Who We Are
Betsy Combier is the mother of four girls. . Email: email@example.com
After a family tragedy she became an advocate. Betsy is an award-winning writer, video producer, journalist and advocate, and is president of ADVOCATZ, a paralegal consulting business for people who need a partner as they go through the Courts, grievances, or life problems.
She is Editor of the website Parentadvocates.org, and several blogs: NYC Rubber Room Reporter, National Public Voice, and NY Courts - New York Court Corruption; President/Director of Theater Kids, Inc.; and President of The E-Accountability Foundation, a 501(C) 3 not-for-profit company which funds exposure of public corruption, fraud and misconduct by public servants and judges. Betsy is an advocate who has successfully assisted parents, children, and caregivers with the educational needs of their children, and has been advocating for the due process rights of Union members - in particular, members of the AFL-CIO, United Federation of Teachers and Local 32 B&J - for 17 years. She has paralegal experience and has won several cases in the New York State Supreme Court and one decision in the Appellate Division First Department. Betsy has a BA in Child Psychology from Northwestern University; MA Certificate from the Johns Hopkins' School For Advanced International Studies, where her specialization was the Soviet-Military-Industrial Complex; MPS in Interactive Telecommunications from New York University; and Certificate in Art and Drama Therapy from The New School. She moved to Cairo, Egypt, in 1979, where she designed and implemented a project using solar-powered video technology in the Nile Delta area to establish participatory local management of rural development projects. Betsy's dad P. Hodges Combier was the Assistant Attorney General for the State of New York for 30 years, working with Louis Lefkowitz. She is the grandaughter of Samuel Strauss, who purchased The Des Moines Leader with Allan Dawson in 1859, then in 1902 consolidated The Des Moines Register with The Leader and a year later sold the paper to Gardner Cowles. He was later publisher of The New York Evening Globe and from 1910 to 1916 was treasurer of The New York Times. Betsy is a member of the National Writer's Union, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Judicature Society, the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, New York State Trial Lawyers Association, NAFE, National Freedom of Information Coalition, and many other national organizations. CONTACT Betsy, firstname.lastname@example.org
IN MEMORIAM: "Polo"was an educator with 36 years teaching experience in Early Childhood Education, in Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten. He held a license and Master of Science in School Administration and Supervision/ School District Administrator in New York. He was an advocate for quality early childhood education for all children. He strongly believed in the David Elkind view of "Miseducation" in early childhood education and subscribed to the Lillian Weber approach known as "Open Classroom". One example of his advocacy was his strong and vigorous opposition to increased testing in Pre-K and Kindergarten.
An advocate for teacher's rights, championing union causes in the Day Care Union, Local 1707, as elected shop steward for his chapter, as well as elected member-at -large in the union leadership, he believed that quality education for our youngest begins with updating and upgrading teachers' performance by empowering teachers to uphold and defend developmentally appropriate educational practices. While serving in the Day Care Union, he was also employed by the Union to help organize Spanish-speaking Day Care Centers and was Editor of the city-wide Day Care Union Newsletter, "TCB".
Polo was a teacher in the New York City Board of Education for more than 21 years, beginning with the inception of the Board of Education's first Pre-K program, "Project Giant Step". In years following he was elected Chapter Leader Alternate. As a reassigned teacher, he was elected as Liaison Alternate in the Brooklyn, NY "rubber room", and fought the arbitrary, malicious and capricious violations of teachers' rights, both in the schools as well as in the situation of re-assignment. He was a whistle-blower who was retaliated against for reporting Principal Liza Caraballo's illegal use of a paraprofessional as a head teacher in violation of the "No Child Left Behind Act". He was our close friend and ally. RIP, Polo.
In 1992, Karen earned her Masters degree in Reading and returned to teaching after having raised a family only to discover teacher abuse and its deadly effects on this profession. She began working as a teacher activist in 1995, not knowing one other teacher courageous enough to speak publicly. She persevered as a teacher, while being harassed, so she could document what the administrators were doing, and expose it. Karen wanted to accumulate proof to show public officials. She says, "I have it because I was terminated and had a hearing that fully demonstrates what a disgrace teacher abuse really is. I turned down a multiple six figure offer to go away so I could have this proof."
Still working to hold the education system accountable (2003 A For Accountability Awards), Karen was removed from her school and decided to fight back by starting a website called www.endteacherabuse.info, or NAPTA with the intent to force change. She wants to highlight the unjust, harassing and illegal abuse being levied against teachers who cannot fight back. Their listserv has teachers and parents from every state in America, and the stories are preserved in graphic detail. Karen is now documenting the undoing of our justice system in a book.
Dave Zenker, CPA, MAFIS
Publisher, Texas Journal
Dave has been a long time observer of public education generally and Texas Public Education specifically. With the birth of his son Jack, his academic interest became a mission. Dave has concluded that the only chance Jack has of growing up in a Texas populated by educated, proficient, prosperous citizens is to assure that every child has access to a first class education. Dave founded Texas Journal™ in 2004. Texas Journal™ is the Lone Star State's source for communication, coordination and information in our quest to optimize the success of Texas children.
Holding an advanced degree in accounting and information systems, Dave provides a clarity and coherence to an often times contentious debate. As an outsider to the education establishment, he is untainted by the conventional groupthink that prevents our current players from resolving issues in favor of our children. This unique perspective permits Dave to serve as an honest broker while presenting effective solutions to Texas education's most nettlesome problems.
Dave is a strong proponent of families and the strength residing therein. He believes that parents can foster success by providing their children with the resources to make intelligent choices. Dave is proud to serve as the Texas Representative for ParentsAdvocates.org. You're invited to register for Texas Journal™ Updates, and Dave also is available for speaking engagements about education and vouchers.
April Skotnicki is the mother of a 10 year old boy with autism.
April has been very successful as an advocate for her son, since his diagnosis. One of the many challenges she faced was navigating the school system to insure for him his Free and Appropriate Education. Part of the means to achieve her son’s FAPE was enlisting the help of a professor of Childhood Education at a local university. With her knowledge and support of friends, family and the school district, the rough road was paved for success. She has learned that not all parents know the rights of their children under the IDEA, and that not all school districts are compliant in providing services that meet the requirements under IDEA. Her goal is to inform parents how to fight for their childrens rights and to encourage them in that endeavor. She believes acquiring information and networking with other parents is vital to retaining optimal services. Through parentadvocates.org she is hoping to reach families that need this type of support and help set their children on a path to success. All children have abilities despite their disabilities, so it is the responsibility of the educational system to insure the child has opportunities provided him/her to aid them in reaching their full potential. Sadly, many children with special needs are pushed through the school system, and parents need to be vigilant to avoid this happening to their child. April lives in Smithville, Texas, (35 miles from Austin) and can be reached at: email@example.com
Henry Katz is a parent of two NYC school children, who works and resides in NYC. As a zeroth generation American, he now well understands the nightmare his parents suffered as a result of the central planners in an Eastern European regime for twenty years before realizing their escape to freedom in the West. Growing up, he studied many technical disciplines that were well outside the scope of what he was officially learning culminating in his matriculation at a small Ivy league school. With this background he made an earnest attempt to launch a career as a physician but his technical skills bested his humanitarian skills and he switched tracks to a software professional reestablishing these credentials by matriculating at the Courant Institute in NYC. As a technical specialist during the booming economy of the 1990's he found time to study an increasing number of non-technical disciplines that were well outside the scope of what he was officially working. This led him to gain glimpses into the true nature of the power hierarchy and its affect on the key component of what factors are necessary to succeed, the most important one being education. As his stake in his children's education became more pressing and more personal he noted many bizarre developments in the educational system that prompted him to review their historical antecedents. This is the point at which he has arrived, cognizant of the present day failures of the education monopoly and struggling to understand how to right the system and survive it in the meanwhile.
Christy is a photographer and we have her picture "feet" on our homepage.
Christy Karpinski was born and raised in Arizona. She received her B.A. in Women's Studies from the University of Arizona in 1997. In her academic studies she focused on issues of identity and of how we makes sense of ourselves and others in the world. Many of these ideas have carried over into her photographic work. Christy's photography is an exploration of identity and place. It is a search for meaning in the world and in our individual selves. It is a search for what defines us and what keeps us rooted in life. Much of Christy's work over the last ten years has focused on a documentary style approach to making portraits of children. Christy currently has work featured in Story Quarterly and the polish photography magazine FOTO POZYTYW. Her work was recently in Shots Magazine and the first issue of Feline Magazine and she was included in Photographer's Forum's Best of Photography 2002 Annual. She is currently an MFA student at Columbia College in Chicago.
A world renowned businessman, journalist and diplomat, Sam supports the mission and goals of the E-Accountability Foundation. He has dedicated his life to others less fortunate than he, and made his fortune providing US and European companies with risk management services. He is appalled at the segregation and retaliation he sees in the New York City public school system and looks forward to establishing accountability among legislators, budgetary transparency, and an excellent academic program for all children. He asks to remain anonymous so that he can continue to listen to, and speak freely with, the members of the politico-educational complex with whom he interacts.
Parents, Teachers (Ex- and Retired), Administrators and Politicians
Jannie, Karen, Darlene, Carol, Eugenie, Ronnie, Lisa, Patrick, John, Elie, Amy, and all the others who have called/emailed/faxed us material on what is happening to children in New York City public schools, and what the politicians and Department of Education officials are/are not doing to help them achieve. We appreciate your speaking up, and hope that you all will remain true to your goal: an excellent, fair, safe and challenging public school education.