BY NAYABA ARINDE | 4/12/2011, 4:45 p.m.
"Closing schools is not the answer: Fixing them is," said Council Member Robert Jackson at a hearing where Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Cathie Black and the Panel for Educational Policy voted to close down another 13 schools.
"You're taking away our stability," a young man implored at the mic at Brooklyn Technical High School last Thursday during the public hearing and Panel for Educational Policy vote.
"Schools belong to the people; they don't belong to you," said a member of the very well organized Urban Youth Collaborative.
"We spent billions to bail out the financial industry. Let's bail out the schools," said Councilwoman Rosie Mendez
State Sen. Tony Avella declared, "What you see now, or what you saw on Tuesday, is just the beginning. If it takes a revolution in this city, we are going to take back our schools."
"We are going to introduce legislation this week to hold a one-year moratorium prohibiting the DOE from initiating any school closures," State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries told the AmNews. "As a result of what the DOE has done in the last two years, many members of the Legislature think they've gotten out of control. Our schools need a turnaround strategy, not a shut down strategy."
There was an endless stream of parents, students, activists and politicians who stepped up to say their piece.
Following a UFT rally outside Brooklyn Tech in Downtown Brooklyn, union head Mike Mulgrew slammed the panel as "illegitimate."
Councilman Jumaane Williams assailed the 13-member Panel for Educational Policy, with its eight mayoral appointees. "You're not even getting paid--I'd hate to see what you'd do for $10!"
"The revolution that's going on in the streets of Egypt is erupting right here in the streets of Brooklyn in response to a dictatorial decision by the Bloomberg administration to close schools and co-locate charter schools without any public input," said Councilwoman Leticia James.
Black had to endure a voracious reception of anger and defiance. Hundreds of sign-wielding students yelled at Black and the panel such slogans as "Cathie Black is whack" and "Cathie Black must go."
The mayor's office did not respond to Amsterdam News requests for comment. Likewise, the DOE has ignored several requests for an interview or even direct comment from Black.
In a statement last Friday, Bloomberg said, "When you're yelling at a meeting like they had last night, you're yelling at the teachers. You're dissing them, you're dissing the principals, you're dissing the school safety officers, you're dissing the custodians, you're dissing the taxpayers paying for it."
"In his comments, the mayor criticized parents and said, 'This is not democracy.' It surely is not," said Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters. "It is Bloomberg who has shown profound disrespect to parents and our priorities. Vocal protest is the only method we have left to express our anger at the abusive and illegitimate system that exists now, in which the mayor continues to undermine the quality of our children's schools, and we are powerless to stop it."