I have been told that presently the NYC public school system has close to 1.25 million students. I am also told that only around ten per cent of these students are white; and that the vast majority are Negro and Hispanic; with significant East Indians and other Asians: in other words black and brown, and yellow, and red all over.
I have also been told that often times when white-male mayors select white-male school-chancellors, these chancellors usually have to obtain a waiver from the State Education Department since they usually don't meet the qualifications mandated by law (for the position). Another thing I have heard is that whenever you find designated-chancellors who are black or brown-skinned (like Quinones, Green, Cortines, Alvarado, Fernandez, Crew) that they are usually impeccably qualified; in no way needing any special dispensation relative to experience, credentials or qualifications. I want folks to ponder this for a minute; ponder it deeply and see what it tells you: many white ones need waivers; the non-whites don't. Why is this?
When we evaluate education in NYC over the last 50 years, we have to objectively conclude that educrats have failed our kids: especially the minority kids. The vast majority of them have failed to graduate from high school with a regents high school diploma. A significant number of them drop out of school before graduation. Another huge number graduate to prison cells and a lifetime of recidivism. It's only a minority who go on to college and graduate: a small minority. So is there any wonder why we are getting our collective asses kicked by education systems all over the developed world?
Look; whenever I write columns about that nasty little topic called “race” (or better yet racism/or racialism) the level of discourse I anticipate or hope for, usually falls flat. Whenever I write about reverse-racism in blacks, or racial-denial in whites, or the color-complexion issues within Hispanic communities, people tend to shy away. It's unpleasant to deal with issues around race: and that's so unfortunate; since the best ways to resolve any issue are by acknowledgement, acceptance, determination, resolve and confrontation.
Long before Mayor Bloomberg nominated Ms. Cathie Black for school's chancellor, he had nominated Harold Levy and Joel Klein. Both Levy and Klein were white men who didn't hold the legal qualifications for the job. And by legal qualifications I am talking about the mandated three years teaching experience, the pre-requisite education courses, the administrative course work and experience, the exams/tests to be taken, the educational licenses, and the demonstrated ability to function within public and/or private school setting(s).
These qualifications (standards) didn't appear out of thin air. They were placed there by educators and bureaucrats, who knew very well, the challenges a NYC chancellor faced. Both Klein and Levy obtained waivers; and both Klein and Levy were “qualified” failures at their job. And by “qualified” I mean that beyond minor successes, they both failed to revolutionize education in this city: despite big bucks and big support. Lifting test scores a few inches isn't the only change that's needed. Raising the quality of education for ALL kids -regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality or religion- must be the goal. Lifting the graduation rate to near 100 per cent is the ideal. Lowering the drop-out rate to near zero is the change we can all feel, see and believe in.
Look; Mayor Bloomers isn't the first mayor to foist some unqualified white friend (or homey) on us: cynically assuming that minorities -whose kids are primarily affected by these horrid choices- can't recognize an unqualified school's chancellor when they see one. One of my blogging colleagues mentioned one deputy-Mayor (Robert Wagner) being once similarly placed. I am sure research can uncover more than a few names of those white males who were fortunate enough to be someone's friend, or drinking buddy, or golf partner, or fellow bridge-club member, or some kinda fellow polo-aficionado, or something like that.
It's the classic “white-skin-color-privilege thing” happening, that too many are want to deny. It doesn't just happen in education; it happens on Wall Street; it happens in the banking and insurance industries; it happens in politics; shoot, it happens in near all areas of human-endeavor all over the world. Wherever and whenever we have whites and blacks, and browns, and yellows, and reds, and whatever other hues, existing and competing for scarce resources or limited opportunities, we can find this. Much too often, whites with access seem to get further ahead of non-whites with better qualifications, credentials, smarts and experience.
Very very early in his administration, Mayor Bloomers arrogantly said that minority parents don't understand what's going on with education in this city. For me, it was the first red flag thrown during his tenure. He further compounded it when he basically said that poor people have better access to quality health care, than middle class or wealthy people. Then he couldn't understand why so many felt that the Sanitation Department needed to place a waste-transfer station on the upper east side of Manhattan; even though there were zero such stations located there, while the other boroughs had a combined total of around thirty-four. Bloomberg is the quintessential east-side elitist. He thinks that's hip: I think it is disgusting. How come he has never proposed a millionaire's (or billionaire's ) tax levy to help deal with the city's fiscal mess? What about a stock-transfer tax? He is so out of touch it isn't funny. When it comes to the lives and livelihoods of Sly Stone's “everyday people”, Mayor Bloomberg has very limited understanding.
It is said that he wants Ms. Black to succeed him as mayor and as such he has to place her in the chancellor's box as a precursor. If this is true, then this man who felt he had the right to overturn term-limits to impose his imperial majesty on us all, now believes that he knows best as to who should succeed him. It is also said that Ms. Black is the good friend of the mayor's longtime girlfriend, and as such they all want to keep the mayoralty in the circle of good friends and elites. If the speculation here is correct, then I say this: “bull”. This isn't England; or Norway; or Spain; or one of those countries still stuck in medieval times. This is the USA. This is New York: the big apple. Rich white folks don't have a lock on power, decision-making, ideas and opportunities.
I have a suggestion for Mayor Bloomberg. Go read a poem written by the Guatemalan poet named Otto Rene Castillo. It is entitled: “One Day”. In its original language (Spanish) it is entitled “Un Dia”. You see, one of these good days, folks like Bloomberg and his ilk, will be begging for compassion from John Major's “ordinary people”. The same people they superciliously despise: since that's the only explanation for some of these decisions made by elites like Bloomberg. Elites don't believe regular folks matter. They don't believe that regular folks are relevant. The French revolution didn't teach them much: it couldn't have.
Stay tuned-in folks.