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Monday, September 5, 2011

Mayor Mike Bloomberg and CEO Dennis Walcott Do Not Want Public School Students To Know About Constitutional Rights

NYC Dept of Education CEO Dennis Walcott

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg And CEO Dennis Walcott Do Not Want Students To Learn What Their Constitutional Rights Are
by Betsy Combier, Editor,
LINK they can deny these rights.

In 2003 Michael Cardozo asked parent activists to contact the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. about the removal of the New York City Board of Education and the election of school board members, replaced by appointments to a non-functional group called the Panel For Educational Policy. Cardozo handed to us the document below, which has been on my website since I first wrote my article on his denying NYC teachers, parents, and children, their due process rights.

I called the DOJ, told them I was a parent of four children in the public school system and that I didnt want my vote taken away. I asked the DOJ to not approve of this. DOJ attorney Mr. Joseph Rich never got back to me. Betsy Combier
Many years ago I wrote about the denial of rights in New York City: Editorial: The New York City Department of Education is a Sham and Mike Bloomberg is the Flim-Flam Man

I've kept this article on the homepage of this website, at the bottom under "Corruption", for anyone who stopped by to read. If you dont want to read what I have to say, go to the Cardozo document, which I will re-post here:

Michael Cardozo's introduction to his submission which removes the constitutional rights of NYC citizens
Pages index -11
Pages 12-25
Pages 26-41
Pages 42-58
Pages 59-80

I followed up with this:
"I will highlight the claim made in the last paragraph:
"As we have demonstrated above, Chapters 91 and 123 have neither the purpose nor the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color or membership in a language group."

My opinion: the City of NY didn't discriminate, but took the Constitutional rights away from everyone who has been given those rights (who are citizens over the age of 18). This is a crime. But someone might ask, "Well - what about the Community Education Councils, set up to encourage parental participation in public school education?"

Below is an article published in the NY TIMES that describes this lie:"

A Lack of Interest (and Candidates) in New System's School Parent Councils
By JULIE BOSMAN, NY TIMES, April 28, 2007

The stage was set for the candidates' forum. Andrew Baumann, one of nine candidates on the ballot for a school parent council in southwest Queens, was the first person to arrive.

Andrew Baumann, with his son Anthony on a playground in Queens, is running for the parent council in his children's school district. And he was alone.

"Not a single person," Mr. Baumann said disgustedly of the recent nonevent in Community School District 27. "One candidate showed up. Me."

Elections begin on Monday for the 34 parent councils that replaced New York City's community school boards when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg won control of the school system in 2002.

The councils are intended to give parents a voice in running the schools, and to be even more representative of their interests than the old school boards, which were often criticized as rife with pollitical patronage and corruption.

But with parents fuming that the councils have no real authority, no power to institute policy and no influence with the Department of Education, the elections, which run through May 8, have been foreshadowed by skimpy attendance at candidate forums. And in some cases, there is a distinct lack of candidates to run for vacant seats.

While there are nine elected seats on each council, in at least two districts only four or five candidates are on the ballot. (Two additional members of each council are appointed by the borough president.)

So few parents wanted to run that the deadline to become a candidate was extended this year. Two weeks ago, the Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council — a citywide parent group separate from the district
councils — urged a boycott of the vote until the Department of Education "modifies the present election process" to do things like better inform candidates.

Unlike the old school board elections, open to all registered voters, current state law restricts this election so that only the top three officers of each school's parent association vote for council members. Parents serving on the district councils are ineligible to be officers in the parent associations of their own schools.

Many parents who have been elected to the councils say they feel out of the loop, disrespected by an education department that, they say, decides first and asks later.

And several council presidents said they were frustrated by a perceived lack of support from school principals, many of whom do not even know who their council members are.

"The principals feel they don't have to deal with the education councils," said James Dandridge, the council president of District 18 in Brooklyn. "It's like: `Who are you? You can't hire or fire me. You have no pull.' "

The Department of Education says that it is trying to improve the councils, and has scheduled a meeting for May 22 between Chancellor Joel I. Klein and the council presidents. It also hopes to increase voter turnout in the coming election.

"There clearly is more work to be done," said Tom Huser, the director of the councils at the Department of Education. "There definitely is some sense out there that we need to do a better job of bringing the parents into the fold and reaching out to them as we plan programs and make policy for the department."

But in a sign of how useless even the most active parents consider the councils, some districts with long legacies of heavily involved parents have shown the least interest in the coming elections.

In District 2, covering the East Side and much of Lower Manhattan, only two people attended a recent candidates' forum, said Michael Propper, the district's council president.

"By and large, parents don't even know the council exists," Mr. Propper said, adding that he would not be running for another term this year.

Rob Caloras, the council president in District 26 in northeast Queens, a district known for its excellent schools and high levels of activism by parents, said that only five people were running for the parent council.

"It's kind of sad," Mr. Caloras said. "We've lost people who were on the council. They went back to the PTA because they feel it's much more important to be active in their children's schools than waste their time here."

According to David Cantor, a spokesman for the Education Department, the first parent council election in 2004 attracted roughly 1,200 parents who signed up to run. In 2005, more than 1,000 parents signed up; this year, there are 744 candidates.

In several districts, the list of candidates is unusually long. District 17 in Brooklyn has 67 parents on the ballot; District 7 in the South Bronx has 44 candidates; District 22 in Brooklyn has 34.

Frances Torres, a parent support officer in District 7, said that she had been doing "tremendous outreach" for months to recruit candidates. (A parent support officer is a staff job that involves providing services to parents.)

But some parents said even many of the listed candidates had no intention of serving on the councils. One parent in Brooklyn, Betsy Dabney, said she signed up on the ballot for District 17, in Crown Heights and Flatbush, at the urging of a parent coordinator, but was not briefed on many details of the commitment. "I'm not even sure how long the term is supposed to be," Ms. Dabney said.

Mr. Dandridge in Brooklyn said the Education Department was determined to show that the councils were improving and to put pressure on schools to recruit candidates. The result, he said, is parents who have little real interest.

"One candidate came to the first meeting and never came back," he said. "One candidate never showed up. They don't even understand what they're signing up for."

Some potential candidates have been deterred by the financial disclosure forms required of candidates, which ask for employment and personal investment information.

"A lot of people, as soon as they see that on the form, they get really turned off," said Calvin Diaz, an office administrator for District 9 in the Bronx. "Once people see that they have to put down how much money they make, they just feel that that's personal. And they get scared."

Mr. Huser said the Department of Education was working on changing the state law requiring financial disclosure forms. "We do recognize that it is both an unnecessary burden to serving on the council," he

The lack of interest in the coming elections is "an indication of how bad things are," said Tim Johnson, the chairman of the Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council, the group that called for the elections to be boycotted. "I think over all, the Department of Education really doesn't want parents at the table advising them on much of anything. Nothing they do seems to get any attention."

Still, some parents defend the councils, saying that they have seen progress. There is a full council in District 31, which encompasses all of Staten Island, where parents have had a strong voice in their schools. Rajiv Gowda, the council president there, said 28 people were running for seats in the coming election.

"We do have some power," he said, adding that his council passed eight resolutions in the last year.

But even after the elections are over, many parents expect to face the same problems of limited attendance and interest.

Mr. Baumann of District 27, who by day is the president and chief executive of New York Families for Autistic Children, said that to lure parents to the meetings in the past, he invited their children to sing, dance and even recite poetry. Parents still grumbled that their attendance was pointless, he said, because the Department of Education did not listen to their complaints.

"The mayor and the chancellor really don't want us involved," said Mr. Baumann, who calls himself a reluctant candidate for a third term. "When you're running a big corporation, you don't ask the guys
on the loading dock what their opinions are. The way I see it, we're just pushing a box from one side to the other in a warehouse."

Now to the current news:
Bloomberg Schools Flunk the Constitution
We're raising a generation that doesn't know its rights
By Nat Hentoff, Village Voice, August 31, 2011

Years ago, when I was interviewing Justice William Brennan in his Supreme Court chambers for my book, Living the Bill of Rights, he suddenly became somber.

"How," he asked, "can we take the Bill of Rights off the pages and into the very lives of students?" He was aware, even back then, how little time was spent in our public schools on who we are as Americans and what it keeps taking to protect our individual liberties against overreaching governments. (This was before George W. Obama.)

Were he still with us, Brennan would be even more disturbed by a report from an organization that honors his principles and actions, the Brennan Center for Justice in New York.

On April 13, the center released "A Report Card on New York's Civic Literacy" by Eric Lane and Meg Barnette. The report received scant attention or follow-up, but a week later in the New York Daily News, Eric Lane--Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Public Service at Hofstra University Law School--did get space to emphasize that here and nationally, "unless we quickly address our disengagement from and ignorance of the way our government works through aggressive teaching of the basics in our schools, the nation's very strength and prosperity will be at stake."

And especially such very personal Fourth Amendment rights to privacy against "unreasonable searches and seizure." Under our Education Mayor and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, this city leads the nation in "stops and frisks," largely of blacks and Latinos, without the cops first going to a judge. Between January and March of this year, Kelly set a record: 183,326 interrogated with only 12 percent arrested or given a summons (Daily News, June 12).

How would the city's students know about the Fourth Amendment? Here, and throughout the country, the fixation on collective standardized tests in reading and math has led to the absence of civics classes throughout the country. Early in his tenure, I asked Joel Klein about this most basic educational need if this generation and those that follow are not to be conditioned to accept being in a police state as normal. "I'm working on that," Klein assured me. If he ever actually was concerned, this Brennan Center report gives him an F for what he did. And I've heard nothing from Chancellor Dennis Walcott about bringing the Constitution back to our students.

Let me challenge you, Chancellor Walcott.

What do students know about presidential and Justice Department contempt for the separation of powers, which were intended during the formation of the Constitution to prevent our becoming a kingdom? The rampant use, for a present example, by Bush-Cheney-Obama of "state secrets" to prevent cases against a unilateral federal government from even being heard in our courts?

Also, the almost daily increase in our society being in a state of surveillance. The FBI, for instance, can start an "assessment"--an investigation--of any of us without going to a judge.

In what is reliably called "the nation's report card," the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reported on how much citizens know about--and care about--the most dangerous subversions of the Constitution by the Bush-Cheney and now Obama administrations.

This is what "the nation's report card" revealed particularly about students across the country: "Only one in 10 demonstrated acceptable knowledge on the checks and balances (the separation of powers) among the legislative, executive and judicial branches" (New York Times, May 4).

Also: "a smaller proportion of fourth and eighth graders demonstrated proficiency in civics [who we are as Americans] than in any other subject the federal government has tested since 2005."

What is the subject of which they are most ignorant? History!

Now dig this from the Brennan Center Report on New York's Civics Literacy: "For years (all of) New York required social studies (civics) assessment tests for its fourth and eighth grade students. The eighth grade assessment consisted mostly of history questions . . . Overall, New Yorkers did not perform well on those tests, and New York City students performed horribly. At a 2005 hearing of the New York City Council's Education Committee, school officials informed the council members that "more than 80 percent of New York City eighth graders failed to meet state standards in social studies."

So what happened as a result? "School officials said that they pay little attention to fourth and eighth grade social studies assessment tests 'because they are not among the criteria used to determine if schools are performing adequately, either under state regulations or the federal No Child Left Behind law.'"

I remember that when Eva Moskowitz was a member of the City Council--before her Success Charter Network of schools had Harlem parents urgently trying to have their children accepted--she was the only council member to keep after Joel Klein about what he was actually doing to restore classes in civics. Klein did help her charter schools, but I recall nothing he actually did to respond credibly to those questions by her.

Hey, Chancellor Walcott, what do you have to say in response to the following urgent concern in the Brennan Center Report?

"Civic literacy is the prerequisite for developing the ties that bind us together as a nation. It enables us to disagree and pursue our interests and the common interest . . . Without these tools, we are now moving in a different direction, heading toward what the philosopher Michael Sandel calls a 'story-less condition,' in which 'there is no continuity between present and past, and therefore no responsibility, and therefore no possibility for acting together to govern ourselves." While Ray Kelly keeps zealously stopping and frisking citizens.

This column is open to you, Chancellor Walcott, to tell New York students, parents, and other citizens and residents what is being done in real life, real time, to engage students in learning why Thomas Jefferson often warned that the only basic safeguards of our constitutional rights and liberties are in the people themselves.

In one of the last conversations I had with Justice William Brennan, he said to me, "Remember, pal"--he called many people "pal"--"liberty is a fragile thing."

And if you don't know what your constitutional liberties are, how will you be able to realize they're gone?

If I were teaching civics in this public school system, I would ask students to react--after they'd discovered who Jefferson, James Madison, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black ("Don't be afraid to be free!"), et al., were--to what an underrated Supreme Court Justice, David Souter, said while declaring his retirement at the National Archives Museum on May 21, 2009: Who we are as Americans "can be lost, is being lost, it is lost." What's needed "is the restoration of the self-identity of the American people."

Imagine Thomas Jefferson in East Harlem seeing cops stopping and frisking people in total disregard of the Bill of Rights' Fourth Amendment. He'd think King George III had taken back the colonists.

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