Children are more than just a number.
That was one of the many messages conveyed at a protest held outside P.S. 185 on Ridge Boulevard regarding what has become a citywide outcry against Governor Andrew Cuomo and his controversial educational policy changes.
Dedicated faculty, parents and students of Bay Ridge stood united on Thursday, March 12 to voice their displeasure peacefully regarding the changes which include a greater emphasis on test results when evaluating teachers.
“This is a unity over what’s going on with the governor’s plans to show that the parents and teachers are all coming together and that we are against his testing proposals,” said physical education teacher and UFT representative, Jane Paul, criticizing a shift that would have 50 percent of teachers’ evaluation based on their students’ test scores.
Parent and teacher Melissa Rinaldi also voiced her displeasure. “We’re fighting for our children, trying to create a movement to put less of an emphasis on standardized testing,” she said. “We want to get back to teaching an enriched curriculum which is tough to do when there is so much tension involved. These parents here want a well-rounded education. They just don’t want their kids to be good test takers. These kids are more than just a three-day exam.”
Testing wasn’t the only item on the agenda, as children and parents held signs pleading for other important causes such as smaller class sizes.
“(Cuomo) should put money into school programs, smaller classes because our class sizes are out of control,” Paul said. Paul also objected to Cuomo’s plan to rely on outside evaluators for 35 percent of a teacher’s rating, with only 15 percent coming from a local evaluator, such as a school administrator. This is outrageous because our principal knows us and our kids,” asserted Paul, mentioning that more attention should also be paid to special education.
Faculty members were wowed by the outpouring of support by parents.
“Our parents have been really supportive,” said Paul. “They’ve gone out to social media to make sure this day would happen. Without that, we wouldn’t have had all these people.” Many of the signs included the hashtag #ourkidsneed.
“I’m very impressed,” added Rinaldi. “We’re fortunate to work in a great community that cares about their children’s education as they should and I’m very happy with the turnout which shows that the agenda that has been put forth in the state of New York is not the best one for our children.”
Parent Laura Leib was happy to show her support, as kids also joined hands. “I loved my teachers growing up,” she said. “I know my son Gavin loves his teachers and we just want to give them every opportunity to feel the love and support of the community.”