Rightfully declaring the entire process a scam and a fraud, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) staged a massive walkout of this evening’s Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) hearing at Brooklyn Tech High School in Fort Green, Brooklyn. The walkout took place about 7:45, an hour and a half into the meeting and included not only all UFT members but hundreds of angry and frustrated parents and students. The hearing was the second in two days at Brooklyn Tech, the purpose of which was to close 12 more “ failing” schools in addition to the 10 that were closed at the conclusion of Tuesday’s five and half hour marathon scam fest.
Chants of “Black must go!” erupted the moment Chancellor Cathie Black appeared on stage and lasted a full five minutes before temporarily halting. The chant began again and again holding up the beginning of the process for long stretches of time. Nobody seemed to mind.
Patrick Sullivan, one of the few panel appointees who is not a shameless Bloomberg stooge, received a standing ovation when introduced. As one of the few members of the panel who has actually stood up to Bloomberg and advocated for the children of this city, Sullivan deserved it.
By the time Ms. Black was formally introduced the chanting had begun anew and went on and on and on.
I have never witnessed such scorn hurled upon a public figure before. Then again, I have never witnessed a public figure who has so thoroughly invited such scorn. Two nights ago in the same auditorium, the audience demanded that Black answer the questions that were addressed at her — literally all questions to the chancellor had been intercepted and answered by deputy chancellors –Black broke a four hour silence but scolding the audience and then mimicking them.(http://www.ny1.com/content/news_beats/education/133278/chancellor-black-criticiz)
It was a shocking and bizarre display, even for one who wears her arrogance as proudly as does Black. And it was not, as they say, well received and was doubtless on the mind of many who attended the hearing. I cannot see how this person can continue in the role of chancellor for much longer. I would not be surprised if she were gone in a month or less, either pushed by a embarrassed Bloomberg or just sick to death of being treated with the same contempt she showers on others.
Either way, to see the back of Black could come none too soon.
Speaker after speaker denounced the recklessness and arrogance of Bloomberg and the DOE. Councilman Charles Barron threatened to show the panel how to close down schools by organizing a massive student walkout. It’s a delightful and powerful idea and I hope he goes through with it. Barron also told Black that she was completely unqualified for the job of chancellor, pointing out correctly that Black could not even legally teach a class in the school system over which she presides or even enter a classroom unaccompanied by a certified teacher.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew straight out accused the DOE and by extension the panel of lying to teachers, parents, students and the city by setting up schools to fail and then blaming teachers for the failure. The panel, said Mulgrew, was a disgrace and had no legitimacy whatsoever.
And how right he is.
Shortly thereafter the crowd of at least 2000 people began to slowly rise from their seats and head for the doors leaving Ms. Black and Bloomberg’s largely hand picked panel sitting silently on the stage. I later heard that perhaps 150 people remained.
We walked laughing and smiling into the night. Some blew whistles. Some chanted.
It was 29 degrees outside and I felt not in the least bit cold. Neither, I suspect, did any of the others.
It was beautiful.
May it mark a new beginning of simply refusing to be treated with contempt.
Addendum: As all suspected would happen, Bloomberg’s rubber stamp PEP voted to close all 12 schools.