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Hundreds Protest Cuomo Schools Plan With Human Chain at Fort Greene School

By Janet Upadhye | March 12, 2015 4:57pm
 Students, teachers and parents formed a "human chain" around the P.S. 20 building Thursday morning.
Hundreds Protest Cuomo Education Plan at Fort Greene School
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FORT GREENE — Hundreds of teachers, parents and students held hands to form a "human chain" around a Fort Greene school to protest Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education policy changes — including teacher evaluations with heavy emphasis on standardized test results.

The protest, which took place outside the co-located P.S. 20 and Arts and Letters Academy before school Thursday morning, was part of more than 80 protests planned at schools across the city.

They are unhappy with the governor's proposal, which would tie a $1.1 billion school aid package to a series of education reforms that some opponents say would make it easier to fire teachers.

Under the proposed reforms, half of Cuomo's teacher evaluations would be based on state test scores, up from the current 20 percent. Thirty-five percent would be based on observations by outside "professionals."

Principal observations currently constitute 60 percent of the evaluation, but that would go down to 15 percent under Cuomo's plan.

As residents joined hands around the school they chanted "Save our schools," and "Learning not testing."

A+L - PS20 HANDS AROUND THE SCHOOL from Frantic Studio/client on Vimeo.

Public Advocate Letitia James, who lives nearby, also came out to protest the policies — that Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña called "not a good idea."

"This is about standing up for something you believe in," James said to the crowd. "If you believe in your school and want to protect it then you need to organize."

"We don't believe in high stakes testing."

Parents agreed with James saying that testing quells creativity.

"When students are preparing for these standardized tests they are actually doing less learning and being less creative," said parent of two Marnie Brady.

Others felt the protest was empowering and hoped it would catch the attention of Albany. 

"We have gained so much momentum in just one week," said parent Dawn Babbush. "Every teacher from our school is here — we are unified out here and we have had enough."