Saturday, May 6, 2017

CPE1 Update: Half the Students Stay Out of School Today

I'm still in the city but wanted to get this out before heading back to Rockaway to process some of the tape I got at the rally/press conference this morning outside CPE1 where over 50 parents and supporters rallied in an often driving rain. No one from the UFT was present - I will address the UFT tepid response in another post and it is addressed in the upcoming MORE DA newsletter coming out May 10.

Ninety students, about half, were kept out of school and housed at a local community center where they had day care take care of them while the parents were at the rally.

There was press present - WNBC, WINS, NY1 - the wonderful Lindsey Christ still covering ed for so many years - first time I'd run into her in years. She and her camerawoman did interviews and I am looking forward to seeing how she deals with the story. In giving Lindsey some background info it was clear that she knows the history of CPE1 and all about Debbie Meier -- the benefit of hiring former teachers like Lindsey to cover education. The press feels they have to give both sides of a story even if one side is distorted so I imagine conventions will be followed with the DOE side - which is pretty funny-- like there is another group of parents who like Garg -- yes-- a tiny group but in DOE reports they make it sound equal.

Matt, one of the parents standing in the rain, called into Brian Lehrer to talk to de Blasio -- who gave a bullshit response but Matt wasn't allowed to counter -- listen - Matt is 2nd caller - ---

I love Brian Lehrer but not when it comes to covering ed deform -- very unbalanced.

I have so many blogs to write on ed deform, the Democrats, the left, social justice unionism, etc. but the CPE1 story has so many complexities that I haven't even touched on yet, I can't shake it.

Here's a section of the press release this morning:

CPE 1 Parents Strike, Demanding Mayor de Blasio Remove School’s Principal
Eighty Students Stay Home Friday as Protest Against Monika Garg Escalates
EAST HARLEM—Central Park East 1 parents waged a strike Friday, keeping 80 children home from school in an emphatic call on Mayor Bill de Blasio to immediately remove Principal Monika Garg.

Chanting, “Hey, Hey de Blasio, Monika Garg Has Got to Go!” and carrying signs that read, “Ban Garg, Not Parents,” scores of parents walked a picket line Friday morning, demanding Mayor de Blasio remove an embattled principal whose draconian and ineffective leadership has threatened the future of the city’s oldest progressive elementary school.

The strike by nearly half of the school’s students comes as Garg has banned two parents of special needs’ kids from dropping their children off at CPE 1 and attending parent meetings—retaliation for their leading roles in an overnight occupation of the school last month and the latest move by the principal to squelch opposition to her ineffective leadership.

“Pulling our kids out of school is not something we take lightly,” said Alicia Hurtado, mother of a first grader. “But we have attended meetings, signed petitions and even occupied the school overnight and the city has yet to act. Mayor de Blasio should take it as a sign of our determination to see Monika Garg removed. And he should know that we will not stop speaking out until our children and their teachers have a new principal that respects everyone in the CPE 1 community.”  

Since her appointment in 2015, which came via a questionable process, first-time Principal Garg has deliberately fomented division, mistrust and turmoil at the iconic public progressive elementary school. With the support of District 4 Superintendent Alexandra Estrella, Garg has harassed teachers and retaliated against them, mistreated students and families, and undermined the school’s successful practices.

“The United Federation of Teachers calls upon the Department of Education to resolve the untenable situation at CPE 1,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the UFT. “This is a school where the administration is unfairly disciplining teachers, barring parents from entering the school building, and enabling turmoil to fester. This is not a recipe for success.”

Friday’s strike marks an escalation in a year-plus campaign for accountability at CPE 1. Last year, 70 percent of CPE 1 families signed an online petition demanding the removal of the principal. A statement  of “no confidence” in Principal Garg, signed by an overwhelming majority of families, was presented by the Parents Association Co-Chair at a School Leadership Team meeting immediately preceding last month’s sit-in.

Parents have appealed to the DOE for more than a year—including appearances at 15 consecutive PEP meetings—about significant concerns with Principal’s Garg’s leadership, but have not had their needs adequately addressed. Garg is statistically the WORST principal in NYC: she has received the lowest ratings from parents and teachers on the 2016 DOE school survey of any principal in the city and oversaw the city’s largest drop in test scores after her traumatic first year at the helm (2016). New York City has approximately 1,800 public schools.

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