New York City schools chief Rudy Crew apparently didn’t enjoy being called in for a parent-chancellor conference earlier this month.
On March 3, Crew met with around 200 members of the Parents Organizing Consortium, a citywide umbrella group of parents organizations. Meeting at a Tribeca elementary school, the parents posted a six-foot-tall report card to record Crew’s responses to questions about school construction projects, textbook shortages and efforts to give parents new powers in their children’s schools.
The most heated exchange took place when Bronx parents complained about the School Construction Authority’s long delays on Bronx school projects. Parents suggested that Crew, who is one of the SCA’s three trustees, make the under-construction PS 54 in Bedford Park a “test case” for the continued existence of SCA. They urged Crew to call for the abolition of the independent agency if the 600-student school isn’t ready to open on schedule in early 1999.
“You can’t just issue ultimatums,” Crew shot back.
The schools boss also refused parents request to push the mayor to reinstate funding for another Bedford Park elementary school construction project, which was defunded by Mayor Giuliani early in his term. “The answer,” he intoned, “is no.” The multi-ethnic District 10, which stretches from Riverdale down to Fordham, is among the most overcrowded districts in the city.
“He was not respectful of people’s frustration, their fear or their long suffering,” said Lois Harr, an activist with Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition.
Crew wasn’t exactly enchanted by the encounter either. When referring to future meetings, he said, “[Next time, I want] a little more to do with the agenda and how we hold the meeting.”