By: Jason Stipp
The parents who gathered outside 110 Livingston Street last Wednesday huddled for warmth and directed their anger at the granite facade of the Board of Ed headquarters--and the stonier chancellor within.
The gathering, which was sponsored by the Industrial Areas Foundation and the Public Education Association, drew approximately 150 concerned parents to protest school boss Rudy Crew's reluctance to fire superintendents of poor- performing districts under expanded authority given to him under last year's school governance reform law.
Many of the parents were on hand to blast Crew's approval of a new contract for Superintendent Felix Vasquez, who runs Bushwick's Community School Board 32. A report released by the PEA last March documented seven elementary and three middle schools in the district as being among the lowest performing schools in the city. Earlier this year, School Board 32 reappointed Vasquez, who has been superintendent for three years, with the chancellor's blessing.
"Bushwick has been identified as a dead zone," says Father Rene John, a priest at St. Thomas Episcopal Church and father of twins in public school. "It's demoralizing to the parents and the community. [Crew] is sending the message that he's not serious [about the quality of education in Bushwick]."
Crew didn't respond to the protesters, but in a written statement he said he was still in the process of reviewing the performance of his officials. Dennis Herring, president of CSB 32, says that schools in his district have improved under Vasquez. He also said that principals have been replaced at PS 75, 106 and 151, three of the schools listed in the PEA report.
Herring also pointed to the continued sluggish performance of IS 111, which was taken out of District 32's control and placed in the chancellor's special district in 1996. "[Those who] think the chancellor should do more in District 32 should look at this," he said.