Testimony of Zoe Rooney to the BOE, May 28, 2020

I would like to begin by congratulating our Strawberry Mansion High School scholars and our art teacher, Mrs. La Pera, for winning the grand prize and $50,000 in the Vans Custom Culture sneaker design contest. The district wanted to close our school, and still often treats us as less than, but despite all of that we are rising.

I’m going to try to cram a lot into my 2 minutes, which, if you were following your own written policies, would be 3 minutes.

First, I want to know when a public, detailed CSPR update will be posted on the website, including specific dates and information for any surveys, specific dates by which we can finally expect forecast data, and a specific plan for how the rest of the process and the timeline will be adjusted moving forward.

Next, regarding ESY.

  • Online learning is largely ineffective for many children with significant support needs, including my own. He and others like him have already and will continue to regress until they can be back to learning in person.
  • What is the plan for compensating for their lost learning one we are back in schools?
  • Is the district hiring more psychologists and related service providers in preparation for the increased need for evaluations and services?

Regarding plans for the fall, Dr Hite has mentioned multiple times that solutions may look different across the city.

  • While it’s great to recognize that different school communities have different needs, the way this usually plays out in this district is that inequities in the system that the district has refused to acknowledge or address are compounded.
  • In the absence of involving parents, students, and teachers in the actual planning (not just in late-game surveys), it seems likely that there will be fumbling of the sort we saw on March 13th, where some schools were closed and others weren’t, where staffing at some schools required dangerously large groups of students supervised by few adults in close quarters, and where some of us had to scramble for childcare when our children’s schools closed but our work schools were open.
  • It also seems likely that special admit and other schools who are already in positions of relative privilege will continue to get to forge ahead and make their own choices while the rest of us are weighed down by mandates and directives.

Dr. Hite mentioned waiting to hear information from good sources, but if we did that we would be waiting until after the decisions are made, the money is spent, and there’s no turning back.