PHOTOS: SAKURA KELLEY
Outraged parents from the Coalition for Educational Justice shut down Monday evening’s school board meeting after officials refused to let them comment on recent revelations that student test scores had dropped dramatically in 2010. About 75 parents and a handful of teachers from the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) attended the Panel for Education Policy (PEP) meeting held at Murray Bergtraum High School in Lower Manhattan. They listened patiently to Education Department Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky give an extensive power point presentation explaining how the declining test scores — a 27 percent drop in proficiency in English for the city’s third to eighth graders, a 28 percent drop in proficiency in math for the same students and a growing racial achievement gap — were not a cause for alarm but a sign of progress.
When Polakow-Suransky finished, the parents insisted on the chance to comment on the test score controversy and the impact it has had on children who are no longer deemed proficient. Told to wait until the end of the meeting, the parents began shouting and chanting. Panel for Education Policy members slipped behind the stage curtain in hopes of waiting out the protests. Parents and their supporters then came to the front of the school auditorium to share stories of frustration with how the city’s schools are being run. Unable to re-assert his authority, PEP Chair David Chang finally adjourned the meeting. The parents left a little while later vowing to return in larger numbers for the September PEP meeting.