Fired-up parents and outraged teachers pessimistic about a forward-thrusting classroom culture joined aggressive progressives at a meeting in Brooklyn on Monday night to talk and strategize about what is next on the cards in response to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and David Steiner making the unqualified, waiver-granted Cathie Black new Schools Chancellor.
Far from done and dusted, folk like Councilmembers Charles Barron and Jumaane Williams attended an overflow gathering at Sistas Place in Brooklyn on Monday evening, as they railed against the appointment and voted on a plan to embrace: lawsuits, protests, the possibility of civil disobedience and a march on the homes of Cathie Black, Mayor Bloomberg and Steiner.
Activist Viola Plummer opened the meeting by saying, “At approximately 5 p.m. today, Bloomberg arrogantly steamrolled the laws guiding the selection of Education Chancellor and installed the inept, unqualified, former publishing corporate exec Cathie Black to educate over 1 million of our children. It is clear that the Bloomberg media conglomerate has identified a lucrative market. It is called the Department of Education.”
“The fight to remove Cathie Black will move forward! We are in this for the duration. We need people who will keep fighting for our children after the TV cameras leave, and it is no longer on the front page. We have got to stay the course no matter what. And we need each of you to inspire people like yourselves to join us, and fight until we remove Black,” said Plummer.
“Black must go! Black must go!” the crowd roared.
Retired educator and original Oceanhill Brownsville Struggle veteran Jitu Weusi then gave an extensive history of the long battles for a quality education for our children in the public schools. “We are going to have Black removed. It is our responsibility to fight for our children,” he stated.
Councilman Williams is another outraged elected official. “Even with her lack of qualifications, Cathie Black received the wavier to become the school’s next chancellor,” Williams said. “Apparently, the countless voices of parents, students, teachers and local residents don’t matter to Commissioner Steiner. The Commissioner’s own advisory panel voted to deny Black the wavier and they were also ignored.
“The needs of the people have been eluded and I believe that’s a shame. I am disappointed by this decision. Managerial skills do not equate into a chancellor. The Mayor wouldn’t appoint Black as the head of the NYPD or FDNY even if she was a good manager, because she lacks the background for that position. I believe the children of the largest education system in the country deserve to be held in the same high regard.”
CEMOTAP (Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive to Afrikan People) co-founder Dr. James McIntosh, radio personality Bob Law and attorney Roger Wareham were also in attendance at Monday’s standing-room-only meeting.
Councilman Barron laid out the particulars of the plan of action. “There are several things we must do immediately,” Wareham explained to the crowd. “First we will request a TRO (temporary restraining order) and file an Article 78 in court this week against Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Steiner.”
Barron added, “Cathie Black must be removed, our children deserve better. This is what happens when you have mayoral control of the schools. Bloomberg has no respect for educators, parents or students. Second, we will hold regular mass protests in front of the Tweed Building. The first demonstration will be on Thursday [December 2] at 4 p.m.,” he continued.
“Third, mass protests in front of the homes of Mayor Bloomberg, Commission Steiner and Cathie Black will be held. Fourth, we must demand an end to mayoral control of schools and stop Bloomberg’s atrocious abuse of power. We are also exploring the possibility of a boycott of the schools. Black must go!” Barron concluded. “We are also looking into the legal avenues to see what could be done, if anything, to recall the mayor. His megalomania has to be stopped. He should not underestimate our resolve.
In just a few weeks a small group of people shut down a multi-million dollar play on Broadway, because we found the ‘Scottsboro Boys’ minstrel show to be offensive. We in the Freedom Party are just as committed and intend to be just as victorious in seeing that Cathie Black is removed from the Chancellor’s job, and replaced by a qualified, seasoned and dedicated educated–all of which she is not.”
The group is also planning a large protest/rally at the Tweed Building, 52 Chambers Street, in Manhattan on Thursday, December 2 from 4-6 p.m.