BY NAYABA ARINDE | 4/12/2011, 4:45 p.m.
"It was really, really awesome," said Kayeann White, 18, from the Bronx's Christopher Columbus High School. "I've no words to describe it. I can still hear the screaming and excitement, and feel the strength and power that Columbus brings."
"This is my third tour of duty. I was there when they closed Roosevelt and Evander," said Darlene Alston, a teacher at Columbus. "This is breaking my heart. I have worked in education for 23 years. I thought I would retire from this school. The community should come together--we can stop this."
"Mayor Bloomberg had the unmitigated gall and shamelessness to say the parents protesting at Thursday's Panel for Educational Policy, (which he controls) vote were an embarrassment to America," stormed Williams. "The parents were only responding to the situation he autocratically created. He installed Ms. Cathie Black against the wishes of most parents and teachers and an amazingly diverse body of elected officials. He even went against the advice of a panel of his own people when they suggested the law should not be 'waivered' for her. Yet in his dictatorial way, he rammed her down our throats.
"Yes, I was the one who introduced a resolution in the City Council to prevent her from becoming chancellor. Her first month has provided nothing that would suggest she knows how to be successful in this job. She still hasn't publicly discussed her visions and goals for the DOE, and every time she does open her mouth, you need the Jaws of Life to get her foot out.
"The policies [Bloomberg] has instituted at the DOE have been a slap in the face of the vast majority for parents, teachers and elected officials. It has now reached the boiling point from heat he created. Mayoral control is a failure and municipal control is what is needed," said Williams.
"The stopping of school closings, the ending of mayoral control and the removal of Cathie Black will occur when Egypt comes to America," said Councilman Charles Barron. "There must be an uprising of parents, educators, elected officials and community activists to demonstrate our seriousness. Calling for moratoriums, fairness and stopping cuts on education has fallen on deaf ears. When the people rise up and take it to the streets, only then will they hear us and the people will win."
Queens pol Avella noted, "I have never seen a more blatant example of racism than what is happening in Jamaica High School, and I am sure that this is indicative of other schools facing closure throughout the city. You created this situation, and then you come back and say we need to close down Jamaica High School. Give the school the resources they need and the students will perform. You have created a lost generation for the kids at the regular school. What happens to the ESL and special education students? They are going to go to another high school, and then you are going to come back and say that you have to close down that high school too."
The next PEP meeting is scheduled for March 1 at Brooklyn Technical High School at 6 p.m.
"We have several upcoming protest rallies to stop school closings, stop Cathie Black [and] end mayoral control of schools!" said Barron. "I'm asking the community to join Assemblywoman Inez Barron, the Freedom Party, parents, teachers, students, education activists and concerned citizens. Your participation is needed to make a difference."
The first rally is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 16, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Tweed Building, 52 Chambers Street (between Broadway and Centre Street), Manhattan. The second is Thursday, Feb. 17, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Cathie Black's penthouse, 941 Park Ave., corner of East 81st Street, Manhattan.