On Monday night, the Department of Education was prepared to hear from angry parents** — and there were plenty.
The meeting, held on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, started quietly, as DOE officials explained that the state raised the bar for proficiency this year, which is why so many fewer city students passed. But when the public comment period began, the auditorium got louder. Forty people signed up for two minutes at the microphone, and they were angry.
"Real harm has been caused. Testing-Gate has caused harm to students, parents and tax payers," said David Bloomfield of the College of Staten Island.
"Pretty much we feel that we’ve been lied to in terms of the score of the test. They were saying that we had a higher score and then we find out that isn’t true and a lot of schools have been closed because of that," said parent Elbibio Molina.
This was the second time the DOE had tried to address this issue. The first time, two weeks ago, angry parents shut down the meeting when the panel refused to even consider a motion to hear public comment.
Only half the panel members showed up for the rescheduled meeting Monday and parents said that was another indication of how little their voices are heard. By the time Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and his deputies spoke, parents shouted over them, walked out en masse, and turned their backs to the stage. In the end, both officials and audience members claimed the other side just wouldn’t listen.
DOE officials say students have still made progress even though according to the new standards, many fewer students are proficient. But parents who attended the meeting say they want a better explanation for the lower scores.
**Including members of Make the Road New York (MRNY).