New York City Parents Storm City Hall, Demanding Mayor Order Teachers To Be Put Through Anti-Bias Training

Parents in the Bronx, New York were furious when a middle school teacher overstepped some boundaries in her attempt to teach a lesson about slavery. The city is investigating the incident, but parents say it's not enough.

They believe the one incident is an example of how teachers need anti-bias training. They're putting pressure on the mayor to make it happen.

The uproar began when Patricia Cummings, a teacher at Middle School 118, singled out three African American students during a lesson on slavery last month.

She had the students lie on the floor, then stepped on their backs to show what slavery felt like, staff and students reported.

The 36-year-old teacher has been with the school system since 2016. She was placed on paid leave while Education Department officials investigate the matter. Mayor Bill de Blasio was quick to denounce the alleged methods employed by the teacher.

"It’s not acceptable. It’s not even close,” he said. "I don’t know any teacher in their right mind who would do something like that.”

Parents and student groups are outraged over the incident and say it's just one example of a bigger problem. They believe teachers should be required to take anti-bias training. The call for such training has been going on for months, and they say this incident is only the latest example of why it's necessary.

Some 50 parents gathered on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday and marched up to the office of Mayor de Blasio. They urged him to expand anti-bias lessons, and to install an office for culturally responsive education within the New York City Department of Education.

The mob included members of the Coalition for Education Justice, the Alliance for Quality Education and the NYCLU.

“We’ve been pushing for this for more than a year, but they can ignore us no longer,” said Natasha Capers, who organized the protest, in a speech on the steps of City Hall. “We’re here because of the horrific story in the Daily News.... Incidents like these are harmful to our students.”

When the group refused to leave, the mayor's Chief of Staff, Emma Wolfe, agreed to meet with Capers. The protest leader told Wolfe that if Mayor de Blasio didn't meet with concerned parents, the protesters would return on Thursday.

The mayor's office is considering the request.

“Parents of color have been asking for this kind of training for years and the Mayor has been ignoring our voices,” said one angry mom to the New York Daily News. “This is much bigger than one teacher. This is not the first incident.”

The city has been attempting to fulfill the request, but it’s been slow-going. A new program was instituted in 2017 that began offering anti-bias training to New York City school teachers. But out of the 77,000 teachers on the city payroll, only 450 have taken the training program.

Teachers do receive lessons in culturally responsive education in other settings, notes officials from the Education Department.

“There is no place for this behavior in schools,” said a spokesperson. “We’ve greatly expanded the scope of anti-bias training and will continue to make this resource available to educators.”

Source: NY Daily News
Photo: YouTube

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