The Queens representative on the PEP asked if I could post his statement opposing school closings and here it is.
Good morning Chancellor Klein, members of the Panel and members of the public. First, I want to thank my colleagues, parents and everybody at the DOE for their dedicated time on this delicate, but necessary topic. I’ve dedicated many hours to this matter. I listened to the community outcry during their public hearings. I held parent meetings in Queens in order to get a better understanding of the school community concerns and the effect this decision would have on those Queens communities. It was important to understand the topic in order to make an informed decision.
As many of you know, I take my role seriously, and have done so since being first appointed to this board 2 years ago.
I believe that is why I was selected by Borough President, Helen Marshall, to serve as her representative and the communities’ advocate during these public meetings.
We are here, whether appointed by the mayor or by different borough presidents, and together we face monthly decisions that at the end of the day affect more than a million students. We need to be mindful of that role, whether it’s in front of a standing room only auditorium like tonight, or in the near empty rooms that are far more common for these meetings.
Our task is still the same.
To safeguard student interests without making a hasty decision.
I don’t believe that simply following the letter of the law is what was expected of the Department when our state elected officials called for the public hearings on these major matters of concern.
I don’t believe the intent of that legislation was for a DOE official to sit in the front of the room, simply to let those most affected vent their frustrations.
I also don’t believe the intent was for families and community members to have none of their concerns addressed, while answering none of their questions.
That can’t be what the legislature envisioned these hearings to be.
Communication is a key component to a successful proposal and listening goes along way too…
The DOE needed to consult and listen to those who would be most affected by these proposals.
I went to those school hearings to listen and to learn.
And I believe I did.
There very well may come a time when I will raise my hand in support of one of these schools being closed.
But I am not there yet, not because I think closing a school should never be a considered choice, but because I think in order to get to that point, we must first ensure it is THE LAST CHOICE.
And, so Mr. Chairman, on behalf of Queens and the Borough President, tonight I vote No and urge my colleagues to do the same.
Panel for Educational Policy