Spruce Street School Rally on Thursday, March 12th at 8am
Our public schools are under attack. We ask that you join with us in a citywide event on Thursday, March 12, either before or after school, and ask fellow parents, students, teachers and other school staff, to form a ring around your Spruce Street School to symbolically protect your school.
Why is this important?
Governor Cuomo has threatened to hold any increase in state aid hostage to an arsenal of damaging education proposals, which could severely threaten the quality and autonomy of NYC public schools. Though he still owes NYC schools over $2 billion from the Campaign for Fiscal Equity decision, and statewide he owes over $5 billion, he says he won’t increase funding unless the Legislature approves tuition tax credits to private schools, similar to vouchers, and raising the cap on charter schools by one hundred and eliminating any regional restrictions, which could mean up to 250 more charter schools targeted to NYC, with each one guaranteed free facilities at the city expense. These proposals would divert essential funds and space from our public schools. At the same time, he has also proposed that struggling schools be taken over by the state and/or turned over to private hands.
In addition, the Governor is insisting on a statewide teacher evaluation system that takes nearly all authority out of district and principal hands, by basing 50% of a teacher’s ratings on student test scores on the highly fallible state exams, with only 15% based on the principal’s assessment, and the other 35% on independent evaluators, pre-selected by the state but paid for by the district. Teachers who receive one ineffective rating in five years– based solely on the unreliable value-added student test scores –could not be granted tenure, no matter what the principal or the Superintendent wanted, and any teacher rated ineffective two years in a row could lose their jobs.
These proposals represent an unprecedented attempt to centralize power over our public schools, and one that could severely damage them. The Governor’s attempt to double down on high stakes testing is the opposite to what is happening elsewhere in the country, as many states are moving away from test-based teacher evaluation systems. It also contradicts his campaign ads when he acknowledged that “Common Core scores” should not be used “for at least five years”.
Many charter schools are hiring buses, closing for the day, and sending all their staff, students and parents to Albany to lobby for more funding and to raise the charter cap. It would be illegal for public schools to do this, and in any case, we would never recommend subtracting important time from student learning. Instead, we ask you to join with us and reach out to your school communities to protect your school – either before school or after the school day is over.