2003-12-19 / Columnists

School Scope

DOE School Policy: Crime Off The Street And Into Schools
By Norman Scott
School Scope By Norman Scott DOE School Policy: Crime Off The Street And Into Schools

We hear daily reports of chaos going on in many schools with regard to security. Take whatever you read in the press and multiply it by about a thousand. After all, much of the mainstream press has supported the BloomKlein "reforms" which have resulted in schools being stripped of their safety net. Why worry about assaults on teachers, who are viewed as the major enemies of change? In today’s climate, if teachers are assaulted, it must be their fault.

It seems that no matter what a kid does, he or she is back in the school practically in seconds. Recently, an incident occurred at Far Rockaway HS where a student had to be handcuffed and arrested.

It so happened that on that day Chancellor Joel Klein, Mayoral education assistant Dennis Walcott and UFT President Randi Weingarten were visiting the school. The handcuffing took place in front of the entire press corps.

Later that day, the student’s mother brought him back to school after she bailed him out. He created another incident and had to be arrested again. Of course the press corps was long gone by then.

After ignoring pleas from schools since the beginning of the school year, the DOE and Mayor Bloomberg finally began to respond. What caused this response? The danger to children and staff? Not at all. They only responded when the press finally began to report on what was going on. Policy by publicity.

UFT leader Randi Weingarten said: "It has been no secret that teachers have been raising these issues for weeks, if not months. But I give the mayor, Joel and Dennis Walcott a lot of credit." What a crock! I give them no credit. Maybe a point or two for responding to political pressure. They have no more interest in the welfare of children and teachers than they ever did. Just wait ‘till the furor dies down.

At the City Council hearings held by Eva Moskowitz on UFT work rules, when she finally allowed teachers two minutes to say their piece, one of the most effective speakers was Greg Lindahl, Chapter Leader at Washington Irving HS. As he detailed cases of victims being forced to take safety transfers because their attackers were back in the school almost immediately after assaulting them, Moskowitz actually flinched as if blows were raining down on her. That reaction didn’t last long. She seems to be investigating everything about the schools but the security issue. But then she might have to assign blame to BloomKlein instead of teachers. Apparently not a good move politically. Moskowitz is an avid supporter of the BloomKlein "reforms".

The entire press corps was there for Lindahl’s testimony. But there wasn’t much written about his testimony at the time. The story finally made headlines when Lindahl organized a massive protest outside the school that was attended by students, teachers and parents. As long as only teachers are getting assaulted and protesting, the press doesn’t seem to care. But when students are the victims and actually make it a point to join their teachers in protest, then there is a perking up of interest. Look to see more of these demonstrations taking place.

Here’s a facetious conspiracy theory as to why students are back in schools so quickly after causing an incident. If left to roam the streets there might be a rise in street crime. How would that look politically for the mayor? So why not send them back to the schools where records of crimes they commit can be more easily hidden by the information blackout instituted by the DOE? Here’s a slogan for the next Mayoral campaign: We took crime off the streets and brought it into the schools.

Would the Mayor actually let politics interfere in the making of sound educational policy? Nah!

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