second appraisal for – wait for It – $3.2 million.

The NY State Commissioner of Education annulled the sale based on the short turnaround between getting a second appraisal and accepting the bid. There was literally no time for the board to analyze why the two appraisals were so different. The district went on to rent the school to Yeshiva Avir Yakov, again for less than its value, another decision which was overturned later by the State Education Department.

Meanwhile, a parent who was also a real estate appraiser got a copy of that extremely low second appraisal. He took the time to double-check the work and found what he considered to be fraud. The appraisal was done using a process of “comparable sales”, in other words looking for similar properties that have been sold and comparing the sale prices. What this parent found, in the archives in the basement of town hall, was that what the appraiser had presented as a “comparable sale” of a school in Monsey was in fact the sale of vacant property, a parking lot!

At this point, we collected all the relevant documents and sent them off to the Public Integrity Unit of the New York State Atty. General’s office. That was November of 2011. In July of 2013 the appraiser who filed the false instrument was arrested. The Public Integrity Unit alleged a scheme in which “an individual” had introduced the appraiser, a Mr. Avi Vardi, to representatives of Yeshiva Avir Yakov and they paid him for a rush appraisal. Then a “board member” sent Mr. Vardi’s contact information to the board attorney who hired him on behalf of the school district to produce this appraisal. According to the Public Integrity Unit, the appraisal was “manipulated” to provide a figure in line with the bid which had already been made by the yeshiva.

The Public Integrity Unit’s investigation was hampered by a lawsuit filed by the East Ramapo school board to prevent the investigation from accessing internal school board documents. Because the school board member had used a school district attorney to obtain the fraudulent appraisal, the district argued it should be covered by attorney client privilege. Let that sink in for a minute. Law enforcement was trying to uncover whether a school board member had colluded to steal school property – an elementary school (!!!) – and the school board, rather than cooperate and assist law enforcement, voted to obstruct the investigation and to protect the thief!

The district also sued the State Education Department for its decision to annul the lease of Hillcrest to the yeshiva. While this lawsuit was going on, the district entered into a series of arrangements with a shell corporation formed in Delaware which led to the sale of the school again to the yeshiva, this time for $4.8 million.

The only person ever punished for the fraud associated with the sale of the school was the appraiser. He was fined $1000, had to pay back what he charged for the appraisal, and gave up his license for three years. There was no explanation from the Atty. General’s office as to why they did not charge the other persons involved in the alleged “scheme”. It is worth noting that Atty. General Schneiderman had received significant support from the same bloc vote that installed the school board, as reported by FBI undercover informant Moses Stern, who testified that he was involved in Schneiderman’s campaign, running a shadow campaign, helping him gain support in the Orthodox community.

Over the next several years, enrollment in the East Ramapo public schools increased dramatically. Class size at the elementary level has increased by 25% and there is simply too little classroom space to accommodate the needs of public-school students. Replacing Hillcrest elementary school could easily cost the district $12 million.

From East Ramapo to U.S. Congress

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. From East Ramapo to U.S. Congress
2. School Board and Budget Vote Delayed

1) From East Ramapo to U.S. Congress

As an East Ramapo student, Mondaire Jones dreamed big. Mondaire’s grandfather was a janitor at Pomona Middle School. His grandmother served lunch in East Ramapo public schools. They taught Mondaire the value of a good education. He took advantage of all East Ramapo had to offer and went on to get his Law Degree from Harvard. Like so many other young people who participated in the struggle for justice in East Ramapo, Mondaire has carried on into his adult life the knowledge that we cannot take any of the rights that were won by our forebears for granted. You can learn all about the fantastic work he has done on his website: https://mondaireforcongress.com

Now Mondaire Jones is running for U.S. Congress. I strongly encourage everyone to learn about his campaign, and to realize that everything he stands for is a direct result of the struggle for justice we have all been part of here in our district. Realize that this is only part of a wider struggle that has been going on all over the country – it is the struggle for a government that serves the people with integrity and transparency and does not pander to powerful special interests.

The Democratic Primary election is scheduled for June 23. Because of the pandemic emergency, campaigning may be even more expensive than usual. Please consider donating to Mondaire’s campaign at https://mondaireforcongress.com

2) School Board and Budget Vote Delayed

Due to the ongoing Pandemic, the May 19 School Board and Budget Vote has been delayed until “at least” June 1. Our candidates still need to get petition signatures. Thanks to all who have printed and sent their sheets by USPS. If you have not yet done so, please follow the directions, HERE.

 

 

Closing Arguments Tuesday; How to Listen Live!

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Closing Arguments Tuesday
2. Outrageous Actions by School Board President Could Prove Expensive for District
3. Local Covid-19 Relief Efforts

1) Closing Arguments Tuesday

Closing arguments of the NAACP-East Ramapo Voting Rights Act case will take place Tuesday, March 24th at 2:00 PM.

The proceedings will take place by Zoom Meeting Information: https://zoom.us/j/4629276583 

By phone: 877-853-5247 Meeting ID: 462 927 6583

2) Outrageous Actions by School Board President Could Prove Expensive for District

According to The Journal News, East Ramapo schools board rejected settlement offer that could saved millions, NYCLU says

What appears to have happened, from testimony and documents revealed in the trial, is that the judge ordered the two parties to attempt to reach a settlement before trial, and that school board President Grossman excluded the only two minority members of the board from meaningful participation in the settlement talks.

This is not the first time that a school board president and the special counsel have been accused of excluding other board members from important decisions. In 2013, two board members resigned largely over this practice, including board member Young-Mercer, who was the only person on color on the board at the time. In her letter explaining her reasons for resigning, she wrote: “In the past few weeks I have become aware important decisions that were made by the Superintendent without my knowledge. I feel that these decisions jeopardized the educational progression of East Ramapo students as well and the students of neighboring Rockland County School districts.” Board member Price wrote: “As far as I can determine, the letter from David Butler to the James DeLorenzo dated January 14, 2013 was never authorized by the Board of Education.” and “I feel that I have been wrongfully denied access to District information that I reasonably require to perform my duties.”

Read the letters of resignation here

3) Local Covid-19 Relief Efforts

Many of our neighbors are having a hard time keeping food on the table due to the closures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MLK Center operates one of the largest food pantries in the county; they are seeing increased need now. Learn how you can help the MLK Center here

Proyecto Faro is an organization with expertise engaging new immigrants, many of whom are especially vulnerable to economic downturns.  Find out how to help Proyecto Faro here

Urgent Notice!

Power of Ten Urgent Notice:

Due to concerns about spreading the COVID-19 virus, gathering petition signatures for candidates is more difficult this year.

Please download the petitions, print and sign (all four pages please), and return via USPS to: East Ramapo Campaign, 10 Garden Pl, Spring Valley NY 10977.

Due to social isolation guidelines, the candidates will be unable to hold a traditional fundraiser.

Please donate online today!

Thank you!

Update: Event Cancelled

Power of Ten Update 

 
NOTICE- The Event announced for Friday March 13 in the last issue IS CANCELLED.
Thanks to all for understanding.
Stay up to date on how to keep safe by visiting the Rockland County Website
 
The challenges of facing a public health crisis reinforce the importance of public education. When every person in our community has a good education, is able to understand healthy behavior and consequences, has the means to support themselves and prepare for emergencies, and has health care, we are all safer. When high quality education is only for some children, we all suffer. You may remember your chemistry teacher saying “You are only as safe as the least safe person in the laboratory.”
 
Many East Ramapo families may be experiencing hardships due to the measures we must all take for public health. Now is the time for us each to do what we can to stay calm and stay safe, and to help our neighbors do the same.
 
Due to concerns about spreading the COVID-19 virus, gathering petition signatures for candidates may be more difficult this year. If you prefer, you can download the petitions here, print at home, sign (all four pages please), and return via USPS to: East Ramapo Campaign, 10 Garden Pl, Spring Valley NY 10977

Our 2020 Candidates

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Announcing Our 2020 Candidates

2. Women’s History Month Event UPDATE: THIS EVENT IS CANCELLED

3. MLK Center Gala
1) Announcing Our 2020 Candidates

Thanks to all who attended the 2020 forum on February 29! Six very qualified people expressed interest in volunteering to serve on the 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. We received a lot of good questions and feedback from the audience and the audience feedback was used to put together this year’s team. We originally expected only three seats would be available, but due to the resignation of a board member, there will be four seats up for election this year.

Our candidates this year are Sherry McGill, Ana Maeda-Gonzalez, Kerry Victor and Hiram Rivera.

Please visit www.eastramapotogether.wordpress.com to learn all about them, and please sign up to Volunteer and Donate to the campaign if you can!

2) Women’s History Month Event THIS FRIDAY CANCELLED

Jamaican Civic & Cultural Association of Rockland, Inc. (JAMCCAR) Celebrates Women’s History Month with a group of dynamic women!

Panelists: Michelle Brown, Emmy Award Nominated Reporter; Lorna Hawthorne, Chairperson of the Board of Lowell F. Hawthorne Foundation; Andrea Isaacs, MD FCCP; Ellen Jaffee, NYS Assembly Member; Dr. Elizabeth A Johnson, DPT; Sophia D. Thomas, Chief Financial Officer Rockland Employees Federal Credit Union

NOTICE: THIS EVENT IS CANCELLED: Friday, March 13 at 7:30 PM at the Louis Kurtz Center, 9 North Main Street, Spring Valley

3) MLK Center Gala

The MLK Center Awards Benefit Gala will take place Sunday, April 19 at The Paramount Country Club

All the details: https://mailchi.mp/00f7fd32336d/annualawardsgala

Candidate Forum Saturday

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Candidate Search Deadline
2. Candidate Forum Feb 29
3. Judge Accuses Board President of Lying on the Stand

1) Candidate Search Deadline

You probably know someone who would make a great school board member. Someone who cares about education, and has a couple of free evenings each month. Why not give it a try?

The deadline to submit for this year is coming up! Please fill out this questionnaire by February 28.

2) Candidate Forum Feb 29

Every year, at our forum, the public has an opportunity to hear from (and rate) those interested in becoming the newest members of the East Ramapo school board.

Please make every effort to attend this important event!

The details:

Saturday Feb 29 from 12-2 PM at the Hillcrest Firehouse, 374 N Main St, Spring Valley

Please indicate you can attend the events on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/517690282202113/

3) Judge Accuses Board President of Lying on the Stand

The NAACP Voting Rights Lawsuit continues this week.

The trial has begun to have all the excitement of a TV courtroom drama.

According to The Forward, Judge Seibel has accused School Board President Grossman of Lying on the Stand!

If you want to catch some of the action, you can attend the trial yourself.

The address is:
US District Courthouse
Hon. Charles L. Brieant Jr.
Federal Building and Courthouse
300 Quarropas St, White Plains, NY 10601

Courtroom info: https://nysd.uscourts.gov/courthouses/charles-l-brieant-jr-united-states-courthouse-white-plains

Yeshiva Vendors Guilty of Fraud

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Yeshiva Vendors Guilty of Fraud
2. Candidate Search Deadline
3. Candidate Forum Feb 29

1) Yeshiva Vendors Guilty of Fraud

According to the Journal News, this week 7 people pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining $14 million through a federally subsidized program to provide electronic equipment to East Ramapo yeshivas.

The E-Rate program is a federal program to provide computer and internet services to schools and libraries in poor communities, so that children will not be left out of the Information Revolution simply because of their family’s financial status. It was established by congress so that America will not “have a two-class society in this country, those who know and those who do not.”

For this reason, The New York Jewish Week magazine asked in 2013 “How does a community that rails against the Web pull in $30 million in one year for its schools from the E-rate program?”

Another investigative article by The Forward found there was also a question of funds supposed to go to libraries. According to the Forward “Federal law … holds NYSED responsible for determining a library’s E-Rate eligibility” but NYSED told the Forward that E-Rate eligibility “is handled at the local and regional level”. However, one local agency said it’s “out of our jurisdiction to make those kinds of judgments,” This circular finger-pointing sounds very familiar to those following the issue of educational equivalency for yeshivas. 

The NYS Comptroller has released a report that finds that East Ramapo has been paying yeshivas to bus students without documentation that they attend school or even exist.

This is concerning because direct payments to yeshivas aren’t only for busing  East Ramapo’s direct payments to religious organizations may have been as high as $33 million last year.

2) Candidate Search Deadline

You probably know someone who would make a great school board member. Someone who cares about education, and has a couple of free evenings each month. Why not give it a try?

The deadline to submit for this year is coming up! Please fill out this questionnaire by February 28.

3) Candidate Forum Feb 29

Every year, at our forum, the public has an opportunity to hear from (and rate) those interested in becoming the newest members of the East Ramapo school board.

The details:

Saturday Feb 29 from 12-2 PM at the Hillcrest Firehouse, 374 N Main St, Spring Valley

Please indicate you can attend the events on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/517690282202113/

 

NAACP v. ERCSD Trial Begins!

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. NAACP v. ERCSD Trial Begins!
2. School Board Member Guilty of Larceny
3. February 23 Forum Cancelled

1) NAACP v. ERCSD Trial Begins!

The Journal News: Judge sets up trial about East Ramapo voting that could alter how school board is elected

The trial is open to the public. 

Tuesday, February 11 through Friday, February 21 
from 9:30 am – about 2:30 pm 

The address is:
US District Courthouse
Hon. Charles L. Brieant Jr.
Federal Building and Courthouse  
300 Quarropas St, White Plains, NY 10601

The judge is Cathy Seibel.  Courtroom info: https://nysd.uscourts.gov/courthouses/charles-l-brieant-jr-united-states-courthouse-white-plains

2) School Board Member Guilty of Larceny

The Journal News: East Ramapo trustee Bernard Charles pleads guilty in fake town rental case, will quit school board

3) February 23 Forum Cancelled

Due to an unforeseen conflict, the forum that had been scheduled for Sunday, Feb 23 must be cancelled.

The Forum for Saturday, February 29 is still on.

The details:

Saturday Feb 29 from 12-2 PM at the Hillcrest Firehouse, 374 N Main St, Spring Valley

Please indicate you can attend the events on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/517690282202113/

If you or someone you know is interested in being a candidate, please fill out this questionnaire:

www.poweroften.us/2020questionnaire

Assessment is not a four-letter word

Power of Ten Update
Assessment is not a four-letter word:

Little children need lots of positive feedback. “You’re a good helper” goes a long way to improve socialization and build self-esteem, even when the “help” is more figurative than functional. Pre-adolescents tire quickly of “phony” praise. They are big enough to care that they are truly useful and feel proud when they’ve mastered a skill. Teenagers and young adults go a step further, they start assessing their assessors. They notice that letter and number grades don’t accurately reflect the full scope of knowledge and achievements they and their peers are making. They often reject hierarchical and competitive grading systems and respond better to a more holistic assessment strategy.

The New York State Education Department is currently undertaking an assessment of the systems used by schools for graduation requirements. They are seeking input from the public.

Information on how to participate is available here: http://www.nysed.gov/grad-measures/regional-meetings

Letter and number grades and test scores are not only used for assessing individual students but also the schools that they attend. Just as an individual student’s grades reflect on the relationship between the school and the student, the average of all the students’ grades and the rate at which they graduate reflects on the relationship between the school and the community it serves.

The New York State Education Department has recently released graduation rates for East Ramapo which can be seen here: https://data.nysed.gov/gradrate.php?year=2019&instid=800000039112

I encourage you to take a few minutes to rummage around the education department’s web site. You will find not only this year’s data, but also previous years. You will find not only our district, and a comparison to the state as a whole, but also data for other Rockland County districts and the county as a whole. The TLDR is that there have been small improvements this year for our district and for the state as a whole, and very little change for most other Rockland districts which were already graduating over 90% of their students. If you have any reflections on the data that you would like to share with the school board, you can send them a message at BoardofEducation@ercsd.org. You may want to also copy the Commissioner of Education at commissioner@nysed.gov.

It’s important to note, that just as a number or a letter does not represent a student’s entire achievement or potential, it also cannot completely describe the achievements or health of the school or a school system. It does not accurately encapsulate the many joys and accomplishments of our young people and the dedicated staff that serve them.

That being said, producing graduates has traditionally been viewed as one of the basic functions of the school system. Hundreds of millions of dollars are appropriated towards this goal. A graduation rate of below 90% is cause for concern. The school system must provide the community a study of the causes of the low graduation rate, and especially the very low rates of some subgroups. The school system must be transparent about the actual experiences of students and how this relates to the high dropout rate. The school system must have a plan and communicate that plan effectively to all stakeholders so that adequate community resources can be directed to support young people.

All the powers and duties of the school system are delegated by the state. It is the state which has the constitutional responsibility to the educational civil rights of all children. Year after year, the state education department has reported that graduation rates are unacceptably low, that students are dropping out, that funds are misspent, and that school governance is dysfunctional. Yet the state government has failed to intervene in any meaningful way, resulting in thousands of children not getting the education which is their civil right. Our assessment of the performance of New York State government is that it has failed in its most basic duty.

What difference could state intervention make? In East Ramapo, a tiny slice of the budget, three million dollars per year, is specifically earmarked to fund all-day kindergarten and music and art programming. Just look at what a fantastic success this has been! It begs the question “what would happen if New York State made sure that all funding in East Ramapo was dedicated to specific educational programming?”

We, as a community must also do the difficult job of self-assessment. Many of us deserve credit for being involved. Some attend board meetings, others attend school events or participate in community organizations that support education, such as the Martin Luther King Center in Spring Valley. Staff in the schools often go above and beyond their job description because they love their students. Administration has brought in some new curriculum which students respond well to. There are many more people and organizations doing good work than there is space to list here.

However, there has been a lack of critical analysis and feedback from the community. Parents of students who are failing or dropping out are not bringing their complaints to board meetings. Teachers whose classrooms lack support services, especially for students with emotional difficulties, family issues, and language barriers are not addressing the board with their problems and concerns. Administrators who are facing issues of truancy, overcrowding and under-staffing are not coming forward. The level of cynicism and apathy is not unexpected, because so often our complaints fall on deaf ears. We can fight this by staying focused on the things that we can do, and remembering the difficulties faced by civil rights activists in the past.

Right now, what we can do is help find qualified people to volunteer to serve on the school board. It might be you, or someone you know. Please check out the questionnaire and attend one or both of our upcoming forums.

Thanks for staying with me on this long essay, and for being a Power of Ten reader.

Save the Dates: Two Candidates Forums Scheduled in February

Power of Ten Update
TWO Forums!!!

Due to popular demand, the public will have two opportunities in 2020 to hear from (and rate) those interested in becoming the newest members of the East Ramapo school board.

The Details: Sunday Feb 23 from 4-6 PM at the MLK Center, 110 Bethune Blvd, Spring Valley AND Saturday Feb 29 from 12-2 PM at the Hillcrest Firehouse, 374 N Main St, Spring Valley

Please indicate you can attend the events on Facebook.

Feb 23 link: https://www.facebook.com/events/521423105171430/

Feb 29 link: https://www.facebook.com/events/517690282202113/

Those interested in being candidates are asked to attend and present themselves, and fill out the on-line questionnaire at: www.poweroften.us/2020questionnaire

Serving on your local school board is a great way to make a difference in children’s lives. According to the National School Board Association “Board members are more than policy-makers and administrators; they are advocates for students and their parents and entrusted to engineer a better future.” 

School board members come from many backgrounds. It is important that there be a diversity of skills on the board. People with experience in Medicine and Allied Health, Accounting, Law, First Responders, Education, The Arts, Community Activism, Journalism, and Business, have all been valuable members of school boards. It is a volunteer position, requiring attendance at two board meetings per month and occasional school events such as graduation ceremonies.

If you would like to put your skills to use helping children to get an excellent education, if you can help represent the diversity of our community on the school board, please consider being a candidate, or recommending someone to run.

Call for Candidates

Power of Ten Update
Call for Candidates

For the May 2020 school board election.

Did you know that you (or someone you know) can make a difference in children’s lives by serving on your local school board!

If you can attend two board meetings per month, and occasional school events such as graduation ceremonies; if you would like to put your skills to use helping children to get an excellent education; if you can help represent the diversity of our community on the school board, please consider being a candidate, or recommending someone to run.

School board members come from many backgrounds. It is important that there be a diversity of skills on the board. People with experience in Medicine and Allied Health, Accounting, The Legal profession, Education, The Arts, Community Activism, Journalism, and Business, have all been valuable members of school boards. 

If you are interested in being a candidate, fill out this questionnaire:

www.poweroften.us/2020questionnaire

Deadline to submit is February 23

Those interested in being candidates are asked to attend and present themselves at a public forum that will be held in the end of February (Time and Location TBA). The audience will be provided with a copy of candidates responses and will indicate their choices. Those who are not chosen as candidates are alternates. All are expected to work on the campaign. The best preparation to be next year’s choice is to work for this year’s slate, just as those who have worked on previous year’s campaigns are already working to help this year’s candidates.The election campaign will require 2-4 hours per week attending events, meetings, gathering petitions signatures, etc. for about 10 weeks from March through mid-May. Once elected, you will need to attend school board meetings twice a month and are encouraged to attend at least a few school functions throughout the school year.

Who’s Busing Who?

Power of Ten Update

The NYS Comptroller has released a report that finds that East Ramapo has been paying yeshivas to bus students without documentation that they attend school or even exist.

The comptroller only requested 300 records, a small portion of the thousands of records the district is required to keep to justify the millions of dollars paid to yeshivas. 93 of the 300 records were completely missing and 65 were deficient. Also, “all nonpublic transportation applications for the school years prior to 2017-18 had been destroyed.” The comptroller also found that the number of students that yeshiva private contractors had billed for was higher than the total number of students registered at the yeshivas! The difference was several hundred thousand dollars.

Read the Comptroller’s Report Here

The news about failure to oversee spending on busing for yeshiva private contractors must be read in contrast to the draconian measures taken with public school students.

This year, cost-cutting measures were taken (for public school students only) that maximized the number of children on a bus. The result is that many have longer rides, must search for a seat on a full bus, can’t sit with a friend, and are even told that heavy kids must find a thin partner for a seat. The consultant hired by the district seems to be good at the geometry of putting children and bus runs together like a game of Tetris, but has no idea of the way human beings behave socially, or that children may have feelings. Additionally, the district has sold all it’s buses and laid off all the drivers.

At the same time the district was cutting the transportation budget for public school children, it was paying yeshiva private contractors to “transport students who may not have been eligible or existent.”

In the five years since the Greenberg report, East Ramapo has received tens of millions of dollars of additional state aid. This money has funded Kindergarten, Arts, etc. But the key finding of the report was that the school board favors yeshivas’ needs over public school students’ needs. This has clearly not been addressed, nor is it likely to be addressed without further state action.

The following is a list of payments made to yeshiva private transportation contractors for the 2018-19 school year:

  • YESHIVATH VIZNITZ $2,284,735.35
  • UNITED TALMUDICAL ACADEMY $1,602,478.07
  • CONGREGATION YESHIVA AVIR YAKOV $1,275,266.73
  • BNOS ESTHER PAPA $959,566.17
  • CONGREGATION BETH ROCHEL $954,761.75
  • BOBOV OF MONSEY $635,238.45
  • CONGREGATION BAIS MALKA $574,590.24
  • CENTRAL UTA OF MONSEY $501,833.54
  • YESHIVA BETH DAVID $500,382.37
  • BNOS DERECH YISROEL OF MONSEY $412,980.68
  • BAIS TRANY OF MONSEY $406,087.00
  • CONGREGATION MACHZIKEI HADAS OF BELZ $367,433.28
  • CONG NOIAM MGODIM $319,302.15
  • YESHIVA SANZ-KLAUSENBERG $313,039.86
  • CONGREGATION TORAS EMA $226,969.60
  • CONG. BAIS CHINUCH ATERES BNOS INC. $220,793.16
  • BNEI YAKOV YOSEF OF MONSEY $202,846.20
  • TALMUD TORAH ADAS YEREIM $181,550.88
  • OHR YOCHANAN $162,625.20
  • BOBOVER YESHIVA OF MONSEY $162,391.83
  • CONGREGATION BAIS CHANA MALKA $137,951.44
  • CONGREGATION YESHOUS MOSHE VIZNITZ $120,422.36
  • TALMUD TORAH DARKEI AVOS-MONSEY $112,876.75
  • BETH ROCHEL SCHOOL FOR GIRLS $92,444.50
  • MOSDOS SANZ OF MONSEY $91,851.36
  • CONG TALMUD TORAH D’CHASIDEI $71,484.15
  • CONGREGATION BETH DAVID $56,699.08
  • BNOS CHANA VIEN $30,943.00
  • BNOS ZION OF BOBOV MONSEY $28,842.00
  • MOSDOS SANZ KLAUSENBERG OF MONSEY INC $27,645.80
  • CONGREGATION KOIFER NEFESH $25,707.06
  • CONGEGATION VIEN OF MONSEY $2,347.40

Many of the children transported by the yeshiva private contractors live very close to the schools they attend. For instance, Yeshiva Avir Yakov serves mostly children who reside in the village of New Square, a village only 0.4 sq. mile in area. NY State does not reimburse for “courtesy busing” trips less than 1.5 mile. Additionally, the district allows separate buses for boys and girls.

Righteous Incivility

Power of Ten Update
Announcing a New Format:
Starting with this edition, Power of Ten will attempt to present just one article per issue, rather than the usual two or three.

Righteous Incivility

In the August 28, 2018 issue of The Power of Ten, I wrote that “accusations of ‘anti-Semite’ or ‘bloc-puppet’ have become part of the political dialogue”, and encouraged people to avoid over-simplifications and focus on quality education for all children. Please read it again. (It’s the third article in the issue)

Unfortunately there is still a lot of overheated rhetoric. Was I wrong to call for more civility? Has decorum become an impediment to justice? 

Better minds than mine have addressed this question.

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

As we each continue on our own path of lifelong education, we need to remember that education is transformative. You will grow, and those that you share what you have learned with will grow too. Education is revolutionary, but it does not conquer. Ignorance can be lost, but it’s never defeated. 

CALL TO ACTION: Monday October 28, 2019

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Rockland Clergy for Social Justice CALL TO ACTION
2. Remembering Judith Johnson

1) Rockland Clergy for Social Justice CALL TO ACTION

Rockland Clergy for Social Justice CALL TO ACTION
Rockland Community College, Technical Center Ellipse
October 28, 2019, 6:30 p.m.

RC4SJ will host a meeting of legislators, community leaders, clergy and congregants to assess challenges faced by East Ramapo’s public-school children five years after Hank Greenberg’s study of the District.

In 2015, the New York State Senate rejected Mr. Greenberg’s core recommendation for a state appointed monitor with authority to override unreasonable decisions made by the East Ramapo board and administration (veto power).

This past June, the Senate and Assembly passed legislation for state-appointed monitors to be appointed to the Hempstead, LI school district. In contrast to the Senate’s 2015 rejection of Mr. Greenberg’s recommendation for East Ramapo, Hempstead monitors will be granted authority to override unreasonable decisions made by the Hempstead school board and administration (veto power). East Ramapo deserves no less.

The October 28th meeting will take place at Rockland Community College (RCC) Technical Center, Ellipse, (6:30 p.m.) We hope to develop an action plan supporting legislation similar to Hempstead’s; and to advocate for a state-appointed task force/commission to develop a model of governance for East Ramapo, and similar districts, reflecting Mr. Greenberg’s plea for governance reform.

We ask each of you to invite 5-10 persons interested in promoting social justice and access to educational opportunities for marginalized children.

Speakers:
Rockland Community College President Michael Baston; Olivia Castor, Spring Valley H. S. graduate, Harvard Law School student; Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee; Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski; Senator David Carlucci; Senator James Skoufis; SV NAACP President Willie Trotman; Latinx community, Luis Nivelo; Sheeba Mathai, Hudson Valley Legal Services, East Ramapo graduate; Power of Ten founder Steve White; former East Ramapo board member Steve Price; RC4SJ member Reverend Barbara Hoffman, United Methodist Church, New City, Gordon Wren, President Rockland CUPON, Kinsley Alexandre, Spring Valley H.S. graduate.

Attendees are invited to submit written suggestions and recommendations regarding governance reform, the evening of or before meeting to:
Oscar Cohen (oscarpcohen@gmail.com)

RC4SJ Planning Committee
Micheal Miller, Gracepoint Gospel Fellowship
Oscar Cohen, NAACP, RC4SJ
Rabbi Craig Scheff, Orangetown Jewish Center
Rabbi Paula Mack Drill, Orangetown Jewish Center
Raihan Faroqui, Jerrahi Order of America
Willie Trotman, NAACP

2) Remembering Judith Johnson

Judith Johnson, staunch advocate for justice for East Ramapo students, member of the NYS Board of Regents representing the region that includes East Ramapo, friend of this writer and tireless defender of our children, died Tuesday October 22.

She will be very much missed.

Here is a video of Regent Johnson, speaking in favor of governance reform for East Ramapo at a Strong East Ramapo rally: https://youtu.be/qSSJIuHRWCg

I am sure that what Judith would want each of us to do, is to continue the work she was doing. To speak up tirelessly and fearlessly for justice, and to advocate that every child’s right to a quality education be cherished and protected. 

Visitation will be Sunday, October 27 from 4:00 to 7:00 PM at the RCC Cultural Arts Center, 145 College Rd, Suffern.

A funeral service will be held at the same location on Monday, October 28 at 10:00 AM.

Donations to the Regent Dr. Judith A. Johnson Memorial Scholarship Fund are being accepted at www.rocklandgives.org 

 

 

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.