PARK SLOPE — Hundreds of families lined up in the windy cold Thursday morning to rally against Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed teacher rating system, chanting "Hey, hey, ho ho, Cuomo’s plan has got to go" as they formed human chains around several neighborhood schools.
Parents, students, teachers and administrators at P.S. 107, P.S. 10, P.S. 321, P.S. 124, and several other elementary schools staged the protests as part of a citywide fight against Cuomo's proposal to give more weight to standardized test scores in teacher ratings.
Cuomo has said his system will weed out under-performing educators, but parents fear the governor's test-centric evaluations could cost some beloved teachers their jobs. Under Cuomo's proposal, teachers who are rated ineffective two years in a row could be fired, and principals wouldn't be able to intervene to save their jobs, schools say.
"It seems so unfair — if a kid is not a good tester, it's not going to reflect well on the ability of the teacher," said P.S. 107 mom Ruthy Byers as she stood outside the school collecting signatures against Cuomo's proposal. "We really want to support our teachers and principal."
At P.S. 321, long a leader in the movement to limit high-stakes testing, a "massive turnout" of families chanted "less testing, more teaching," said PTA member Emma Murphy. "We have a huge groundswell of upset parents who are livid with Governor Cuomo's proposals,” Murphy said.
Parents from P.S. 107 and P.S. 321 say they plan to travel to Albany soon to protest there.
Last month teachers at P.S. 321 and other top-performing Brooklyn schools sent letters to parents asking for help battling Cuomo's proposal. Parents in District 15 were quick to respond, in part because many were already staunch critics of high-stakes testing.
"This is a passion of parents," said City Councilman Brad Lander, who joined families at P.S. 107 and P.S. 10. "Sometimes in the media it's played as an issue with the [teachers' union]. But from the side of public school parents, this is not a battle of interests. It's about our kids and our schools."
Cuomo's proposal is part of a state budget package that includes a $1.1 billion funding increase for public schools. Cuomo has said that if lawmakers don't approve his education proposals, schools will lose about $1 billion in state funding.
State lawmakers are scheduled to vote on the budget on April 1.