Posts tagged "protest"
June 12, 2012
With the 24 turnaround schools deep into the hiring process, a small handful of teachers gathered in front of Tweed this afternoon to show their opposition despite the rain.
Protesters from John Dewey High School Lehman High School grimly described their uncertain futures. But they did not renew any pleas to Department of Education officials to stop the turnaround. They were joined by several teachers from Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, which the city placed on its original list of turnaround schools but later removed.
Marian Swerdlow, the FDR union chapter leader-elect, said she and several colleagues turned out this afternoon to show their support and register opposition to all school closures. She stood stone-faced in front of the DOE headquarters in a United Federation of Teachers rain poncho, holding a crumpled sign that read, “the turnaround model is all wet.”
The city cannot make any final hiring decisions at the 24 schools, which are closing this summer and immediately re-opening under the reform model known as ‘turnaround.’ But hiring committees made up of city and teachers union officials, school administrators and parents in each of the schools have been busily conducting back-to-back interviews with teachers hoping to keep their jobs. (more…)
April 3, 2012
When public hearings about the city’s plans to “turn around” two large high schools began last night, few of their supporters had heard that other schools had been spared the aggressive reform process.
Herbert H. Lehman High School and Grover Cleveland High School were not among seven top-rated schools that the city announced yesterday would not undergo turnaround after all. The controversial process requires schools to close and reopen with new names and many new teachers.
A third school slated for a public hearing Monday night, Brooklyn’s School for Global Studies, had its turnaround plans withdrawn. But at Lehman and Cleveland, the hearings went on without interruption — with students, teachers, and graduates at each offering more than three hours of testimony about their schools.
Diana Rodriguez, the senior class president at Cleveland, saw the surprising news about changes to the turnaround list on her phone during a pre-hearing rally organized by students.
“Obviously Cleveland is not on the list. This is very disappointing for us but we will not give up,” she said. “Tonight we will show that we have a voice and will not give in.”
That voice grew strained over the course of the afternoon and evening from loud chants and cheers. Before the closure hearing, Rodriguez led a band of students — including one dressed in a tiger costume — on a march around the neighborhood. As they passed the Q54 bus on Metropolitan Avenue, the driver honked repeatedly at the procession and other cars joined the chorus. More students joined when the group returned to the school’s entrance on Himrod Street, until the rally swelled to nearly 50. (more…)
March 28, 2012
In preparation to protest the closure of Sheepshead Bay High School tonight at a public hearing, students interrogated a cardboard cutout of Mayor Michael Bloomberg on video.
In the video, a student posing as an attorney stages a mock “cross-examination,” of the mayor and his plans, which involve closing and re-opening 33 schools this year under a federal reform model known as “turnaround.” (more…)
March 15, 2012
Teachers union president Michael Mulgrew told teachers to dress for a funeral today.
Teachers who worked at schools that the city has closed or is trying to close gathered at “Mayor Bloomberg’s Cemetery” — actually Foley Square, in Lower Manhattan — to mourn the Bloomberg administration’s school closure policies.
Joined by about 60 union members, the teachers displayed pictures of tombstones etched with the names of schools the city has targeted for closure, including Bread and Roses High School, Legacy High School for Integrated Studies, Manhattan Theater Lab School. (more…)
March 13, 2012
Teachers and students from Brooklyn schools proposed for turnaround brought protest signs and pointed questions to a Monday night meeting with city officials — and left with few concrete answers.
As representatives of most Brooklyn schools proposed for turnaround pled their cases in front of city officials tasked with closing an extra 33 schools this year, members of the overflow audience interrupted with shout-outs, standing ovations, and, at one point, sustained chanting of “Free the 33!”
School communities have argued against the turnaround plans in tandem before, at an event in Queens and a meeting of the citywide high schools parent group. But this is the first time schools have been invited to testify in front of city officials masterminding the changes. Officials also heard for the first time from schools that have been almost completely silent about the reform plans.
Elaine Gorman, the Department of Education official overseeing turnaround, opened the meeting, organized by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, with an overview of the proposals, which would call for each school to replace at least half its staff and to be closed and re-opened with a new name. Then representatives from the 11 Brooklyn turnaround schools were invited to give testimonies about their schools.
John Dewey High School teachers, parents, and students reprised their frequent protests by turning out in full-force; at least 100 of them sat in the audience sporting their cheerleading outfits or T-shirts in the school’s signature red, and lept into standing ovations each time a Dewey student or teacher spoke. And a half-dozen William Maxwell High School teachers, unhappy that their A grade on the city’s annual progress report would not be enough to protect their school from closure, waved poster-sized versions of the report card and the letter A when it was their turn to speak.
They were joined by a slightly more subdued group of parents and teachers from Sheepshead Bay High School, the Cobble Hill School for American Studies, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, and a lone middle school student from the School for Global Studies, who spoke about the school’s co-location with a charter school. (more…)
March 12, 2012
Signing on to a petition wasn’t enough for some principals across the state who oppose the state’s impending teacher evaluation requirements.
The Long Island principals who launched a policy paper and signature drive against the teacher evaluation system last fall are ramping up their resistance with a lobbying effort. Bringing together colleagues from across the region, including from New York City, the principals plan to take out an ad in the Legislative Gazette, a small Albany publication, asking lawmakers to revise the framework that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed for new teacher and principal evaluations.
The framework that Cuomo proposed was set with the support of the state’s main teachers union, NYSUT, but it doesn’t become law until legislators sign off on it when they set the new budget. That must happen by the end of this month, and until then, legislators could conceivably make revisions.
The principals have broad concerns about the educational value of the evaluation requirements, but they are limiting their ask to three main changes. They want lawmakers to shield teachers’ evaluations from being subject to transparency laws; revise the scoring ranges so teachers whose students do not make academic progress are not automatically rated ineffective; and institute a pilot period before the new system goes statewide. (more…)
March 9, 2012
Bolstered by the city’s unflinching plan to close John Dewey High School this June, students from the South Brooklyn campus added a walk-out to their growing resumé of protest actions this afternoon. (more…)
March 8, 2012
Students and teachers at William Grady Career and Technical High School aren’t waiting until next month’s closure hearing to share what they think of the city’s plan to close the school this summer.
Students organized a week of protest last month, and teachers joined them with a rally and candlelight visit outside the school on Wednesday. Evelyn Katz, an English teacher, said teachers began the rally just after school let out at 3:09 p.m. and were joined at 5 p.m. by students who had stayed late for tutoring.
The rally came just hours after the school received a visit from a top state official whose assessment could influence whether State Education Commissioner John King endorses the city’s “turnaround” plan.
Multiple people who work at the school said Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the Board of Regents, spent several hours at Grady Wednesday morning. They said she toured the school’s vocational shops, which include culinary arts and automotive repair. (more…)
February 9, 2012
Boisterous protests against school closures have long been accused of lending a circus-like atmosphere to the annual meetings where the Panel for Educational Policy votes on closures. This year, though, the opposition will actually have three rings.
Three separate groups are planning protest actions during tonight’s PEP meeting, where the citywide school board is set to vote on — and presumably approve — 23 school closures and truncations. (Changes to two schools were taken off the table yesterday.)
City officials have vowed not to let the protests disrupt the panel’s proceedings, suggesting that panel members and protesters alike could be in for a long and potentially combative night. Last year, the panel approved 22 closures in two separate meetings that each lasted well past 1 a.m. In 2010, the panel’s vote on 20 school closures took place just before 4 a.m., after more than 10 hours of protests and public comment.
Tonight, the United Federation of Teachers, which has orchestrated the most substantial protests in the past, is planning to start its protest outside Brooklyn Technical High School but then constitute an alternate event, a “People’s PEP,” at P.S. 20, an elementary school with a 600-seat auditorium six blocks away that the union has rented for the evening. Union officials said teachers from the schools up for closure would be invited to give presentations about their schools at the P.S. 20 meeting.
Another group that has been active in opposing the closure proposals, the Coalition for Educational Justice, is taking a different approach: Instead of walking out from the meeting, CEJ members and those active in affiliated groups, including the Alliance for Quality Education and the Urban Youth Collaborative, are marching in protest to it. After a 5 p.m. rally, they’ll walk five blocks east on Dekalb Street to Brooklyn Tech, where they will continue to protest against the city’s proposed closures.
A press advisory for the CEJ event warns that protesters will use the “people’s mic” to amplify their voices during the panel meeting. And they won’t be alone using that strategy. A third protest set for tonight is by “Occupy the DOE,” which grew out of the Occupy Wall Street movement that popularized the human microphone tactic. (more…)
January 17, 2012
Mayor Bloomberg was greeted with boos as he tried to tie the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. to his own education policies Monday during a speech at the city’s largest celebration for the slain civil rights hero.
A small group of parents and students gathered outside the Brooklyn Academy of Music Opera House in Fort Greene to protest what they said were school policies that King would oppose if he were alive today. Once the 26th annual Brooklyn Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. began inside BAM, the group joined with other activists and continued their protest inside.
The event featured live music and speeches from several elected officials, including Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
The protesters, who also included teachers from the Occupy the DOE group and activists from the Alliance for Quality Education, sat quietly through those speeches, but the jeers began raining down from the balcony levels as soon as Bloomberg was introduced.
Bloomberg didn’t hesitate to address his hecklers.
“For those of you who want to express yourself, there’s a time and a place for everything,” he said. “Just remember that we’re here to honor a man who valued education.” (more…)