It's time for the public's voice to be heard again in our public schools. The Working Families Party is among the groups organizing a rally tonight at 6:30pm, at St. Vartan's Cathedral on 2nd Ave, where parents, teachers and students will tell Chancellor Klein to stop the proposed school reorganization and listen to the community.
At issue is the latest New York City Department of Education proposal to reorganize our schools, which was put out without consulting the public or accepting public input. That's three major reorganizations in five years, and the public has NEVER been consulted about ANY of these reorganizations, even though each reorganization is chaotic and destabilizing for parents and teachers and for our kids. This from a Chancellor who repeatedly claims to want to bring stability to the system.
Instead, the Department of Education only listens to its consultants. That's taken us to a point where they can't even get our children TO school, much less do the right thing once they are there.
The school bus debacle is a perfect example of what has gone wrong. The Department of Education was warned - repeatedly warned - about potential problems with cutting bus service. They ignored the warnings and did it anyway, and the rollout was a disaster. We need to make sure this stops happening.
But the school bus debacle is also a powerful example of what can happen when parents, teachers and students stand together and demand change.
The Department of Education doesn't like to admit when it's wrong, but there's a growing outcry among parents, teachers and kids that things aren't right with the way our school system is being operated.
This lack of basic respect for parents and kids has sunk relations between parents and the school system to their lowest level in many years.
That's not healthy for our kids, our teachers or our schools.
It's time for the Department of Education to let the public in and start listening to us.
We need to see a real change in the culture of the Department of Education. Parents have been complaining about a lack of voice for years, and those complaints have only grown louder with each passing year and each new reorganization. We need to see parent's concerns reflected in the Department of Education's plans.
Teachers and parents have repeatedly called for reducing class size, for school safety programs, for universal pre-kindergarten, for transforming our middle schools and for building effective pathways to college.
Our kids need stability and quality instruction, not more structural change. But the Chancelor's reorganization plan doesn't include any focus on what actually happens in the classroom. Whatever happened to instruction?
Let's see a real "Marshall Plan" to turn around low-performing middle schools.
Let's see a humane balance between teaching and testing.
Let's put the public back in public education
Earlier today Mayor Bloomberg responded to tonight's rally by announcing a new initiative (the appointment of a new parental engagement staffer, I believe) intended to give parents a say in the process. I don't have any more details because the announcement was made without any public involvement.
On behalf of Working Families Party Co-Chair Bertha Lewis, here is an open invitation to Mayor Bloomberg to start a real dialogue:
"Better late than never. While we applaud the Mayor for realizing - mere hours before a major community meeting on the schools - that something is deeply wrong with the relationship between the Department of Education and parents, it unfortunately is another example of what the system's stakeholders are angry about, which is lack of consultation before new initiatives are announced.
We would encourage the Mayor and the Chancellor to start a real engagement process tonight by coming to St. Vartan's Cathedral at 6:30 and listening to the concerns of parents, teachers, children and others who care deeply about our city's schools."
Will Bloomberg accept? Join us tonight and find out - 6:30pm at St. Vartan's Cathedral on 2nd Ave between 34th and 35th Streets (take the 6 train to 33rd St).