2011-02-11 / Editorial/Opinion

Who’s Embarrassing?

May Michael Bloomberg lashed out late last week at the 2,000 people who booed and chanted during a Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) vote to close 22 schools, including Beach Channel High School. He called their disruption, “embarrassing to the country.” Bloomberg was angry during his weekly radio speech, and he showed it. “This is not democracy, letting people yell and scream,” he said. “It’s embarrassing for New York City, New York State and America.” There are many, however, who believe that it is the mayor who is embarrassing teachers, students, parents and, ultimately, all the citizens of New York City. United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew made his point when he said, “It is clear that Mayor Bloomberg has the same idea of democracy as Hosni [Mubarak]. For him to bring up democracy, any-thing about democracy when speaking about the PEP panel meeting is beyond hypocrisy. The last time the PEP panel said the mayor was wrong, they were all fired by the mayor, who picked them in the first place.” He is right. Ever since a new panel was chosen by the mayor – he gets eight representatives and each of the borough presidents gets one – it has acted as a rubber stamp for the mayor and the chancellor. It has never once voted down a school closing – or any other significant policy made by the Department of Education. We have covered many of the community meetings held to discuss the closing of Beach Channel High School. At each one, a representative of the PEP was present. That representative listened to speaker after speaker call for more resources and another chance for the school. They listened, but they did not hear. Those meetings, and the one held last week, were rubber stamps, preordained votes at a time of financial instability, when real education becomes even more important. Bloomberg and his rubber stamp PEP should be embarrassed, not those who were fighting for the continued existence of a valued community resource.

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