A spirited picket line of teachers called on Mayor Bloomberg yesterday to call for an end to supervisory abuse and a fair settlement in the case of the Bronx Science Twenty. Current and former Bronx Science teachers were joined by UFT colleagues from all over New York City in a demonstration focused on a recent fact-finding decision which pushed for “healing” at the storied Bronx campus. Department of Education Chancellor Joel Klein has ignored the fact finding decision by neutral arbitrator Carol Wittenberg that found that twenty of the twenty-two math teachers in the school had been harassed.
The demonstration of 65 to 70 teachers carried signs saying “No Excuse for Teacher Abuse” and “Teacher Turnover Hurts Students.” Bronx Science UFT Chapter Leader, Peter Lamphere, said “The DOE’s disregard of the fact-finding decision will only lead to increasing tension at the school, further demoralization of teachers, and a worsening learning environment for our children. We have no choice but to take our case to the Mr. Klien’s boss, Mr. Bloomberg.”
According to the annual DOE Learning Environment Survey, two thirds of the teachers at Bronx Science don’t think they can “trust the principal at her word.” Turnover at the school has increased, according to the official school report cards. For newer teachers, turnover has been higher than 20%, reaching 35% in some years, in contrast to comparable schools like Manhattan’s Stuyvesant High, where turnover for newer teachers was 4% in 2007-8. The percentage of teachers at Bronx Science with three years or less experience has increased from 10% in 2004-5 to 17% in 2008-2009 to about 36% in 2009-10 and the school has not hired a tenured teacher or counselor in the past two years.
Picketers distributed a letter to Bronx Science faculty from UFT President Michael Mulgrew, which described Klein’s lack of action “an unacceptable response to what has become a critical situation in your school.” Chapter Leader Lamphere added that “The DOE and the national media would like to have the public believe that teachers are only disciplined in order to improve educational outcomes, but this fact-finder’s report exposes that good teachers have fallen victim to supervisors who abused their power.”
Contact: Peter Lamphere – 917-969-5658