Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Congresswoman Maloney Struggles On

At the follow-up meeting today to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s mighty assembly of public officials questioning DOE’s plans for addressing D2 overcrowding (see our post below of July 21), NYC’s elected representatives explored new territories of amazement at DOE’s refusal to plan for the overcrowded classrooms so nearly upon us. Parents who have been bemused in the past by OSEPO head Marty Barr’s assertion that DOE makes no plans to address overcrowding until students have hung up their lunchboxes on the first day of school had the treat of seeing a whole new audience marvel at this stubbornly counterintuitive policy. When asked if OSEPO had contingency plans for overcrowding when it does emerge, and what contingencies trigger them, Barr averred that these must remain secret, even from officials, at the risk of starting a panic. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer brought a welcome draught of clear thinking to Tweed with his proposal that officials and DOE collaborate on a “war room,” to combine city planning and educational planning for school construction. Chancellor Klein declared that this idea made sense, betraying no prior familiarity with the planning component of the Borough President’s portfolio. Senator Tom Duane made a heartfelt plea not to be regarded as a mortal enemy when approaching DOE to discuss the concerns of his constituents. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Senators Liz Krueger and Marty Connor, and Councilmember Daniel Garodnick were all strikingly on point. But few practical solutions were on offer by the hosts, and there were some scary intimations, such as reference to a document outlining of “instructional decisions principals must make” regarding the use of classrooms in these times. In spite of the familiar obfuscations however, observers were refreshed by the commitment and preparation of the elected officials, and cheered by the knowledge that some increasing capacity does seem, somehow, to be eking out of this system, though perhaps not directly through the good works of the DOE.

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