August 16, 2010
A group of parents angered by the massive drop in city test scores stormed a Panel for Educational Policy meeting, bringing it to a halt.
As soon as the Monday evening meeting at Murry Bergtraum High School began, members of the Coalition for Educational Justice — a organization of parents and activists who largely oppose Mayor Bloomberg’s education policies — demanded to speak. Told they would have to wait until the public comment period at the end of the meeting, parents being yelling, drowning out panel members who left their seats and retreated backstage.
“You dumbed down the tests and the fact is, our kids are not being prepared for college and the world of work,” Ocynthia Williams, one of the coalition’s parent leaders, said into a bull horn.
The protest reached its peak when a child climbed onto the stage and was escorted off by a security guard, angering an already-emotional crowd. While parents yelled at the guard, the child burst into tears.
An hour after the meeting officially began, panel members called it off. By then the protestors had begun marching around the auditorium’s perimeter and calling for the panel members to reappear.
City officials blamed the coalition for disrupting the meeting.
“Their shouting and screaming proved too disruptive for the panel to continue meeting, and rather than be heard, these individuals sabotaged their chance to speak and derailed important public business,” said Department of Education spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz in an emailed statement.