DECEMBER 1, 2022, NEW YORK, NY – More than 1,500 parents of students who attend the New School, already suffering from COVID lockdowns, have signed a petition demanding that the recent standoff between administrators and striking teachers be immediately resolved so that classes can resume.
An online town hall organized in just a few days was attended by more than 450 parents.
At issue is the debate between “part-time faculty” (who make up nearly 90% of the faculty) and school administrators regarding pay and benefits. The parents have been anxiously watching the breakdown in negotiations as their children continue to suffer with future careers put on hold.
Even though the New School has one of the highest tuition fees in the country and no abatement was granted to students during the pandemic, when actual services provided to the students were dramatically reduced, The New School is claiming that it does not have the funds to compensate part-time faculty fairly.
“The school is blaming the union; the union is blaming the school. We don’t care who is at fault. This strike needs to end immediately. It is hurting the very kids who have already endured chaos and disruption in their learning for the past two years,” said Bev Dantz, mother of a Parsons School of Design student.
Parents believe that it was irresponsible for the New School administration to allow this labor dispute to remain unresolved going into the Fall semester. “The teaching is first-rate, but the administration has been questionable since the beginning, and this strike is uncovering huge cracks in the foundation,” said Dantz.
For the parents, the standoff feels like a repeat of COVID all over again, with concern that protracted negotiations are harming students and threatening family pocketbooks. Another major concern is that students will be able to graduate on time. The students are isolated and getting worried about their future.
“Our children’s mental health is at stake,” said Elizabeth Barrett Noto, parent of a junior. “These kids have sustained two years of upheaval and isolation…the New School’s mental health services are completely online and have been reduced with students waiting four to five weeks to speak to online counselors. It’s hard to sustain hope for normalcy,” said Noto.
Kelly Powers is one of the parents leading the effort, including organizing the online town hall.
“It was intense, to say the least. The New School has poked the Parental Bear,” says Powers.
“400+ parents have sent a letter with these demands and a petition with 1500+ signatures. We have paid our tuition for the students to be in class. We urge the Administration to stop deflecting responsibility and get our kids back into the classrooms now.”
The parents are considering a wide range of options, including a class action to recover tuition spent for classes not held and withholding tuition payments for the Spring semester until a fair contract is signed and classes resume.