Monday, September 17, 2012

Watch Your Backs Buffalo Public Schools

Here we go again folks, the Chameleons are at it again. They've had their land grab paperwork stamped with the New York State's imprimatur and they are holding some more meetings to inform the public of their high minded and noble plans to take East High School and the beautifully revamped Waterfront Elementary building off Buffalo's hands. Mighty white of them don't you 
think ? Last time they threw one of these public information hoedowns it didn't quite go as they hoped. See, they only gave less than 24 hours notice and essentially did everything they could to stifle public commentary. The people who did show up included some slightly insulted Waterfront teachers who asked with all due respect Where the hell does this bunch of lawyers and lawyer's wives get off barging in here demanding we hand over our school to them? The reptiles were a bit offput by their less than enthusiastic reception. So they marched out their angry Latino man Emilio Fuentes to rail at teachers and "the system" advising anyone who dared teaching there that they'd better be ready to "take a haircut" come payday. I guess if you whip yourself into a self righteous frenzy, accusing public school teachers of caring less than the doe eyed TFA grads with 5 weeks of teacher training  popularly hired by charter schools, you can threaten teachers into working for you? 
While the Chameleons will tell us how much they care about "the children" and how  "the children" can't wait to be rescued by them, they somehow forgot that a fair number of "the children" at Waterfront are emerging English speakers. Somehow in all of their caring they apparently don't care so much about these kids. In a further testimony to their deep caring for "the children" the bug eaters also forgot to check with Canisius College who happens to be involved with children and the faculty, administration and staff with some works in progress that everyone including parents have all ready agreed upon.  NOBODY at the meeting aside from the Chameleons voiced any support for their plan. In a similar fashion, forgive me if I repeat myself here, Professor Joe Gardella from U.B. has made the same observation from East High School. In spite of the work he and his colleagues from U.B. and other groups are all ready engaged in at East, the Chameleons have made no approach to them and apparently don't believe so much in collaboration as they do occupation. Professor Gardella writes in Artvoice "As one of many education and social service support partners dealing with students at East High, I note that Chameleon has made no effort to contact us to understand or assess our efforts within East’s educational activities. Further, leadership at East High has been effective and vigorous in describing a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) focus in the turnaround plan for the school. I wonder how the Chameleon plan will engage the ongoing work without an understanding of what is presently underway." 
Anyone else seeing a pattern here? I think in politics it's called My Way or the Highway. After the humiliating public spectacle they made of themselves last time, not expecting to be met with anything but flowers and chocolates, you can bet they'll come with a claque of adoring supporters to cheer their every move. This would be a good training run for Buffalo to show what we are made of and show these people that being pals with Sam Hoyt and a few well connected lawyers doesn't give you the right to barge in and start taking over Buffalo Public Schools. Again if you asked for any of their educational background and or teaching experience, let alone teaching urban students it wouldn't fill a fortune cookie. Yet they think they can waltz in and tell us we don't know what we're doing then bamboozle us with their data based truckload of horseshit.  The data they don't like shows that their charter schools are generally substandard, their teacher turnover is huge and their standardized test worship is good for taking standardized tests but it sucks for teaching kids how to think and problem solve in the world. They also get rid of kids with disabilities and kids who might hurt their testing scores. Don't let them get away with this.

Here is the schedule, the first meeting is 2 days away :

Community Meeting Dates

Buffalo Board of Education
The Executive Affairs Committee Meeting
801 City Hall
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
5 PM
Community Health Center
34 Benwood Ave.
Buffalo, NY  14215
Monday, October 22, 2012
6-7 PM
Belle Center
104 Maryland Ave.
Buffalo, NY  14201
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
6-7 PM


  1. Thanks for the info, Sean. I am hoping that the Waterfront teachers will have time to contact their awesome retirees and get them to attend these meetings. Also, parent voices will be important. It would be a shame if the Chameleons are able to simply take two of our public schools without a fight.
    Don't forget that every conversion charter is a feather in Commissioner King's royal cap. Our new Superintendent is most likely more interested in getting the approval of Dr. King than in fighting for public education in Buffalo. We are just the first rung on her ladder of success. She'll be gone in two to three years and we'll be stuck with private schools using public money. The current staff at Waterfront and East will need to scramble for jobs next year. Charters are not unionized and wages and benefits will be negotiated with the Chameleon Corporation. Hold on to your hats everyone, cause the Chameleons are planning to give you a nice "haircut"!

  2. Scary stuff. The bold arrogance of these reptiles! We have to mobilize and vocalize. You know they will be stacking the speakers lists so the pro-charter hogwash flows and every "for the children" plea is made. Remember Amber wasn't going to let them start plucking schools from the district. I don't think we will get the same response from Dr. Pam. This will only be the beginning. If they ever get their claws (is that what chameleons have?) on Waterfront and East, more BPS schools will have to fight becoming the next "conversion charter." I think those opposed to these reptiles should speak up, articulate their positions (as those this summer did), and clearly state over and over - "we do NOT want chameleon taking our schools." Please spread the word far and wide - teachers, parents, students, alumni need to be heard. This is worse than a slippery slope. They will keep hijacking our schools and if they detect complacency will just ask us to leave the keys in the door.

  3. The required Round 3 "Letter of Intent to Establish a Charter School to be Authorized by the New York State Board of Regents" was approved on August 30th for both buildings (East and Waterfront). That means that the Chameleons have met all submission requirements and the next step is a full application. I imagine these three meetings that have been set up this Fall are simply requirements that will be checked off on some checklist in the application process. If these conversion charters happen, it will be a HUGE coup for Commissioner King and a total slap in the face to public education in the city of Buffalo. Does anyone really have ANY questions or doubt as to the Superintendent's allegiance? I am sure that the Chameleon Group's paid staff has been working hard since the last meeting to cajole some parents into saying that they WANT charters. That was certainly NOT the case last time.

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  5. The Chameleon Group is so lacking in experience that I counld't find even one school that they manage. Since the three main characters in this potential tragedy are "founders, co-founders and parents at the Tapestry Charter School ,they may claim their 5 ( out of 10) rating by The Great Schools, a top recommendation for starting their business venture.
    Valarie Nolan has a Bachelors and a Masters in English. That qualifies her to write grants and applications, but not to run a school.
    Steve Polowitz is a lawyer who went to school for a long time. That qualifies him to make sure the legal matters are covered so they don't go to jail for stealing taxpayer-owned buildings, and land .
    Amy Friedman is an involved parent who is trying hard to be relevant in the privatizing of public education.
    Steve P. and Amy F. are very involved in the Tapestry Charter School, which has a 5 (out of 10) rating by the Great Schools Organization. That is equal to nearby school in their location. Only 70% of the teaching staff is credentialed.
    It is unimaginable that the Board and Dr. Brown would allow .group if unproven "managers" to take over either of our school buildings for their own self agrandisement. Even Dr. King should not be so foolhardy.
    "For the sake of the children" ,the Regents should insist on the release of money being held by the SED and let the professional educators do their jobs with proper class sizes , adequate supplies and unfettered by the lousy mandates of NCLB and RttT.

  6. The Chameleons have declared that the class sizes in their proposed school would be 20 students. The Waterfront school could only accomodate 680 students with that number of children in a class.
    What will happen to the other 300 children already attending the Waterfront school?
    Give the present teachers that number of kids in a class and watch them all thrive !
    The Chameleons have also proposed increasing the staff from 90 to 133 including many specialists.
    If that is granted to unproven business entrepreneurs, why not to the Public Schools that already exist ?
    ( Properly staffed and supported Public School Teachers are the best in the country! Having professional businessmen hire, fire, and make up all the rules is a recipe for disaster.)

  7. Public School Superintendents should support the public schools.
    Dr Pamela Brown should flick the chameleons off her shoulder and start working for the schools she was hired to lead.
    The Charter schools are not subject to her decisions.
    The Board of Education does not have any power over charter schools either. Only Public Schools are "under" the Board and Superintendent.
    THEREFORE: Charter schools are NOT public schools.They just use public , taxpayer money.
    They are businesses and answer to their Boards. They should not get any taxpayer money. Why do they?
    Ask your legislators.

  8. Hear, hear, Peg! You have really put the important points out there. And while the Public School teachers and admins are wasting tons of time grappling with the crazy guidelines for producing nonsensical SLO's and APPR's, the Chameleons are paying big money to people (non-profit, of course!) to write and submit their charter proposal. The New York State Regents are salivating over the opportunity to privatize our Public Schools. Wait! I thought the Regents were charged with the task of "protecting" our Public Schools, children, and funding? Guess not.
    Oh, and while our Public School teachers are spending inordinate amounts of time slavishly developing SLO's and being berated for using their professional judgement to PROPERLY set growth targets for the students they teach, the charter school teachers are NOT. Yes, that is correct. No APPR nonsense for charter schools.

  9. How nice of them to schedule their "meetin" tomorrow at 5:00 o'clock! Workers are just getting out of work, parking ramps are still full, no pareking on the street..etc. Golly gee, what a considerate bunch of "save the world" marauders. Guess they don't want too many outsiders to witness their shenanigans.

  10. Chalk and Peg,
    Here is little blurb I picked off of Ednotesonline today.
    - the very idea of a lottery is a form of cherry picking
    - the advertising for charters to targeted audiences also is cherry picking
    - if some child or parent who are "difficult" should get through the lottery, they are counseled out
    -that the DOE,the Regents, the very people running public schools actually favor charters and starve(*) the public schools to make the charters look better.

    In what way are charters schools "public"?

    *"Starve" can also mean financially overburdening public schools, districts, administrators and teachers with debilitating "guidelines" and time consuming legal flim flam. Note: the BPS has created a bloated and expensive "Race To The Top" department, top heavy with highly paid admins and mid-level drones. They are also hiring a "Director of Educational Partnerships" (which will require a full staff), a "Director of Federal & State Programs" (which will require a full staff), a "Director of Parent and Family Engagement", (which will require a full staff), ad nauseum, all of this on top of the money they have already wasted on "data coaches" and all of the other "coaches" who have NO CONTACT with students.

    This is just an inking of how cravenly the RTTP money is spent. And the public wonders why teachers can easily say "we don't care about the RTTP money".


  11. The News says the Board is pissed and may not even let these freaks speak at the meeting. It appears they've not only blown off the EPOs at Waterfront and East but the Board as well. From what the paper says the only way this thing ever goes forward is with the approval of the Board. If we need any further evidence of DrPamelaBrown's leadership or lack thereof this ought to give us a representative sampling. She can speak out, defend her schools from the poachers or she can play pattyckae with Albany in fear of angering Commissioner King and his coterie of charter sycophants. I wish I had a better feeling about the way she is going to go but that shot of her and King doing the strut around the old Seneca Vocational struck me as too chummy for words. Look at us, the minority Ivy leaguers saving the souls of the inner city. Arrrgh.