|Photo Anna Phillips, Gotham Schools, -see goofy guy with camera|
There was no Panel for Education for Educational Policy meeting at Murray Bergtraum HS last night. Or at least barely a glimmer of one before parents organized by the Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ) shut the meeting down. The meeting will be rescheduled, undoubtedly with a lot more security.
The meeting began with a Power Point report using Tweed fuzzy math to try to discount the awful publicity BloomKlein have been receiving over the results of the recent tests showed that the nationwide accolades tossed at the NYCDOE by ed deformers has been more than a little over done. I like to call it the, "At least we're better than Rochester" defense.
When Manhattan PEP member Patrick Sullivan, who has been the strongest voice in opposition to the BloomKlein policies, said after the presentation, "Frankly, what I heard was an attempt to protect the reputations of the people responsible," the audience erupted into wild cheers.
"I could say a lot more, but what's important to me is to hear from the public what their concerns are for one of the worst debacles in the history of the public school system." Sullivan then called for a motion to allow the public to speak on the issue immediately rather than have to wait until the general public comment time at the end of the meeting when many people are already leaving. Bronx PEP member Anna Santos seconded the motion.
It was ruled out of order.
I put up a video of Patrick's comments and the immediate reaction.
The audience than rose with shouts of "Let us speak" and then proceeded to shout out further attempts to continue the meeting. Members of the PEP then walked off the stage to huddle behind the curtain like failed wizards trying to decide what to do next.
Meanwhile, parents used a small bullhorn to hold their own version of the meeting as one parent after another came up to speak.
Some members of the PEP skulked back out to try to reason with an audience that was beyond reason. Actually, it was more of a scolding. They were having none of it and continued shouting. At one point a child went up on the stage to try to use a microphone and she was practically pushed off the stage by burly security guards. That inflamed the crowd even more.
You will see TV and press reports, but they are a bit incomplete.
We have lots of video and GEM and Ed Notes and CAPE are working to put together a comprehensive video like we did the other day. We'll get as many parent statements up during the rump meeting they held as we can by tomorrow.
See Patrick's report at the NYC Parent blog:
Last night's Panel for Educational Policy meeting was another unfortunate example of how the mayoral appointees on the Panel repeatedly show disregard for both the law and the public school community they are supposed to serve.
The public agenda issued prior to the meeting contained no indication that the Panel would consider the enormous controversy surrounding the state testing debacle, yet a fifteen minute session was added for a DOE staffer to present a defense of the administration's record in student achievement.
Read it in full:
PEP Chairman Chang Blocks Vote on Public Comment, Violates Bylaws
News coverage in the Times here and News here.
For the front-page story that likely led to the preparation of the DOE's defensive presentation on testing results, see the Times: Triumph Fades on Racial Gap in City Schools.
CEJ, connected to the Annenberg Institute, has been organizing parents, often in alliance with the UFT. There was zero UFT presence at last night's meeting, perhaps indicating a greater degree of independence from the UFT on the part of CEJ.
I hark back to the famous St. Vartas church events - Feb. 28, 2007 - where a major coalition seemed poised to challenge BloomKlein with a massive May 1 demo, but were accused of selling out after the follow-up agreement between CEJ, the UFT and the Mayor and Joel Klein in April, 2007.
Here is a selection of some of our posts at the time.
Say It Ain't So Martine
Deal Announced on Reorganization: Did BloomKlein Blink?
A unique opportunity has been missed
GEM/ICE in the house
Gee, there was no presence at all by the UFT or their bought off opposition, New Action. But there were at least 6 GEM/ICEers in the house covering the event and supporting the parents. You remember ICE - that group that does nothing but complain according to the New Action/Unity slugs. 'Nuff said.
Here is ICE/GEM Michael Fiorillo in a comment he left at the Gotham Schools post.
After years of willful ignorance, the state ed department, Regents and editorial boards were forced to dance around the fact that the test scores were bogus, and manipulated for the political benefit of the mayor and his agenda. Then, their deception and self-deception revealed, everyone pivots and comes up with their "now we have to see how to spin this so it can somehow be turned to our advantage" bit.
Presto! We are now told that, even though the tests and scores were invalid, we're making progress anyway (how so, if your vaunted "metrics" are worthless? Oh, and sorry, but we're closing your schools anyway), "although we have a lot further to go," and we're going to whip those kids and teachers into shape so they can meet the New and Improved curriculums (McGraw-Hill thanks you!) coming down the pike.
And somehow we are to believe that the New and Improved testing regime will not be used as a club against teachers, and will not be gamed for the political advantage of the ed deformers.
Ignored and treated with contempt by the Mayor, Chancellor and their lapdogs on the PEP, ignored and treated with contempt by the Mayor's media echo chamber, parents decided to assert themselves last night in an effort to change the terms of debate and show their outrage over the lies they are told and the dispossession they face.
Condescended to and shut out from having input into decisions that affect their children's lives, having resources stripped away in favor of private charter schools, perhaps the parents' "disruption" of a sham, perfunctory, propagandistic hearing was a greater example of democracy than being docile participants in their own disenfranchisement.