Friday, March 2, 2007

Rally to Put the Public Back into Public Education

The rally on Wednesday at St. Vartan's Cathedral was fantastic – dedicated to "Putting the Public back into Public Education. " Over a thousand angry NYC parents, teachers and students, giving voice to their frustration about this administration’s total disregard for their views, and their opposition to the new proposals that will bring more chaos, disruption and budget cuts to our schools.

One personal highlight was Robert Jackson, founder of the CFE lawsuit, former public school parent, and now head of the City Council Education Committee. RJ ran into the audience to pick up a Class Size Matters sign, ran back onstage, and held it up while speaking passionately about the our bill in the State Legislature that would require smaller classes in all grades.

The most elequent speakers, in my opinion, were NYC public school parents Tim Johnson, Chair of CPAC, and Jane Hirschmann from Time Out from Testing, who blew the top off the cathedral and completely outdid the elected officials (other than RJ, of course). I hearby nominate Tim and Jane as our next Mayor and Chancellor.

Others in attendance were City Comptroller Bill Thompson, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Bertha Lewis, head of ACORN, Lillian Rodriguez-Lopez, President of the Hispanic Federation, and Randi Weingarten, President of the United Federation of Teachers.

Another personal highlight was to be able to introduce so many members of the NYC Education List serv to each other in person, who up to that time had only communicated with each other online.

One of those in the audience was Diane Ravitch, eminent historian. I brought her over to Mike Meenan of NY1, who interviewed her on camera while Diane told him how in her study of over two hundred years of the history of NYC public schools, the people running Tweed are unprecedented in their collective hostility to the whole notion of public education. I hope Mike includes her remarks in a future segment.

Diane will be speaking March 27 at 7 PM about the so-called Bloomberg "reforms" at St. John's University, in a meeting open to the public. More details soon.

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