Inquiry to Action Groups (ItAGs) 2012 – Registration open until Wed. Jan 25th!

Courtesy of TSJ-Chicago –

The New York Collective of Radical Educators is pleased to offer an opportunity for teachers to build community and develop as activists.  Educators will participate in Inquiry to Action Groups linking social justice issues with classroom practice.  Small groups will meet weekly (for a total of six, two-hour sessions plus a kick-off and possible conference workshop) between January and March to share experiences, respond to readings, exchange ideas and develop plans of action. 


2012 ItAGs

1) No Justice, No Peace: Creating a Culture of Peace Through Nonviolence Education

2) Re-Imagining the Identity of Special Education

3) Write On!: Writing for Social Justice

4) Public Education for the 99%

5) Pipeline Pedagogy


1. No Justice, No Peace: Creating a Culture of Peace Through Nonviolence Education

Countless lesson plans have been created to help young people 
identify bullying as a form of violence. Yet so often our attempts to teach peaceful conflict resolution in the classroom ignore the structural violence that many of our students and their families face on a daily basis.  In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” So can we hope to teach peace in the 
presence of injustice?

This is an ItAG specifically for educators who work with
 elementary school children.  Participants will examine the various forms of violence that overtly and covertly manifest themselves in daily life. We will explore the philosophies of practitioners of nonviolence including Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez, and discuss how to introduce and break down these concepts to even the youngest of learners.  Our goal
 is to develop curriculum that goes beyond anti-bullying to help students identify the pervasiveness of violence and the power of nonviolence.

Facilitators: Karla Tobar is a fourth grade bilingual teacher in the
 Bronx. She is a 2011 Ahimsa Center Fellow, an experience that sparked her interest in nonviolence educationAlanna Howe is in her seventh year of teaching in New York City
 Public Schools.  She is currently teaching 5th grade at a dual immersion school in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. 

Location: Project Reach, 39 Eldridge Street, 4th Floor, Manhattan

Dates: Tuesdays from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm. Kick off on 1/27; sessions following on1/31, 2/7, 2/14, 2/28, 3/6, and 3/13.


2. Re-Imagining the Identity of Special Education


What is “Special Education”?  Good question!!

This ItAG seeks to redefine, reinvigorate, and re-imagine what it means for us (educators, service providers, family members) and our students to be a part of the Special Education SYSTEM (roar…). Through the sharing of stories, critical readings/discussions, and transformational art (yes, you might get dirty!) we will collectively re-imagine and recreate the World of Special Education.


Facilitators: Margrit Pittman-Polletta is a Brooklyn native and early childhood Special Education teacher at PS 24 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.  Emily Clark is not a Brooklyn native.  She teaches ninth grade English at Manhattan High School, a District 75 high school, in Manhattan. 


Location: Manhattan High School, 317 West 52nd Street (Between 8th and 9th Aves), Manhattan

Dates: Thursdays from 5:30-7:30 pm. Kick off on1/27; sessions following on 2/2, 2/9, 2/16, 3/1, 3/8, and 3/15.



3. Write On!: Writing for Social Justice

This ItAG will explore what it means to write for social justice.  Participants will engage in writing activities as both writers and teachers of writing. Participants will discuss standards, literacies, and definitions of social justice in relationship to writing as an educational, artistic, and social act.  Ultimately, our goal is to develop strategies, insights, models, and tools that enrich our teaching practice.


Facilitators: Ama Codjoe is the poetry-teaching artist with A.C.T.I.O.N. (a social justice and arts program) and the co-facilitator for the Social Justice Pedagogy Team at DreamYard Project in the Bronx.  Chrissy Williams is a high school English instructor at Arturo A. Schomburg Satellite Academy in the Bronx.


Location: Institute for Urban and Minority Education, 2090 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard. 8th Floor, Manhattan

Dates: Thursdays from 5:30-7:30pm. Kick off on 1/27; sessions following on 2/2, 2/9, 2/16, 3/1, 3/8, 3/15 and 3/22.



4) Public Education for the 99%

The Occupy movement has taken over the country! This ItAG will begin by exploring public education from the vantage point of the 1% (What’s Wall Street got to do with our schools?) and end by re-imagining what public education will look like when democratically run by the 99%. The ItAG will collaborate with members of Occupy the Department of Education (DOE), Occupy Wall Street (OWS), and will be action oriented throughout the process.


Facilitators:  Alba Lamar is a third grade teacher in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.  She is a member of NYCoRE and a member of Occupy the DOE.  Leia Petty is a high school counselor in Bushwick, a member of Occupy the DOE and a contributor to


Location: The Atrium at 60 Wall Street

Dates: Sundays at 12pm (noon). Kick off on 1/27; sessions following on 1/29, 2/5, 2/12 2/26, 3/4, and 3/11.

5) Pipeline Pedagogy

The School to Prison Pipeline is a system of policies and practices within the DOE and the NYPD that push young people away from schools, into the streets, and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Also known as School Pushout, these policies disproportionately affect youth of color, youth with special needs, and youth from low-income families. In these sessions we’ll explore the origins of the pipeline in New York City, what pushout looks like today, and ways in which stakeholders including parents, teachers, administrators and students might work together to help dismantle the system that is depriving the most vulnerable youth populations of a quality education.


Facilitators: Wazina Zondon is a social justice-minded educator and NYCoRE member. She currently teaches sex ed to 8th graders in downtown Brooklyn. Angela Jones is the Coordinator of the School to Prison Pipeline Project at the New York Civil Liberties Union. Her work focuses on improving school safety policies and putting an end to the path that leads students away from schools and toward the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

Location: Project Reach, 39 Eldridge Street, 4th floor, Manhattan

Dates: Mondays from 6:00-8:00pm. Kick off on 1/27; sessions following on 1/30, 2/6, 2/13, 2/27, 3/5, and 3/12.



full descriptions:

ItAG flier 2012

ItAG Kick-Off Meeting

A general kick-off meeting for all ItAG participants will be held Friday, January 27th, 6:00– 8:00 p.m. at NYU, Pless Hall @ 82 Washington Square East (between Greene and Washington Square Park). 3rd floor Lounge. Dinner provided. (Call Ariana @ 917.270.7901 if you have trouble finding the location).


The registration fee is $30. Multiple teachers from the same school can register together for the same ItAG for a reduced rate of $25 each.  This will cover the cost of materials and support NYCoRE’s ongoing work.  More info on itags available at


Register here:



Occupy the DOE! Call to action: photos needed for OCCUPY THE DOE video!

Hi all,

I’m Marie, one of the teachers who worked on the Occupy the DOE video last month The meeting today at Wall St was inspiring and really motivating!  I was very moved by everyone’s perspectives, especially about the charter school movement.
At the meeting, we came to consensus that, given the success of media in spreading the message of our movement, a video (or videos) would be a powerful tool for action at the upcoming December 14th PEP.  We are proposing to use a portable small video projector, to display a video on the walls of the meeting room at the PEP. The video will not have sound.
We need your immediate help to create these videos!  The content of the video will be a photo essay – many images displayed in sequence, on a loop.

These images will be sourced from you!  Or from friends.  So if you feel comfortable, grab a camera(or a cellphone, iPhone, etc)!  Instructions for those who can help are below.

And don’t forget to forward this email to anyone you think can help!
Working title: “Separate is Not Equal”

Charter   vs.   Public

One video we agreed upon will focus on the Brown vs. Board of Ed. statute, “Separate is Not Equal.”   It will show pictures that depict the opulence of Charter Schools, contrasted with images of the poverty of public schools.
Here’s what you need to do:
  1. Take photos of your school’s facilities.
  2. Note whether the image is Charter or Public.
  3. Email them to me:
Remember not to send images that allow you to be identified – we want to avoid specific DOE members from being singled out.
The images we would need from Charter Schools:
(The images do not need be high-res — iPhone photos are fine, it’s the content we’re after)
    • Photos of separate entrances to the building (one for Charter and one for public),
    • separate entrances to auditoriums,
    • separate bathrooms,
    • separate water fountains etc…
    • Anything that shows the division clearly
And anything that shows the wealth:
    • Smartboards,
    • new computers/computer labs,
    • new science labs/science equipment,
    • new books,
    • new gym equipment,
    • lots of space in the cafeteria,
    • new playground equipment, etc.
The images we would need from Public Schools:
  • Anything falling apart or old:
  • leaky roofs,
  • old gym equipment,
  • old computers,
  • old books or lack thereof
  • pavement for a playground, instead of playground equipment
  • overcrowded cafeterias (no kids faces clearly visible)
I am also toying with an idea – that we juxtapose our own images with iconic images from the Civil Rights movement, of separate water fountains and entrances to schools, etc.  My fear is that it would be too incendiary and distract from our message, but also it may draw attention in a dramatic way that could further our cause.  I’m curious to hear what people think.
Working title, “In Solidarity with Occupy the DOE” 

This is a simple concept –  images of the people that support us who maybe can’t be at the PEP meeting. I was thinking any group that wants to, can take their picture behind a banner that say OCCUPY THE DOE and we could project that as we were speaking to show the amount of people that support us. We can open it up to Occupy groups like Save our Schools across the country and get images from everywhere. We can then use that projection for whatever we do, any meeting we go to.
So here’s the action item list:
  1. Create a banner that reads OCCUPY THE DOE
  2. Find students, parents, teachers, (administrators!) who want to pose with the banner.
  3. Find a time to take a group photo op, and take a picture of everyone smiling and holding the banner.
  4. Email it to me!
I am excited to see all the wonderful photos from all of us brave educators! It would be nice to have something done by next Sunday’s meeting so get those pictures to me as soon as possible!
In Solidarity,
Marie Mounteer

Sign Petition – Bring Dec. 14th PEP to Brooklyn Tech!

NYC Department of Education: Bring the December Panel for Educational Policy Meeting to Brooklyn Tech

Sign the Petition

On Tuesday, Nov. 29 – without warning – the DOE suddenly moved the monthly school board meeting from Fashion Industries HS in midtown Manhattan to Newtown HS in Queens, an extremely inaccessible location for Brooklyn, Bronx and Manhattan parents, teachers and students. Considering that all of the proposals on the agenda for this meeting directly affect school communities in these boroughs – especially the proposed co-locations in Brooklyn – we DEMAND that the meeting be returned to Brooklyn Technical HS in downtown Brooklyn.

Sign the Petition




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