They’re rallying in red to ‘Take Back the Classroom’


Patchogue Teachers

Downtown Patchogue’s Four Corners intersection was awash in red Thursday afternoon as local teachers, parents and students gathered in a color-coordinated protest of high-stakes testing policies coming from Albany.

Those stakes were raised even higher in March, when the state Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo passed a law that tied teacher evaluations even more so to Common Core-aligned student assessments.

The law made it so any teacher deemed ineffective two years in a row must be brought up on charges of incompetence and fired — unless they can prove some kind of fraud was at play. READ MORE HERE

The rally was one of several on Long Island Thursday.

The protests were billed as “Take Back the Classroom; Paint Your Community Red for Public Ed.”

On hand Thursday at Ocean Avenue and Main Street in Patchogue were Patchogue-Medford teachers and administrators, as well as parents and students. The attendees included the district’s superintendent, Michael Hynes, an outspoken critic of the state’s education reform policies.

He said the belief that Thursday’s protests and others like them are rooted in teachers looking out for themselves and not students is misguided.

“If the process that was in place to evaluate teachers was reliable and valid, then I would agree” he said. “But it’s not.”

Beth Warnken, the president of the Patchogue-Medford teacher’s union, said the idea behind the rallies is to raise awareness and gain support outside of just the teachers and parents with school-age children.

She said negative effects of the state’s reform agenda are already being felt within public school hallways.

“I’ve seen teachers who are the utmost professionals, and administrators who I hold in such high regard, that because of these test scores and these ratings, they are broken,” she said. “They’re damaged now.

“How do they explain to themselves, after all their work and the pride in the job they do every day, that they’re developing or less than effective?”

Photo: Local educators protest state education reform in Patchogue. (Credit: Michael White)

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