Thursday, April 14, 2016

#savecpe1 - Support Legendary Debbie Meier Founded Central Park East 1 in Battle to Remove Monika Garg, Abusive Principal


Sign the petition to save CPE1: http://www.savecpe1.org/petition/

I'm leaving soon to drive down to Raleigh, NC for the NPE conference over the weekend. But I wanted to get this out before I leave. I'm hoping to run into Debbie Meier at the conference since CPE was her brainchild so many years ago. I heard about that school when it opened and even thought about trying to teach there because the educational concepts fit my ideas and I was often like a fish out of water at my school.

I heard the entire story about the crap this principal, Monika Garg, has pulled and will report more details in a follow-up. Needless to say she is following the standard Principal Academy and DOE legal blueprint on how to undermine a school with veteran teachers.
The problem is that our union has no blueprint for teachers on how to respond and the teachers were overwhelmed by the constant assaults for half a year before they began to look at ways to fight back. MORE was contacted for advice and we met with some of them.

Why would so-called progressive educator Carmen Farina sanction an assault on Central Park East 1 (there is also a CPE2 under separate management) through the installation of abusive principal  Monika Garg last July who immediately set about undermining 40 years of progressive education at the school? Naturally the long-time teachers there were the first to come under attack, including bogus investigations. The UFT, district borough and central have been of little help.

Which is why some of us in MORE met with a batch of people from the school and have been offering some organizing advice over the past few weeks. We are helping publicize what they are doing. The important thing in situations like this is to assess the abilities of the people on the ground to build support from parents and community when calling for such a drastic action as the removal of Principal Monika Garg who was an AP at a high school with no experience in a progressive school like CPE1 or even in an elementary school.

As the links to the article in DNAinfo and the web site below indicate they have done quite a job in organizing. I'm not sure of exactly how much I can say at this point as to the plans but I will update as they unfold.


New Principal Ruining Legendary Progressive Public School, Parents Say

https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160413/east-harlem/new-principal-ruining-legendary-progressive-public-school-parents-say

The web site with the full story:
http://www.savecpe1.org/

The petition which has almost 2000 signatures - which will be presented to Farina.
http://www.savecpe1.org/petition/


For 40 years, CPE1 has been a leader in progressive education. It was the first of the original progressive public elementary schools started in East Harlem by Debbie Meier. It has been studied and celebrated internationally and replicated across the country, but the current administration is undermining CPE1’s philosophy and purpose. CPE1 must be protected.

What will we lose if the current principal remains? 

  • Our experienced teachers - the heart of our school
  • Inquiry-based, child-centered education is being replaced with prepackaged curriculum
  • Collaborative approach and cooperative projects  
  • Individualized learning accounting for each child’s personal goals
  • The understanding that art, movement and music are integral to children’s education  
  • Valuable learning time lost to increased focus on “teaching to the test”
  • Democratic decision-making 
  • Small class sizes and small school community

The newly hired principal has no previous experience in progressive education. None. 

Why would a superintendent choose a principal with no progressive background and with limited elementary experience to lead NYC’s oldest progressive public school? 

Our veteran teachers have said that their working conditions are unbearable.  Many are considering leaving.   

Our long-time teachers are crucial to preserving CPE1.  

Administrators are interviewing our children without parents' knowledge or consent.

7-year-olds being asked to recall information on incidents occurring two years prior.  This was not the usual "calling a child into the principal's office;" interviewers included a deputy superintendent and an outside investigator.   Children were told to keep their interviews secret.

Administrators have launched investigations against our veteran teachers.

After senior teachers sent an open letter to the community expressing concerns about the principal’s actions, they have all been subjected to investigations.  Some are complaints re-opened from several years prior.  

Administrators routinely fail to answer parents' and teachers' questions. 

Parents asked the superintendent to a town hall in November to express their concerns. She said no. The principal remains silent about direct questions concerning her decisions.

An unprecedented number of leaders in progressive education stand ready with our community to recommend qualified individuals to the DOE and to support the success of a new principal. 


Please join us in saving our school and preserving progressive education at CPE1.


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