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Parents Rising Up for Schools to be Fixed NOT Closed

October 28, 2011

Locked out of Chancellor Walcott's "Parents as Partners" event (Picture from GothamSchools)

It’s like Newton’s Laws of Motion; to every action there is a reaction. If the State and the City starve schools of resources, through endless rounds of budget cuts and them leave them with little support or services, they will struggle. Then, put them on a list of potential closure and parents WILL fight back and fight to improve their school. This past Wednesday, about two dozen parents from schools on this list joined to deliver a letter to Chancellor Walcott demanding to meet with him, during one of his “Parent as Partners” events, however they were locked out of this “invite-only” event and not allowed in (NY1, GothamSchools) What kind of “parent engagement” is this? Also, throughout the last two weeks, there have been hundreds of parents taking action against the DOE’s policies of leaving schools under-resourced and then closing them.

The most recent was at PS 137, where just five years ago the school was forced to move in with PS 134 so that the DOE could give the 137 building to the Shuang Wen Academy that had been co-locating with 134 and 137 since inception.  In exchange, 137 was slated to receive resources for instructional improvement—but it did not.  In fact, four years later, the school has suffered from several rounds of deep budget cuts, which led to lost teachers and the elimination of extracurricular activities. As a result, PS 137’s letter grade has dropped from an “A” to an “F”—and now the City is considering closing the school.  Parents responded with a protest, demanding 137 get the resources it needs for student success.

City Council Member Margaret Chin addressing parents (from GothamSchools)

Parents at the school came together to take action through a rally to defend the school and make the case that more resources and supports are needed, and that school closure should NOT be an option. They were joined by City Council Member Margaret Chin, who expressed strong support for the school and the parents.

Some of the leaders of this event said:

“The biggest factors that have led to our school’s poor performance have been budget cuts and losing five teachers in the middle of the year—which were replaced with poorly trained substitutes,” said Rose Torres, Vice President of the PTA at PS 137.  “Our school deserves the opportunity to grow with training, resources and supports that have previously been denied to us by the DOE.”

Members of the PTA at PS 137, who organized the rally

Our school tests scores are right around the citywide average, so we are not a failing school—the DOE failed us. We need the supports and training our school was promised so we can be a better school, but closing is definitely not the answer,” said Santa Aviles, PTA Secretary of PS 137.

Due to budget cuts our school lost five teachers that specialized in supports for reading and replaced them with five inexperienced substitutes—right around the time that the standards were raised,” said Lisbeth Torres, Treasurer of the PTA at PS 137.  “How can our school perform better with less?”

Here is some coverage:
NYTimes SchoolBook, and NYTimes Schoolbook article #2, NY1, ABC, GothamSchools & DNAinfo

The prior week parents at PS 256 took action too! Click here for the VIDEO, here’s some coverage from there.
WPix, Channel 11, OurTimes, Daily News, Gotham Schools & NYTimes Schoolbook

We know that parents across the city are organizing to save their schools and are likely to be taking more action in the coming weeks.

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