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West Queens’ Region 4 head ripped over new class rules

"Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Irrizary's got to go!" They chanted. "Let teachers teach." The workshop method, which Region 4 introduced in elementary reading and writing curriculums last school year, forces teachers to break lessons into 10-minute blocks of instruction followed by a 20-minutes of group work and another 10-minute summary discussion. Carolyn Barbero, 36, a second-grade teacher at PS 13 in Elmhurst, said the method robs her of the flexibility to address individual student's needs because she has to stick to the script even if a child is lost. She carried a placard describing herself as a "Stepford Teacher" in a reference to the feature film "Stepford Wives" where women are turned into robot clones to better serve their husbands."It's just that they want us to all be doing the same thing at the same time," Barbero said. "It's like there's no individuality." She was among the hundreds of teachers in Region 4's 106 schools who supported a letter of censure - or formal list of complaints - against Irrizary on Dec. 2. The region comprises schools in Astoria, Long Island City, Woodside, Sunnyside, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Maspeth, Middle Village, Glendale and Rego Park. The letter demanded that Irrizary cease micro-managing teachers with "cookie-cutter" methods that regulate everything from the color of bulletin boards and arrangement of classroom furniture. District 30 UFT representative Jeffrey Zahler said the union held the protest because Irrizary had not addressed the teachers' grievances. "I'm a New York City teacher and I used to love my job," said Katie Kurjakovic, 42, of PS 11 in Woodside, when she took the podium. "We are outside because they will not address our questions inside."A handful of politicians took the stage to support the teachers, including U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Kew Gardens); state Sens. George Onorato (D-Long Island City) and Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone); state Assembly representatives Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood) and Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights); and City Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside).Weiner, a likely candidate for mayor, got roars from the audience after saying that his mother was a 34-year veteran of the New York City public School system and promising to work for fair wages and benefits for the educators."I don't want you to be interior decorators that are more concerned about where the chairs are and less concerned about how the students are doing," he said. Reach reporter Matthw Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156

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