It's teacher hunting season!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

UFT and parents walk-out of sham PEP meeting


After calling the city's bluff (???) and assuming that this will get the city to play nice,
the United Federation of Teachers tonight at 7:15 PM walked out of the Panel for Education Policy meeting for voting on the proposed closure of some two dozen schools in the auditorium of Brooklyn Technical High School, one of the city's top selective public high schools.

At 7:00 PM UFT President Michael Mulgrew called the panel for what it is: a sham of a democracy. He noted that the city Department of Education sets up schools for failure. He made reference to a recently publicized internal DOE report (ironically, in "The New York Post") that the DOE starves schools for resources and sets them up for failure (clusters them with weaker students).
His speech was followed up by a parent that echoed his comments. Then, at 7:15 PM, parents in the front of the hall entered the aisles to leave, and union leaders, seated in the back of the hall, joined the crowd.

The Gotham Schools blog inaccurately reported that one-quarter of the crowd in the Brooklyn Tech auditorium left. The proportion was more like at least one-half. The reporting blogger cynically referred to the crowd walking out as "the Gompers crowd." In truth, parents and students were heavily represented in the crowd walking out of the meeting.

Parents and elected representatives, such as City Councilor Charles Barron, in a stirring speech, earlier in the night noted that the schools targeted for closure are saddled with special education and English Language Learner (English as a Second Language) students. The union has had to pursue a public campaign in recent years to get the city to properly staff schools with special education and resource room teachers, so as to meet the Individual Education Program needs of special education students.

The closings and co-locating of competing schools in buildings with existing schools will lead to the displacement of veteran teachers. Every experienced teacher is in great danger of becoming next year's ATR (absent teacher reserve) teacher. This suits the perennially budget minded mayor exquisitely. Expensive veteran teachers will be replaced by cheaper, novice, untenured and timid teachers.

Others chided embattled schools chancellor Cathie Black's contempuous talking back to parents, Tuesday, February 1, 2011, evening.
(She said, "I can't speak if you're shouting." Members of the crowd said, "Ohhhh." Black mocked back, "Ohhhh." Click to this NY1 clip, "Chancellor Black Criticized For Talking Back To Crowd During PEP meeting."
(NY1 was the only commercial outlet with cameras rolling during Black's jeering retort to upset parents.)

This walk-out, we hope, will foreshadow, a new, stronger turn for the teachers' union and parents, in a bid to challenge the fait accompli plan of closure that the city has for a quota of the lowest performing schools. As Mulgrew and others speak said Tuesday and Thursday, the panel is mostly hand-picked by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and is seen as a rubber stamp for the mayor's wishes.
Parents, students, teachers and elected officials walked out because speakers can speak, but the decision is always pre-determined. Whatever the people say, the panel members will only vote according to the pre-ordained program for X number of schools each year.

As speakers cited the stirrings for democracy in Egypt, we hope that this evening's stirrings and walkout will lead to the replacement of the autocratic rubber stamp PEP with a democratic board of education.

NY1 stuck around after the walkout. The reporter, Lindsey Christ, reporting live at 9:00 PM, said that only 200 to 300 audience members remained and that they were mainly charter school supporters. In contrast to Gotham Schools, Christ said that the majority of the attendees walked out.

No comments:

Post a Comment