A group of recent graduates are joining the chorus of those criticizing Bronx High School of Science principal Valerie Reidy.
Reidy has repeatedly come under fire during her decade-long tenure for the test score-focused, tough-on-teachers policies she has made cornerstones of her administration, and teachers have battled back against negative evaluations they received under her watch.
With promises of free chocolate brownies for the first 50 people who arrive, eight recent graduates and two current students are holding a rally on campus tomorrow afternoon to protest the administrative and disciplinary policies that they say threaten the school’s stellar reputation.
The students organizing now say they consulted with one teacher when putting together their list of demands, but otherwise the protest is their own. It’s also a first for some of them. Catherine Jung, a Cornell University senior, said she eschewed activism for academics when she was a student at Bronx Science, which she graduated from in 2008. She stayed in class when other students held a walk-out to call for Reidy’s firing.
But, Jung said the negative tones of some news articles she read about Bronx Science in the fall of 2011 motivated her to begin organizing with other recent alumni last October. She expects dozens of her former classmates to attend the event, scheduled while many college students are home for winter break.
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“The protest is our way of expressing our opinions and showing our support, and for the administration to realize that we as former and current student know what is going on,” she said. “Even though we were and are students, we should have our say too, and the current students especially should be treated with more dignity and respect.”
Maxwell Waters, a 2008 graduate who joined teachers who rallied against Reidy last year, said he learned about the event from a Facebook group, Take Back Bronx Science, that recent graduates had started. “You can’t say Bronx Science with the same pride,” he said. “The older teachers who knew how to reach students effectively are being forced out and the new teachers lack experience.”
An announcement about the protest on the Facebook page had drawn more than 50 comments, expressing both support and skepticism for the protest.
“Since it’s not during school hours, students won’t get penalized as much,” one wrote, adding, “The admin. of our school need to realize that we are directly affected by each and every single mistake that goes on in this school.”
Another student who said he attends Stuyvesant High School, another top city school, said the situation at Bronx Science mirrors his school. “We find it difficult to go against the administration,” he said. “We have offered many suggestions in the past, but very few have been acknowledged. I could write an entire essay.”
And one offered a few words of caution to those venturing onto the field in January: “You’re all going to freeze to death.”