Archive for August, 2013

A shadow and a candle

by Arjun Janah, July 2013

As the long, dread shadow of Detroit falls over the cities, a flickering candle is lit in Bridgeport, Connecticut.Will we allow it to be blown out, as Arne Duncan and so many who have power, wealth and access to the media would wish?

The requirement that a school superintendent should have basic education credentials (not to speak of teaching experience) appears to be common sense — but not in the bizarre world we have entered.

Let us salute the parents of Bridgeport and the Working Families Party.Let us remember that the ones who got rid of Mayor Fenty and Michelle Rhee in D.C. were not the “social progressives” nor the elites of Washington, but the middle class and poor, mostly African Americans, who were most directly affected by what was happening in the schools and saw the problems most clearly.

This is not to say that the situation prior to Rhee in D.C. or that in Bridgeport prior to this superintendent was not grave. But should cancer be treated with medicine fit for toothache — or vice versa?

Before beginning or continuing any treatment, the validity of the diagnostic hypothesis — judged by the observational and experimental evidence for and against it, needs to be seriously considered.

— Arjun

Two photos from demonstration against racist principal

Last month teachers and supporters picketed Tweed. They demanded an immediate, rapid and unbiased investigation by the Chancellor’s office into allegations that a Queens Principal called African American teachers she was firing “big lipped,” “nappy haired,” and “gorillas.”

Demonstration against racist principal 2

Pan American International High School will be without any African American teachers next year, because two teachers were fired after a Queens Principal, Minerva Zanca, made racist comments about them in closed-door meetings with her assistant principal.  The third African American teacher is leaving the school because of severe budget cuts to her hugely successful Theater program which were racially motivated.

Picketers demanded a full investigation into these allegations and, if they are substantiated, that the DOE hold the principal accountable to its zero-tolerance policy against discrimination.  They also demanded the discontinuances be reversed and the teachers be rehired.

Demonstration against racist principal

The Chapter Leader, Peter Lamphere, is a leading member of the MORE Caucus, which endorsed the picket, as did New Action/UFT, and as did the UFT as a whole.


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