Saving our Schools, One School at a Time

The Department of Education reversed their ruling to close PS 114, after NYCC and CEJ joined with concerned parents and Canarsie residents to tell the NYDoE: We teach our kids to clean their own mess, and so should you!  
Let me tell you a little story about a school called PS 114.  It’s been around for over a hundred years (yeah, really) and was going fine and graduating true scholars until one day the Department of Education put Maria Pena-Herrera in charge of the place.  Given the mandate from the NYDoE to keep the budget tight, she instead treated the school’s budget like a credit card where someone else got the bill and (mis)managed the place into $180,000 of debt.

Now, the NYDoE could have realized their mistake and set things right, but hey what’s the fun in that?  Next up they stuck the school with three different principals over the course of four years (great lesson here for our kids, by the way, about cleaning up your own mess), resulting in administrators suffering from short-timers disease all while cutting guidance counselors and tutoring services to cover up the debt left by Maria’s malfeasance.

Yet, PS 114 would not die.  As late as two years back, the school had a B grade, which is a great testament to the perseverance and dedication of PS 114’s teachers, students, and parents; all of whom knew our community deserved better than what the NYDoE was serving up year after year after year… But eventually the DoE mismanagement and malicious neglect took a toll on the school’s grade.  When this fell the same Department of Education that gave the school a principal who spent like a sailor on leave and followed this smooth move up with a string of short-timers clock-punching their way to a “better” assignment decided: PS 114 Must Die!

Parents got up in arms and did what working families do when someone threatens our neighborhood: We banded together like neighbors do and we FOUGHT BACK!  NYCC and CEJ joined with parents to organize meetings, hold rallies, get in front of the media to remind everyone that PS 114 had been providing quality education for over 100 years, and could still serve New Yorkers for another 100 years, if only the NYCDoE would fix THEIR problems and let our kids learn.

Everyone and I mean EVERYONE thought we were going to lose this fight.  Everyone said “You’re fighting Mayor Mike and The Cola Queen??  Good luck!”  We said back: “When we have parents like those from PS 114 and such solid evidence of DoE mismanagement, who needs luck?”

The showdown was set.  We had our parents ready, willing, and able to stand tall for PS 114.  We had rallies, press conferences, meetings, a weekend where we went door to door informing our neighbors of this fight, and finally a big rally at PS 114 the night before big hearing where the DoE would decide the school’s fate, and then….

“In a rare reversal, the city Education Department backed down on closing a Brooklyn public school in the face of growing public pressure.”

Our work is not done, not by a long shot.  We still have to make sure the NYCDoE assigns a principal to PS 114 who wants to do more than show up to work, we still have to deal with the debt left by Maria’s Malfeasance, and we still have to fight back against Governor Cuomo’s Budget Cut plan… But remember this: Our kids, our schools, our neighborhoods will only stay safe from the short-sighted decisions and neglect of City Hall and Albany so long as we join together and fight for what’s right!

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