And if you weren't at St. Vartan's Cathedral Wednesday night then you missed seeing 1,500 parents, teachers and students gather with elected officials to voice their growing frustration with the recently announced reorganization of New York City's schools and a lack of voice in how decisions in the schools are made.
Over the course of the night we heard from a lot of great speakers. While there were to many for me to quote them all, here are a few that stuck in my head. United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten talked about the need to engage the community:
"I hope that tonight we will help the Department of Education learn that both the creation of good policy and the execution of it are achieved by engaging people who have a stake in the outcome. The people gathered here tonight care deeply about our schools. We can help make our schools better and stronger if we are given the chance."Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council Chair Tim Johnson explained the high turnout:
"Parents have turned out in record numbers tonight because parent organizations have been systematically disenfranchised and treated with contempt by this administration. Parents need to be welcomed and respected throughout the school-system bureaucracy."Though it came as no surprise, one person who didn't come was Mayor Bloomberg. From Working Families Party Co-Chair Bertha Lewis:
"Once again, they got the whole thing backward . . . If they were serious about engagement, they would have come here tonight, listened to what these people had to say, and engaged them in the process of developing a plan to make things better."New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. laid out the challenge going forward:
"We owe it to the people gathered here tonight to hear their concerns and do our best to make sure the Department of Education hears them. We know that schools don’t work unless parents, teachers and students are all involved, engaged and committed. We need to get this right."The topics that people wanted to talk about included:
- lack of engagement with parents, students and teachers
- excessive focus on restructuring and lack of focus on instruction
- restoring the balance between teaching and testing
- the need for smaller, safer classes
- making sure the Campaign for Fiscal Equity funds are spent on programs to improve academic achievement.
Technorati tags: Working Families Party | Education