More than 50 Mamaroneck High School students staged a protest outside the superintendent’s office during lunch on Friday, April 30 in another attempt to secure tenure for their English teacher, Jennifer Rosenzweig. They were joined by camera crews and reporters from regional and local media outlets, called in by an adult supporter of their efforts.
The students learned before spring break that their teacher had not been recommended for tenure by the principal, Dr. Mark Orfinger, who is retiring at the end of the school year. The teacher could still be recommended for tenure by the superintendent, Dr. Paul Fried, who is also leaving the district in July. Students and parents have lobbied him in private meetings and at the last public session of the Mamaroneck School Board.
On Friday, the students sent a somewhat louder message. Carrying posters and using a megaphone and siren, the students chanted outside Dr. Fried’s office window.
“What do you want? — Tenure!” they shouted. “Who do we want it for? — Mrs. Rosenzweig!”
Students also yelled: “Administration you are wrong,” and “Great teachers make great students.”
“It was amazing,” said Rebecca Paganini, an MHS senior and organizer of the protest. “Dr. Fried refused to come out. But we walked back in with signs – but kept it quiet,” she said, since Dr. Fried was being interviewed.
Dr. Fried has not commented about Ms. Rosenzweig herself – the administration and board does not discuss personnel decisions, except to explain tenure or other procedures and policies.
Nevertheless, the students are hopeful that they are having an effect.
“I definitely do feel it had an impact – it shook up the administration,” said Rebecca. “I think they see us in a different light – more of a force.”
Students have been communicating and organizing on a Facebook page entitled Support Ms. Rosenzweig. The page explains that the teacher would not be allowed to return next year if she does not receive tenure.
After the rally, the teacher posted her appreciation. “No words–my friends–to express what this all means to me,” she wrote. “You are an amazing group of kids and I feel so blessed to know you all–now–it’s a beautiful day–off the computer and get outside (and leave your phones at home!)”
“The students were so articulate, so passionate about their cause to save Ms. Rosenzweig’s job, that I felt I wanted to help them get visibility for their cause,” said Eleanor Sherman, who learned about the planned protest by monitoring the Facebook page and alerted a number of media outlets.
The students will continue to advocate for their teacher at the May 4 board study session. After that, there are only a few days left to influence Dr. Fried’s decision: tenure announcements will be made at the May 11 board meeting.