Monday, December 10

James Liebman escapes parents through side door after City Council hearing

Wow. Folks here are pretty blown away by what just happened. After the council members finished grilling James Liebman (this took about 3 hours), Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson announced that the parents from Time Out From Testing were set up in the City Hall rotunda to present their petitions to Liebman.

But as they waited, Liebman left out of the Council Chambers' side door. The parents — and the many reporters and photographers — scurried to meet him downstairs, on the other side of the building. But security officers and DOE aides pushed the parents back at every turn; it looked like only Time Out From Testing leader Jane Hirschmann made it through the gates to the doors of Tweed, where she too was turned back.

Liebman said many interesting things at the hearing, for sure, many of which could help make parents feel more comfortable with the progress reports and Liebman's accountability program in general. But I can't remember much of what he said. All I can think about is watching him try desperately to avoid involved parents who care very much about what's happening in their children's and their city's schools, just because he disagrees with them.

Time Out from Testing members tell me they collected about 7,00o petitions from schools in every borough and with every possible grade. Now those petitions are sitting in boxes in the hall.


Andy Jacob said...

Your suggestion that Jim Liebman is trying "desperately to avoid involved parents" (or any other parents) because he didn't participate in Time Out from Testing's media stunt is ridiculous. For starters, Jim has met multiple times with the dozen or so activists at today's hearing, and he is happy to continue these conversations in the future. In the past week alone, he addressed three public meetings in Manhattan and Queeens at which these same people were present and at which he spent hours answering all questions and responding to all comments. In the past several months, Jim and his colleagues have talked directly to more than 20,000 parents about the Progress Reports.

It's unfortunate that the advocates at today's hearing, some of whom don't even have children in New York City public schools, appear to be more concerned with staging photo opportunities than with continuing a constructive discussion about improving the Progress Reports.

Leonie Haimson said...

In today's NY Times, Jim Liebman clearly lied when he claimed that he had not deliberately avoided parents. Robert Jackson asked him to step out the front door of the hearing room to accept petitions from parents; nevertheless, he sneaked out a side door and out the back exit.

When parents pursued him around the back of City Hall, he started to run. Moreover, despite the contentions of Andy Jacob above, who works for DOE, Liebman consistently refuses to appear at CEC meetings or any other public gatherings where he might have to sit on a panel with any critics. He is clearly not interested in "constructive discussion" or even debate. And his performance before the City Council yesterday did his own cause no help.

He made repeated obfuscations and misstatements, which we will analyze on the NYC parent blog.