New York City

NYC parents, teachers rally against Cuomo’s public school agenda

More than 40 Brooklyn schools participated

March 12, 2015 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Kids joined their parents and teachers at rallies across the city on Thursday to protest what they call Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s attempt to defund and dismantle the public school system. Shown: A student at P.S. 10 in Park Slope holds a sign reading, “Stop it, Cuomo!” Photo courtesy of the United Federation of Teachers
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Parents, students and teachers from roughly a hundred NYC public schools held hands and formed human chains around their schools to “protect them” from what they call Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s attempt to “defund, dismantle and privatize our public schools.”

More than 40 Brooklyn schools participated, a large number of them in District 15 – the high-performing district once headed by NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.

“Hey gov! Who taught you to read?” read a sign waved by a parent at P.S. 160 in Borough Park. “Exams Do Not Equal Mastery of Content” said another, held by a mom at P.S. 20.

Rallies took place before and after school on Thursday, and more are planned for Friday.

“The Brooklyn turnout was unbelievable,” Leonie Haimson, executive director of the advocacy group Class Size Matters, told the Brooklyn Eagle. She singled out District 15 as being “so fantastic!”

“This event was to show the governor that New York City parents love their public schools and want to support them, instead of defunding, dismantling and privatizing them, which appears to be his agenda,” Haimson said.

Cuomo has said that he would link additional education funding to some controversial changes, including raising the charter-school cap and giving student test results more weight in teacher evaluations.

Gov. Cuomo “has cut funding, never paid New York City schools the Campaign for Fiscal Equity [lawsuit] money owed, and, for a small increase in aid, wants to hold them hostage to other proposals that will drain the schools, including $800 million a year to raise the cap on charter schools,” Haimson said.

“We truly believe NYC schools can be accessible to all children when they have the resources and small classes they need to succeed, and it’s up to him to live up to his obligation to fairly fund our schools.”

Parent organizer Karen Sprowal, whose child attends M.S. 421 in Manhattan, told the Eagle that “the disparity between schools is so alarming.”

“One school has arts and science programs, another has no PTA,” she said. “The state has money for marketing reforms, while people don’t have basic things like chalk and paper towels.”

Last week, charter school advocates – accompanied by thousands of students bused in from across the state — held a rally in Albany, pushing for a larger piece of the education pie.

Families for Excellent Schools (FES), a charter lobbying group, is calling for the state to hand over roughly 178 low-performing public schools to charter groups.

On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Farina touted the early success of the city’s own plan to turn around almost 100 low-performing schools via the School Renewal Program.

FES disparaged the city’s efforts, saying in a statement that the plan was destined for failure.


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