The city’s education policy board voted to make
entering high school much more difficult for city kids during a raucous meeting
Monday night in which protesters shouted, "Shame!"
The Panel For Educational Policy voted 11 to 1 to
support Mayor Bloomberg’s stricter eighth-grade promotion policy despite angry
objections from parents.
The lone dissenter on the board was Patrick
Sullivan, an appointee of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.
Starting next year, eighth-graders who flunk a
major academic class or bomb a standardized math or reading exam will have to
repeat the grade.
"What good does it do our students if we’re
sending them wholly unprepared into a high school environment?" Chancellor
Joel Klein said after the vote was taken.
The vote was cast amid shouts of, "Shame on
you" from about 85 people**
packed inside the Education Department’s Tweed Courthouse headquarters. Another
50 or so protesters who couldn’t fit into the room stood outside shouting,
"Let us in!" There was so much yelling that the remainder of the
meeting had to be suspended.
"You are just punishing students for the
failure of their schools," Lenore Brown of Brooklyn,
who has eight grandchildren in public schools, told the panel. The new policy
comes at a time of deep cuts to the city’s public schools.
The vote was hardly a surprise. The panel, which
replaced the Board of Education when Mayor Bloomberg took over the schools in
2002, almost always offers unanimous support to his policies.
The one time that members of the panel signaled
that they would oppose the mayor was when he sought similarly stringent
promotion criteria for third-graders in 2004. Bloomberg fired his two
appointees to the board and replaced them with more agreeable panelists. The Staten Island borough president also fired his appointee
at the time.
Monday night, roughly four years after what came to
be called the Monday Night Massacre, was far less dramatic.
Make the Road New York members and