School Board 18 Blasts Idea
Of New "Centralized" Districts
By Nicole G. Ray
In an October 28 "Town Hall" meeting members of Community School Board 18 blasted the idea that a "centralized" board would be taking over at year’s end when the current boards will be replaced by Community District Education Councils.
The new councils will consist of eleven members, nine who are parents of children currently going to local schools, a non-voting high school senior, and another member chosen from the community.
Abu A. Q. Abu, the current president of Community School Board 18 said the meeting, at P.S. 244 on Tilden Avenue, was called to "alert the public that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to take things away from us." Abu questioned the reasons as to why school boards are only being replaced within New York City and yet, throughout the rest of the state, the boards will remain active.
Abu called the mayor "a dictator," adding "He wants to keep all the power for himself."
Lloyd Roberts, vice president of Board 18, said the new district board members are "selected not elected," adding,"these new boards would have no checks and balances" as they were no longer appointed by members of the community, and instead would feel greater obligation to Chancellor Joel Klein.
"They will not be communicating with the real grass roots people," Josefina Johnson, a board member said. "What is the point of having all these distant people who would not be close to the school and the community?"
Though the turnout for the meeting was small, due to a "mix-up" with distribution of flyers, one member said, those who were at the meeting when allowed to speak, did so. At one point someone shouted from the back "accountability," while another person was speaking on the floor.
Susan Goodstein, a member of Community School Board 22 and the Republican candidate for City Council who lost to incumbent Lew Fidler in Tuesday’s election, said, "Throwing money at the school does not really do the job. It has to be targeted. Parents have to be vigilant, the administration has to be vigilant and teachers have to be vigilant. I feel that parents are disenfranchised at this point. The parents have to have someone to speak for them. We need people from the parents’ perspective, not the chancellor’s."
Robert Lewis, a member of District 16 said "We cannot be begging for favors when it comes to our children. We have to have community control. Centralization will not work. It’s unhealthy for the democratic system."
Theresa Williams, a parent who came from Lower Manhattan to attend the meeting, and who is actively involved with children in her neighborhood public schools, said, "A lot of these kids out here are crying for help." Her son, she said, had to be sent to private school as she felt he was not getting the care he deserved within the public school system.