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De Blasio Cha-Cha Slides in Flatbush to Promote ‘Summer Rising’ Amid Teacher’s Union Concerns

Zion DeCoteau Jul 8

Mayor de Blasio and school children doing the “hands on your knees” Cha-Cha slide dance move.

On July 6, Mayor Bill de Blasio saw how low he and a group of elementary school kids could go to Mr. C’s 2000 hit, “The Slide Man.” The act was done in part to promote New York City’s “Summer Rising” summer school program at P.S. 6 in Flatbush Brooklyn, one of 800 sites across the city that will host the program.

“We’ve got a lot of kids who did not attend in-person instruction during the school year. This is the first time they’re getting back together with their friends and their teachers,” de Blasio said at the event. 

The outgoing mayor and NYC Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter, joined by P.S. 6’s Principal Sharon Porter, greeted children as they entered the building. 

Summer rising is billed as a “bridge” program to reacquaint students with the classroom after a year of online and hybrid learning — essentially a summer school-summer camp hybrid.  

“My son has been home for a year, so this is his first time stepping foot into a building. This is overwhelming since he hasn’t been here,” said Rita Joseph (D), victorious candidate for city council district 40, which encompasses P.S. 6. 

The program is free and available to all K-12 students who register. According to the mayor, over 200,000 children have already registered. 

Kaitlyn and Andrea Ned .

“I don’t have to pay anything. It’s totally free. [My daughter is] also learning half of the day and the other half of the day they’re doing activities,” said Andrea Ned, a Flatbush resident. She accompanied her second-grader into P.S. 6. “She’s not gonna be overwhelmed with academics and she’ll still have time to play and be a child.”

In addition to the academic and recreational periods, the program will incorporate systems of emotional support. “Students will engage in daily community building and social emotional learning activities … Summer Rising will address academic and social emotional needs of our youth through tailored support,” says the program’s webpage

“I used to be a teacher myself,” said City Councilperson Mathieu Eugene (D-40). “When we teach the children directly, we can see their behavior. We can feel the needs of the children,” he remarked in favor of in-person learning.

Not all feedback was positive, however. Many parents complained their children were still on long waitlists to enroll at their local site, leading de Blasio to direct schools to increase their capacities. That prompted staffing concerns for the program, especially from teacher’s unions. The principals union, CSA Local 1, said in a statement, “unfortunately, the city’s poor implementation in recent weeks led to staffing concerns and frustrated families,” reports CBS. 

“We’ll always talk to our unions. We’ll always take their input but in the end what we know we’ve got the personnel we need to provide for the kids an experience,” said the mayor. He added that “it happens often” that there are disconnects between city education and union officials and reiterated that Summer Rising has a lot of “happy” educators who are ready for the job. 

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