Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mike Gets Tough on Parents

June 9, 2009 (GBN News): With control of the State Senate now in political limbo, the future of Mayoral control of the NY City schools is also in question. In fact, the Mayor and Schools Chancellor are so panicked over the prospect of losing control over the schools that they are now apparently using humiliation and intimidation to assert their control over public school parents.

A source at the DOE, speaking to GBN News on condition of anonymity, said that Mayor Bloomberg’s new campaign manager, Emomali Rakhmon, is behind the new policy. Mr. Rakhmon, who as dictator of Tajikistan parlayed his “get tough” attitude into a landslide presidential election which was “widely dismissed as a farce”, is said to have been hired by Mr. Bloomberg to shore up his dwindling poll numbers. When the Mayor complained that public school parents were “interfering with their children’s education” and trying to overturn his total control over the schools, the Tajik strongman told him, “In Tajikistan, we know how to handle people like that – just watch me and do like I do.”

Mr. Rakhmon demonstrated his technique for the Mayor this morning at Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village. A parent, bringing a textbook to school for his daughter who had mistakenly left it home, checked in at the front desk in the lobby, about 25 yards from the Dean’s office where the book could have been immediately left for the child. However, after signing in the parent was told that random metal scanning was going on, and he would have to exit the building, re-enter through the side door, and go through the scanners.

The parent then had to walk a gauntlet of school safety officers to a basement hallway, where he was told to remove his belt and deposit it and all other metal objects into a bin. After exiting the scanner, he put the belt back on and the items back into his pocket. He was then pointed over to a second station, where he was again told to remove his belt and metal items. The safety officers told him to spread his legs and put his arms out, in what the parent felt was an extremely humiliating position, while the officers passed a wand across his legs, arms, and body. Only after being scanned twice was he allowed to finally proceed into the school.

Some critics of the Mayor have termed this new intimidation policy “excessive”. However, others feel it does not go far enough. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, in an exclusive interview with GBN News, said of the above incident, “You have to question why they even let that parent go free at all. These parents could be terrorists. After scanning, they should have waterboarded him, then thrown him into Gitmo. Oh, yeah, they’re closing Gitmo. Well, at least they could have put him into one of those rubber rooms they’ve got for teachers. They’re almost as good.”

Editors Note: Only some of the above piece is parody. The part about the Van Buren parent, unfortunately, is real. I know, since I was that parent. It is of little comfort to realize that the contempt with which the DOE treats us parents is not much different than that with which they treat our kids. The lack of respect with which the students were treated by the safety officers, as witnessed and described by people I spoke to, was appalling.

Nothing said in the above account, however, should be construed in any way as criticism of the Van Buren administration. Quite the contrary, I have been extremely impressed with the way the school handles their own security. I have observed the AP in charge of school security on a few occasions, and, as I told him today, his way is the antithesis of the way the scanning operation is run. As he walks through the halls, he is appropriately tough when necessary, but he always seems respectful of the students. I am sure that the sort of response he engenders goes a lot further in keeping the school safe than the intimidating, humiliating attitude of the scanning process. The DOE would do well to study his methods rather than those of the likes of Emomali Rakhmon.

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