I sat across the aisle from Clifford Thomas at the PEP meeting yesterday. He looked bone tired.
Cliff grew up in the projects, eventually making his way to Harvard. He has now returned to New York to start a public charter school in CSD 19.
As anyone who has ever started a public school knows, it is all-consuming work, the recruiting of students, the hiring of staff, putting together the various systemsÖall of the thousand operational details that have to be attended to. Meanwhile, because of the UFT/NAACP’s lawsuit, his energies have been diverted from school planning and start-up to doing everything he can to just open the school doors come Augustóand endlessly communicating to the 100 families he made a commitment to and who trusted him to provide their children with a school. They are, if anything, even more concerned about what the Fall holds than he is.
If you ask him, he can’t even begin to understand why the lawsuit included his school, Invictus Prep. He has higher numbers of special education and English Language Learners in his starting class than the public school with which he will be located. He’s worked hard at engaging the parents and the community. And he is absolutely not interested in getting a second more of gym, library or cafeteria time than would be fair.
I can’t believe that anyone at the UFT or the NAACP really wants to impede people like Cliff from starting a school that has such promise and that will be led by someone who has chosen to give back to his community.
There’s got to be a better way for the UFT to make its point because this is bad for everyone.