Testimony of Zoe Rooney to the BOE, June 25, 2020

Before I begin my planned testimony, I would like to address accusations that were leveled against me in this meeting by someone who has a much wider platform and a position of power that I don’t have. I put out the series of tweets that Dr. McIver referenced earlier, and I will state that here in the record because I will not bend to an attempt to shame me for asking valid questions publicly. In her statement, Dr. McIver accused me of racism and intentional misinterpretation of an article about her.

I find it ironic that she accused me of erasing her race, when in her comments she did just that to me. There were plenty of assumptions in her remarks about me that are inaccurate. That’s ok though, I know what I stand for.

None of what I wrote was about her personally. It is disturbing to me that she can use her platform to make her own accusations against me without directly contacting me, clarifying anything beforehand, and when I can’t engage back. Even in saying this now, I know that she will have the chance to respond once my three minutes are up and I am cut off from further participation.

Dr. McIver’s comments show a complete misunderstanding of the concerns in my series of tweets, in which I wasn’t talking about her personally at all, and in which I wrote specifically about the demographics of Penn Alexander School and of Central HS.

I talked about the disparities between Penn Alexander and the district as a whole. If there are problems with the article I was discussing, take it up with the author of the article. I cited all of my sources, and my primary concern is actual equity across schools, and getting rid of practices in math such as reliance on racist standardized tests.

Because I felt the need to revise my testimony to address this, I won’t have time to get all the topics I wanted to when I signed up to speak, one of which is ESY.

I have been coming before you and talking to you about ESY for more than a year. I want you to know that you are still failing your students with special needs and their families. So far this summer, I have received zero communication about ESY, which is supposed to start on this coming Tuesday, other than the general email about how all summer programs will be online.

I also signed up to speak about the grant from PSP to provide additional support for Girls’ High.

When neighborhood schools are struggling, when their enrollment is declining, they’re threatened with closure.

 When students in neighborhood schools aren’t doing well on your racist achievement metrics, their teachers are subjected to mandates and told both implicitly through policies and sometimes explicitly that they don’t know how to do their jobs.

You are maintaining an inequitable system of schools that are haves and schools that are have nots.

When special admit schools are shown on social media to have traumatized years of Black students, they are allowed to fundraise to hire contracted support for their schools.

As a colleague pointed out today, you’ve many times removed entire teaching staffs from neighborhood schools that you’ve labeled as “failing” and forced them to re-interview for their jobs.

You should take a page out of your own book and have every teacher at Masterman and other schools with systemic racism problems undergo anti-racist training, and then have them re-apply.

Similarly, everybody at the “chief” level at the district should be required to explicitly show how they are working with a racial justice lens in all of their projects and initiatives, and if they don’t know how they should resign and be replaced with someone who can do that.

Don’t hire a figurehead “chief of equity” who has no real power to enact systemic change.

It is past time for real anti-racist action.