Protect Our Schools: A Letter from the PS 372 Teachers

In an effort to send a clear and cohesive message from teachers, the following letter was written by our UFT Representative, Michael O’Neill on behalf of all the teachers at The Children’s School. Other schools have sent and will be sending similar letters in a coordinated effort with UFT chapter leaders across district 15. These words represent the sentiment of many teachers at PS 372 and other New York schools. 

March 4th, 2015

Dear Children’s School Families,

We would like to bring your attention to an urgent matter that will soon be decided in Albany. Governor Cuomo has proposed major changes to teacher evaluations in New York State.  We want to let you know, from a teacher’s perspective, about the changes this law could bring to PS372/418 – and to our profession – if it passes.

  • 50% of a teacher’s rating would be based on state test scores.  (Currently it is 20%).
  • 35% of a teacher’s rating would be based on the findings of an outside “independent” observer who would conduct a one-time visit to the classroom.  (This has never been done before.  Currently our principal and assistant principals’ observations count for 60%).
  • 15% of a teacher’s rating would be based on observations by the principal or assistant principals. The very people who know our work best would have the least input into our evaluation.
  • Any teacher who is rated ineffective 2 years in a row will be fired.

Mr. Artie, Ms. Cathy and Ms. Rosa are with us for the entire 180 day school year, yet Albany would have the final say on the quality of our performance based on six days of test and a one time visit.

Faced with these changes, we, along with our colleagues from across the city and state will be forced to do more test prep. Even though we know that the tests do not give an accurate picture of student learning or of the effectiveness of teachers, these proposals will push us to teach in ways they know to be counterproductive. One or two wrong answers by students can break a teacher’s rating. That is why so many schools in NYC spend so much time prepping for the tests.

We feel joy every day at The Children’s School. We are a community that values intellectual curiosity, creativity, and the Arts. A love of learning is visible from the moment you walk in the building, when you go into classrooms, and when you talk to students and teachers.

We became teachers because we wanted to help students become deep thinkers and problem solvers and our teacher community is committed to constantly improving our practice.

Cuomo’s proposed changes will force us to put these ideals on the back burner and jeopardize the many of the things that make the Children’s School such as special place to teach and learn.

We need your help.  And we need it now. The education law is folded into the state budget.  It goes up for a vote before April 1st.

We need you to let your legislators know that you disagree with this plan:

  1. Email Governor Cuomo right now at: and tell him what you think of his proposal.
  2. Contact your assemblyperson. Go to to find their contact information. Send the sample letter below:Dear Assembly Member,

    We are counting on you to stand with parents, teachers, and students who oppose Gov. Cuomo’s education agenda. His plan is based on ideas that research shows will hurt, not help, our children. With your support, we will move NYC public schools forward. Don’t let Gov. Cuomo take us backward!

  3. Telephone the Governor’s office:  1-518-474-8390.
  4. Sign the online petition that can be accessed directly here:
  5. Use social media to spread the word:Facebook:
    Use:  #AllKidsNeed to highlight the inequality and lack of resources that hurt all public school children.

Make whatever noise you can.  Call people on the phone. Show up at their offices. We must not take our community, and all that we have worked so hard to create, for granted.

Thank you.

Michael O’Neill – on behalf of all teachers at The Children’s School
UFT Chapter Leader