Parents, teachers slam de Blasio over last-minute delay in school openings

An angry parent of a Big Apple public school kid and a frustrated teacher blasted Mayor Bill de Blasio during a radio interview Friday over his bungling the reopening of city schools amid the coronavirus crisis.

One Brooklyn parent who called in to WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” during the mayor’s weekly appearance pressed de Blasio as to why he waited so long to again delay in-person learning for city school kids — leaving working parents scrambling ahead of next week.

“Why has the mayor waited this long to make this decision? How are we supposed to manage like this?” asked the parent, who identified herself as Ellen.

De Blasio on Thursday made the bombshell 11th-hour announcement that the city will push back in-person learning for public school students — for the second time — in all grades above pre-K just four days before students were set to return.

Hizzoner cited teacher staffing shortages within the Department of Education, caused by the blended instruction approach, among the major reasons as to why he took the action.

“That staffing shortfall,” Ellen correctly pointed out, “has been well known and the principals have been talking about this for some time. This just seems very late to make this decision.”

Ellen also expressed her confusion on the school start date for her children who she said attends a joint District 75 and District 15 school.

“This has been a real challenging situation, so I want to be clear, I do feel for any parent who is trying to make sense of this under — particularly, these horrible conditions that we’re dealing with generally,” de Blasio said in response to Ellen.

“We’ve been trying to restart the entire school system with in-person, with blended, with remote — fully remote, get the staffing right to the right places, with changing numbers constantly, in terms of who’s going to be in school and who’s not — both staff and students,” he added.

De Blasio claimed that trying to reopen the city’s schools has “been a greater challenge than anyone foresaw.”

“Look, it’s painful, but we’re going to get there and we’re going to get there quickly and we’re going to make sure it’s done right. We’re going to make sure it’s safe,” said de Blasio, adding, “I do feel the frustration that parents are feeling.”

When the nation’s largest school system is “up and running,” he said, “It will have been worth it.”

A Queens teacher who called into the radio show explained how the constantly changing schedules of educators and students between remote and blended learning is “really impeding our ability to be ready.”

She said the current school plan, “is really shortchanging kids,” when it comes to live instruction.

“If you had listened to us, if you’d listened to what schools really needed, we could be doing a better job to serve our students,” the teacher railed to de Blasio. “We should have been spending the summer improving our remote learning plans and now we’re short on teachers.”

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Bill de Blasio inside a Brooklyn school
Bill de Blasio inside a Brooklyn schoolBloomberg via Getty Images

The educator went on, “I’m really frustrated because you and the Chancellor [Richard Carranza] do not listen to principals and teachers who know their communities.”

De Blasio told the woman that he “fundamentally” disagrees with her claim that teachers and principals are not being listened to.

“I truly believe we’re trying to do something extremely difficult here,” de Blasio said. “But I believe it is based on that most foundational concept that we asked the stakeholders, the ultimate stakeholders — the people we serve, the parents and children — what they wanted, what they needed.”

The mayor insisted, “Where we start in September is not where we end — we’re going to keep working at making it better.”

“But we’ve been listening to people and trying to make adjustments based on that feedback,” he said.

New York Post


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