Canarsie is a Lenape Indian word meaning “fenced land” or “fort.” On Friday night the Department of Education officials at PS 114 must have felt under siege.
Canarsie is a neighborhood of private homes and the home to immigrants and children of immigrants from the Caribbean, part of the ethnic mosaic that is Brooklyn and New York City.
Want to start an argument? Good Hope has the best oxtails!! In the lilting patois of Jamaica, or Trinidad, or Antigua the opinions will spew forth.
Schools are part of communities and principals should be knowledgeable and sensitive to the needs of parents and the community.
Tweed appointed a Leadership Academy graduate with no sensitivity to the community, or to parents or teachers. It was immediately evident that she was a disaster. Parents complained, teachers complained, to no avail. As long as the Progress Report grade was a “B” all was well. Middle management Department types agreed, the principal was a disaster, and shrugged, there was nothing they could do.
After an investigation and a scathing report the principal was transferred to a school in the Bronx as an Assistant Principal. By the beginning of March the school will have had four principals in three years, and, incredibly, the school is being forced to “pay back” $180,000 in deficit incurred by the Leadership disaster.
(See three part NY 1 series:
PS 114 should not be on the closing list, rather it deserves an apology.
At the mandated pre-closing public meeting 35 speakers, Councilman Barron and Fidler, Assemblyman Maisel and Perry and a representative of State Senator Sampson all pledged to work with the Department to make 114 a success. Their argument: “Give the school two years, with specific goals and timetables.” Parent and teachers and students all defended their school and pointed to the absent villain, the Tweed appointed principal.
Shael Suransky, the # 2 at the Department assured the audience that no decision had been made, the Department would carefully review all the input before the Thursday, February 3rd Central Board (PEP) meeting.
(See NY1 coverage here.)
The Mayor and the Department can reconsider, after listening to communities, reviewing data, it can decide not to close 114 and perhaps a few other schools.
Symbolism is extremely important. Keeping 114 open is an opportunity for Chancellor Black and her administration to reach out to parents and communities and teachers.
“We are willing to listen, to engage, to respond, to revise, to correct, to collaborate.”
Or, underline that the pre-closing hearing process is an illusion, a trompe d’oeil.
Cathie Black’s interview with Errol Louis, NY1 anchor, was less than prime time. She is currently perceived as Joel Klein with a kinder face, repeating the Klein mantra. (see Gotham Schools here and NY1 here ). The headline will either be: the wars continue, the Mayor/Tweed/Black versus teachers, parents and communities, or, we are willing to listen, and respond.
February 15/16 is the Weingarten/Duncan sponsored Teacher Union/Management Collaboration Summit in Denver.
“Union leaders and administrators across the country are finding new ways to work together to focus on student success,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “The leaders from these 150 districts are committed to bold reforms and are showing the country what is possible when adults come together, particularly in tough times, to do the right thing for kids.”
Los Angeles and Chicago never applied. NYC is on the attending list.
Is there collaboration in NYC? or, does the “permanent revolution” continue?
If the Thursday PEP meeting rubber stamps the proposed list of 25 school closing the message will be that the Mayor/Chancellor seeks capitulation not collaboration.