New Hempstead School Report: Unsatisfactory

Of course the Hempstead School District could have done much much better!  And so can the Board of Regents.  And so can the State Education Department.  And so can the legislature and governor.  Please read the press release at the bottom of the Eric Stevenson Exploratory Campaign for Congress – 15th Congressional District.

The politics certainly gets in the way in Hempstead and reminds me of Donald Trump making things up all the time.  There have been a lot of collusion and obstruction of justice for the community.  I loved watching the CBS Report, but let’s be honest about it.  I would never have wanted my own work to have been presented in the way it was presented.  There are too many generalizations even as specific things are presented.  I am talking about accomplishments.  You can watch for yourself and learn from what I write.  The key thing about the school is clearly that students were not doing well enough.  Focus on that statement and let’s go to the video tape to see the improvements mentioned.  That’s a lot of viewing and that means intense viewing (117 minutes).  In a report of an hour and seventeen minutes there should be more about the players: the superintendent, the teachers, the parents, the students, the board members, and the community including elected officials.

Let me get to important things first as a road map.  I have talked to Randy Stith (board member) and emailed Hempstead for Hempstead.  I am just being brief about this to set the stage.  You really do not see a community in great need in the presentation.  With sixty percent of students not graduating for years, we have no clue how those students are going to make it in society.  What is the level of unemployment in Hempstead as a result of not having a diploma?  What is the increase in people on social welfare assistance also?  How many people are going to jail and how early in life do they end up incarcerated or in detention houses?   What is the effect on families and its impact in school?  Where is the mention of the “pipeline to prison” that I hear in communities around our nation?  The reporting does cite decades of problems, but revolutionary or significant change requires lazar like moves that impact greatly and those moves require superior knowledge.  And the problem is as much about community as it is about the people in the schools of Hempstead.  In 2002 I learned that I could not count on reporters to write about my best ideas and I had my first article published in Spanish in a newspaper in Brentwood and never looked back as several hundred articles came pouring out to help people.

I will quickly tell things that you can learn to make things better.  When a student appeared on his way to getting suspended, I gave the required helpful information to the parent the afternoon before to prevent it.  When students were being held back by staff from taking the G.E.D. I was the only teacher who spoke up against the administration.  When parents were making the wrong decision about keeping their child in class instead of taking the test, I provided information to help the student earn the diploma sooner.  I cited the correct interpretation of the regulations of the State of New York instead of going along with a program that was holding the students back (December 19, 1999 NY Newsday article on that),  When students were in class longer only to reach a slightly higher test mark to get into college, I wish I had known at that time that student who passed the test could retake the G.E.D. one more time in order to satisfy the college’s requirement to share with students in that situation.  That student might have gotten a job with the diploma and studied more after passing the test to gain admittance to college.  When the instruction was wrong or bad, I intervened.  Students were told that they could leave the program and take the test on their own.  I used to tell the students that people who did leave the program came back and waived their diplomas at the administration when the diploma arrived in the mail.  There was no parent involvement as schools know parent involvement, but if there had been real parent involvement, I probably could have caused a revolution in the G.E.D. programs in New York City.  What I have wanted for Hempstead since the early 2000s and especially since I wrote an article in La Tribuna Hispana USA is for each graduating class to have 100 percent graduation through the Hempstead High School diploma and the G.E.D.  And in stating all this, I can assure you that the Regents of the State of New York, the New York State Assembly, and the governor have conspired to hold people in Hempstead and other communities back.  I wrote days ago to the assemblywoman featured in the CBS presentation and I have not heard from her.    At one point in the Carolyn Gusoff report, Shimon Waronker points out the need for pre-GED and GED programs (apparently there has not been any).  I will get to that later.

Shimon Waronker missed certain deadlines according to opponents of Waronker.  That was not addressed strongly in the report.  Waronker’s contract did stipulate that his company would be paid and people would be hired.  That clearly shows no corruption of his mind which is important in determining guilt.  Now if he had never had that part of his contract redacted, there might have been another story to tell.  It was wrong for people to say that he was “raping” the students because of that money.  And the majority of the board was hiding when it was revealed that the money for the investigation into Waronker had to come from teachers’ salaries.  There is no consistency in the arguments of the majority.    I have spoken to Melissa Figueroa about Waronker and I thought that he was probably not the best person for the job.  Here is what I was thinking beside what I have written about him.  What did he put in place in Hempstead that he used in J.H.S. 22 Bronx and used successfully?  For example were gang members brought into the student government?  I wrote to Hempstead for Hempstead and never got a response from the president.  The response I got was in June 2017 and it looked promising.  After various messages exchanged this was the reply, “Thank you very much I will definitely read and forward to the executive board of HFH.”  Lots of material was sent to that FACEBOOK. 

There are so many generalizations made about and against Waronker and about and against the opposition.  I wanted to see things that specifically supported Waronker such as the gang piece being instituted.  He was there for many months and he should have had a plan that people could refer to since it was repeatedly mentioned that he had no plan and he had a plan.  What were the five best things instituted by his educational group while they were in the Hempstead School District?  What amazing things did the students feel that he accomplished, particularly where those things could be compared to the previous administration or administrations?  How was parent involvement changed?  There are lots of things that could have been mentioned so that we get a clearer sense of his accomplishments in the district.  Just being a Harvard grad and being written up in the New York Times are insufficient, but denigrating his accomplishments should not be tolerated either. And keep in mind that Randy Stith wanted to see how an administrator from an urban situation in the South Bronx could accomplish things in a suburban setting called Hempstead.  The common elements shared by the South Bronx and Hempstead have been obvious to me for decades, its people and problems.  And we would want to see what things that Waronker became famous for in the Bronx were discarded in Hempstead.  Everything counts, everything matters.

I was very suspicious of Hempstead for Hempstead, especially since I watched their own video on FACEBOOK as they were overjoyed about taking back the district.  The district belongs to everyone.  I have gone through that with people from El Salvador in the Brentwood School District as there were warring factions there back in the early 2000s.  Hempstead’s performance may not be entirely the result of the school board, but advertising the students who were selected by Ivy League schools may not be the result of the hard work of teachers.  Great students often succeed across racial and ethnic lines and learn very little in the classroom.  They’ve got talent and the skills to make things happen and can do it anywhere.

Getting back to Shimon Waronker and the G.E.D. is a one sentence statement without any supporting information or material.  Did he make that request in writing to the school board?  Did he make that request in writing to the state education department?  If he did what was the response?  I know that the Hempstead School District cut out the G.E.D. program in CASA when Ed Mangano took office.  I know that the New York State Education Department including the Regents have made horrible decisions related to the G.E.D. program.  CBS should finally do an exposé of those governmental entities that have created big losses of G.E.D./T.A.S.C. since forever.  I know Chancellor Betty Rosa and I have talked with and corresponded with Roger Tiles and I gave up on both.  I have sent information to the secretary of the Board of Regents and spoken to him often.  Now I am sure that the Regents have done other work that is either good or superior, but they have failed millions of people.  The governor is involved as well.  The Hempstead School District should immediately report the numbers of students who did not graduate and who took and passed the TASC exam.

As a G.E.D fanatic I have had a profound influence and largely because my knowledge is superior.  Specifically I have impacted on the office of Jeb Bush when he was governor (everyone should take note of the fact that New York State Education Commissioner was rising to the top in Florida in those says and I helped correct a situation with William Ammons in the governor’s office).  I informed the governor of New York and he immediately transferred $2.1 million into the state budget in 2007.  I have helped people pass the G.E.D. who live in other countries including Bulgaria and Argentina.  I help people a lot by phone and by email, even a day before one of them took and passed the test in Ohio.  And people ask what I do as in where do you teach?  I helped a Salvadoran that BOCES would not even accept in its program because he only went to the second grade in elementary school.  I have either helped and/or given advice that was helpful to students who dropped out of Stuyvesant, Bronx High of Science, and Brooklyn Tech in New York City.  And now I am deeply committed to helping former New York State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson who will be meeting community organizations as he prepares his run for Congress in the South Bronx.  The very same things that are needed to excel in teaching G.E.D./TASC/HISET are needed in preparing students to pass all of their classes.  So with great numbers of students who are deficient in Hempstead schools, those students really do not have to wait for four years to be turned around.  They could learn the basics from a school-based FACEBOOK page that could reach the home and make parent’s much better informed of their children’s progress.  If fifteen percent of the students, for example, do not know about the 3,4,5 right triangle, send the information home to the students on FACEBOOK and watch them learn.  It can be that simple.  And students that don’t seem to know the past tense in Spanish, for example, could benefit from one of the best lessons that a teacher has to provide and learn yo pasé mi vacación en México.  Far fewer students would have fallen through the cracks in the year that Waronker spent as superintendent.  And there’s much more that the Regents can provide to CBS News.  I also want to know how many students who graduated in 2019 were expected to graduate on time two years before in 2017 and how many students who were expected to graduate on time did not graduate on time.  And why?  And I hope that students will be able to get tutoring that will make a difference, a badly needed difference.

I watched about 20 segments from Hempstead School Board meetings and there were hardly any parents there.  I know that parents are busy, but it is unacceptable and has anyone done a survey to find out why parents hardly attend?  Parent involvement matters!  In the last several months I spoke with and emailed the president of the high school and he never called me to invite me to talk to the parents. 

The anti-Semitism that has come out still has not been explained to my satisfaction.  I learned about the anti-Semitism in a conversation from a board member.  It seems that the pot was stirred when Waronker held a meeting on a Sunday, which Randy Stith was critical of, because people were in church on that day.  And there was a community person that seemed to cite “racism” for the same reason.  The Sunday meeting could have been provided to the entire community by video to help the community and that kind of divisiveness was not necessary, particularly since Waronker is an observing Jew and apparently the meeting had to be held on a weekend.  It was understandable to people except Randy Stith and others had to put a divisive spin on it.  We Jews are always conscious of being Jewish among others and we sometimes use being Jewish to make a difference in the lives of people.  John F. Kennedy thought that African-Americans could learn a lot from Jews as the Civil Rights’ struggle heated up.  I just told Eric Stevenson how a so-called “three-time loser” and a “menace to society (stated by a judge)” became my G.E.D. student around 1997.  I took him to eat in a kosher deli in Astoria where I recommended that he order the pastrami sandwich.  As he sat there, he asked me would it be okay to put mayo on the sandwich and I replied no you have to put mustard.  This reminded me of a Black man who asked me on a subway platform back in the 1970s what he should put on a Gabila knish (the square one) and I replied mustard no ketchup.  My student went to jail again and he said that I was the only person who wrote to him.  And the pastrami sandwich story spread among the inmates.  This portraying of a Chasidic Jew as being “racist” even in the CBS report, stirs the pot of anti-Semitism and will reach communities all across New York State.  And that is dangerous, especially since we know there is a spike in anti-Semitism and we see attacks on Jews in Brooklyn on television.  So that part of Gusoff’s report needed editing to show healing instead of pointing a finger at Waronker who is a very large target.

Then we should ask what effect Jack Bierwirth has had on the progress in education, the educational component.  How did his suggestions boost state test scores or even classroom test scores?  The results for 2019 have to be certified for this troubled district.  And the need for change is still there.  September will be a time to put many of my ideas into action.  Here is my previous article about Hempstead that should finally make the news.  I think that it will take another documentary about all of the players and the mistakes that they have made to turn Hempstead around.

I want to share with you a video and material that was sent to me which I decided to include.  Long before there were Koufax and Roseboro in the World Series and the New York Mets playing in Shea Stadium not far from Hempstead, New York (of course the Mets played first in the Polo Grounds in Manhattan), there were Johnny Podres and Roy Campanella.  It was an amazing baseball experience in 1955.  The Bums won!  I met Roy Campanella’s granddaughter in Philadelphia where we were panelists in the Afro-American Museum.

“With the weekend of Juneteenth ending I feel as though slavery never really ended doing the work of civil rights today I see so many egregious things happening to the African-American communities this structural violence and ending it is my work today,  We the people must eradicate structural violence.. we have a public health crisis, until the public is healthy,  and we eradicate racism, by dealing with the ugly truths,  we can never create public safety being the granddaughter of Roy Campanella I think little black boys still have less opportunities to play the game especially in the inner cities.. the cost for single moms just can’t afford it I believe that my grandfather would probably turn over in his grave in 2019 to know that the very things that held him back still remain the same today.”  Campy was driving home to Glen Cove when he had the accident that paralyzed him in 1958.

Shimon Waronker worked in JHS 22 Bronx and I met Campy in JHS 22 Manhattan, where the Dodgers favorite was a guest speaker long after the accident.  At the age of eleven, I pitched in Ebbets Field before the Dodgers’ game, but unfortunately I didn’t have the honor of meeting and pitching to Campy that night (Al “Rube” Walker was the catcher that night in 1956).

Gale Muhammad, Campy’s granddaughter asked me to share the video and I took immediate action.  That’s what we all need to do now

The work of Mark Cohen should interest my readers.  Mark paints Holocaust and Black Lives Matter.  Here is his work.  Artist Mark Cohen has a collection of Black Lives Matter artwork including one of the Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston.  Here you can study his work called The Charleston Nine.  At the end of his paintings are the photographs of Red Morgan who has devoted 40 years of his life to photographing African Americans.  Red Morgan has many photographs of church life and even one of Busta Rhymes.

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Race In America

The 400 Year Struggle For Equality

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 Press Release Eric Stevenson Exploratory Campaign for Congress – 15th Congressional District            June 24, 2019

I believe that every member of every family should be a graduate of either high school or an equivalency (TASC, G.E.D. HISET).  This includes our very important immigrant community.  The ethnic statistics for G.E.D. that have been published since 2008 reveal that New York has a major problem and the program existed for decades before and that is not enough adults are graduates of an equivalency.  In fact New York has lagged behind most of the nation, particularly in the granting of diplomas to African-Americans.  The South Bronx can count on my support to introduce a bill to the Congress of the United States that will make the TASC test free, funded to the maximum needed, and all states’ and local rights’ will be removed and have federal protection.  No longer will our people have to wait for two months up to seven months as happened in the past.  The test will be given to people within days through the calendar year.  In addition the Spanish test will be given in all testing sites in New York and across the United States of America.  It is estimated that more than 1.6 million people in New York has no diploma at all and the South Bronx may have much more than one of every four adults who need a diploma for either jobs or college or the military.  In addition this new -generation of high school equivalency will provide the assistance to our youth at the earliest possible age making them much more productive throughout their lifetime.  New York City has hundreds of thousands of disconnected youth who get involved in trouble instead of education and the workforce. 

I am ready to write a position paper to explain more than has been presented here.  I am ready to fight for the people and produce great things and position myself as the candidate that is needed to help everyone.

Contact Eric Stevenson 646-455-9407

Martin Danenberg 631-807-0820

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