Schools Chancellor Rudy Crew yesterday told city teachers to raise the academic performance of their schools and “to do this within the context of not blaming people.”
“Who has time to blame anyone?” Crew asked in a speech to more than 2,000 members of the city’s United Federation of Teachers, gathered in Manhattan for their annual convention.
“We have thousands of children who can’t spell blame,” Crew said. “This is about 65,000 teachers, every administrator, every parent within any sound or sight of this school system, accepting collective and full responsibility for 1 million children.”
Crew made light of two perennial complaints by city high school teachers — that students are ill-prepared by their lower school teachers and that parents fail to take an active role in educating their children.
“If those parents would send us the really smart kids that are somewhere in their homes every day, we wouldn’t have those problems,” Crew joked. “And if those primary teachers, if they had just done their jobs . . .”
Crew’s speech came after two Democratic mayoral candidates took questions from some of the union’s 130,000 members, who make it among the most potent electoral forces in the city.
Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger and City Councilman Sal Albanese of Brooklyn agreed on most issues, differing only on whether Regents exams should be written and offered in four foreign languages, as the state Education Department has proposed.
Albanese said he would be “very cautious” about supporting such a proposal, given the bureaucratic and cultural complexities of administering the tests.
Messinger, meanwhile, offered strong suppport for the foreign language tests, as long as all students still had to pass a “very high level proficiency test in English before they graduate.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton, did not attend yesterday’s question-and-answer forum because of a schedule conflict.