18 Jun

For Whose Protection?: Harlem Residents Complain About NYPD Checkpoints

Police barricades allegedly meant to “crack down on drug-related gang violence” in Harlem are now the source of controversy themselves. For the last two weeks, police have been putting up metal barricades at 129th Street between Fifth and Seventh Avenue to check IDs of people going in and out of the blocks. If individuals do not live on the block, they have to get a resident to come and vouch for them. Police said the barricades were set up following the shooting of a 25-year-old man while he was playing basketball earlier this month. Authorities said they received word from community leaders that there was going to be some sort of retaliation from gang members because of the shooting.

Some locals say it is a good measure because police are stopping violence, but others say they are concerned because it is like putting the entire community on lockdown. “Some people have bags, they have to put their groceries down to show ID? I don’t think that’s right, do you?” said one local. “I’m an old woman, I can’t be showing my ID every time I walk.” “They screen people, but then you’ve got other people that are new to the block that come in vehicles and I’ve seen them waving through, you know, so that’s one of the downsides of the checkpoint, that it creates selective screening and stuff like that,” said one resident. “I don’t think it’s effective, really.” (more…)

14 Jun

American Aparthied: The Scars of Stop-and-Frisk

The Scars of Stop-and-Frisk

A short documentary film on New York’s stop-and-frisk policing focuses on Tyquan Brehon, a young man in Brooklyn who says he was stopped more than 60 times before age 18.

20 Jan

Modern American Education: Coming to a Classroom Near You

The CPS Grind on Teachers By Katie Osgood

Recently, in Chicagoland, a story hit the papers about a teacher committing suicide. She wrote in her suicide note that the major reason for this drastic act was work-related. According to her colleagues, this woman took her own life because of the bullying and fear she experienced at her school.

Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emmanuel

As I discussed this event with a friend who is a current CPS teacher, he mentioned that in the comments section of the article many non-educators were shocked and horrified at this tragic happening but were also quick to assume that the woman must have been “soft” or had some kind of underlying mental health problem. But, he quipped, when many CPS teachers heard about the incident, they just shook their heads and said, “Yeah, I can see that happening.”

Truth is, so could I. When I think back to my measly one year of teaching at a horribly-run CPS elementary school, I can very easily imagine that scenario unfolding with a number of my colleagues and yes, even with myself. Did you all catch that? Suicide is not considered shocking in the realm of teaching in CPS.

And I don’t think the general public understands the toll that years of working in an increasingly horrible environment coupled with the latest wave of teacher-bashing actually takes on the people who do the hard work of education.

Let me try and paint you a picture: (more…)

05 Oct

On Fire: Judge Smacks Down NY Fire Department Over Racism; Hiring Practices

In a lacerating decision that accused Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of willfully ignoring the racial imbalance in the New York Fire Department, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday that a court-appointed monitor would be installed to oversee the department’s recruitment efforts and ensure that more minority candidates are hired.
The decision by the judge, Nicholas G. Garaufis of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, comes at the end of four years of bitter litigation in which the city and the Fire Department stood accused of allowing the department to remain almost 97 percent white for decades, despite the fact that the city’s population is about 25 percent black.

Judge Garaufis’s ruling was remarkable for both its language and its substance. He accused the city of “blame-shifting” and “accountability-avoidance” in ignoring the department’s longstanding racial inequities. “The city still doesn’t get it,” he wrote. The judge ruled that the only way to combat this official intransigence was to appoint a monitor with wide-ranging powers and a tenure of at least 10 years.

“The evidence adduced in this case gives the court little hope that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg or any of his senior leadership has any intention of stepping up to the task of ending discrimination at the F.D.N.Y.,” Judge Garaufis wrote. Later in the ruling, he continued, “Instead of facing hard facts and asking hard questions about the city’s abysmal track record of hiring black and Hispanic firefighters, the Bloomberg administration dug in and fought back.” (more…)

21 Feb

Save Our Boys of Color: NYC DOE Threatens to Close All-Boys High School in the South Bronx

Glossed over in the recent stories about the New York City Department of Education and school closings is that one of the schools targeted for closing is The Urban Assembly Academy of History and Citizenship for Young Men (UAAHC), one of two all male high schools in the city. It is being considered for closure based upon school report grades received under an administrator who no longer works at the school as of August 2010. Despite having new leadership and changes in curriculum, the future still looks grim for a school that has successfully surpassed the odds and graduated Black males at a rate 15 percentage points higher than the city, even in it’s worst year. For more on the school check the this link http://uaahc.tumblr.com/
Watch here as a teacher from the school makes a spirited defense of the school to the Depart of Education panel.
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