FORT GREENE — Students, teachers and parents across the city plan to create human chains around their schools to protest Gov. Andrew Cuomo's education reform proposals — including teacher evaluations based heavily on standardized testing.
The protest, planned for the morning of March 12, is in response to the governor's proposed $1.1 billion increase in school aid in exchange for a series of proposals that might make it easier to fire teachers, opponents of the plan say.
Half of Cuomo's proposed teacher evaluation would be based on state test scores — up from 20 percent — and 35 percent would be based on observations by outside "professionals."
Principal observations currently constitute the majority of the evaluation. That would go down to 15 percent under Cuomo's plan.
Opal Morrison, a teacher from P.S. 20 in Clinton Hill who plans to participate in the protest, thinks the proposed evaluation fails to tell the whole story.
"As a special education teacher, I spend my before school, lunch, and after school time supporting my students," she said in a statement. "Test scores and outside evaluators can’t capture my students’ struggles and achievements.
"It’s just disrespectful, not only to us as teachers but to our children.”
P.S. 20 PTA President Vascilla Caldeira agreed saying, "Testing makes our kids into clones instead of the creative people they are meant to be."
Cuomo's plan would also tie teachers' tenure to the evaluations and increase the cap on charter schools. The governor also plans to cut funding for schools that don't adopt his teacher evaluation system.
Cuomo called the current evaluation systems "baloney" in his State of the State address and said, "We need real, accurate, fair teacher evaluations.”
But city Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña sided with teachers calling the governor's plan "not a good idea."
The governor's press office and the city's Department of Education did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Many parents also agree that teachers' evaluation should not rely so dramatically on test scores.
"We stand united with our teachers to protect quality education based on inquiry, innovation, problem-solving, collaboration and community," Kimberly Bliss, a Clinton Hill parent who plans to protest, said.
Class Size Matters, one of the organizers, says the following schools plan to participate in the protest. Call beforehand to confirm.