The NY Board of Ed, Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) – (Cruelty)

Cathleen P. Black, who took over as New York City schools chancellor in January, at the Tuesday meeting of the Panel on Educational Policy.

Robert Stolarik for The New York Times

The Board of Ed, Panel for Educational Policy met in public session to close ten schools and small charter schools in their place. My wife as well as around 2000 other citizens attended. 300 spoke.

Whatever thought went behind the panel’s actions, they were not at this public session to engage the public.

As the New York Times put it:

The panel, which has the final word on school closings, was set up as a check on mayoral authority, but in practical terms, it has been mostly a rubber-stamping body for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s and the chancellor’s plans.

My wife was upset by the Panel’s refusal to acknowledge collateral damage to other schools with student bodies residing in the same communities and often the same buildings. She became angry at the Panel’s indifference to the students currently enrolled in failing schools…

… someone asked the DOE representative what happened to the children who were stuck attended the failing comprehensive high schools that were being phased out in the Bronx and Queens. The bureaucrat said that New York City has a choice process for High School enrollment and those student had chosen that school, implying that any gaps in their education were their own fault because through their own free will they chose to attend a failing school…

In his radio address, Bloomberg characterized critics at these meetings as misinformed:

Mr. Bloomberg said his critics fundamentally misunderstood the purpose of closing low-performing schools, a centerpiece of his efforts to shake up the school system. He said many parents did not realize that the schools would not simply be shuttered, but transformed into smaller schools.

This has nothing to do with the comments my wife describes coming from the parent community of PS9.

parents asked for the decisions about their school be tabled until they could put together a proposal to make their school a zoned K-8 school for the growing neighborhood full of young families as option to be considered in lieu of closing “failing” MS 571 and inserting the philosophically opposite Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter Middle School to which lottery winners come from all around Brooklyn.

My wife describes the panel’s paradoxical response telling parents they should have proposed alternatives to the Board of Education’s plan the year before the plan was announced so it could have been evaluated as part of the plan.

Bloomberg described the loud protests during the meeting as “embarrassing for New York City, for New York State, for America.” (NYTimes)

Yes, the attendees used tactics of civil disobedience. Yes, they were disruptive. Yes, they were angry. They were protesting a failed check and balance with great consequence to their lives. Civil disobedience short of any illegality and devoid of any violence strikes me as a moderate response.

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About Ken Judy

I am an executive manager, software developer, father and husband trying to do more good than harm. I am an agile practitioner. I say this fully aware I say nothing. Sold as a tool to solve problems, agile is more a set of principles that encourage us to confront problems. Broad adoption of the jargon has not resulted in wide embrace of these principles. I strive to create material and human good by respecting co-workers, telling truth to employers, improving my skills, and caring for the people affected by the software I help build.