Darlene Federowicz
Gurnee, Illinois

It's elementary

Re Andrea Gabor's "Primary Directive" [November 9–15]: As a former teacher at P.S. 50, I find Gabor's description of the school's culture before the hiring of the current principal Mitchell grossly inadequate. Gabor made no attempt to contact former principal Lyle Walford and give him the opportunity to offer his view of the events leading up to the change in leadership at the school.

Having worked with Walford in two schools over a period of four years, I feel compelled to disprove some of Gabor's statements. She inaccurately states that "discipline was lax; pupils were as likely to be roaming the halls as sitting in their classrooms." Walford successfully implemented standard guidelines, such as the use of passes and logbooks in every classroom where appropriate. I remember approximately five to 10 students out of over 600 as habitual hall roamers. Gabor ridiculed the viewing of films at P.S. 50, most particularly SpongeBob videos. I found her description of the films we showed our students incomplete. Had she researched further, Gabor would have known that SpongeBob was aired for pre-kindergarten through third-grade students. Older students were shown films such as Once Upon a Time . . . When We Were Colored, Separate but Equal, The Rosa Parks Story, and many others . To her credit, Gabor touched on an important issue that impacted both the students and community of P.S. 50: the replacement of a successful, Black male principal with over 30 years of classroom experience with a white woman with less than 10 years of teaching experience. Gabor chose to present this issue by using the classic stereotype of pitting the strong Black male against the innocent white woman. She states:

"Walford, who is black, was a 'black power' kind of guy, according to one parent, while Mitchell is a white woman." The issue is the removal of a successful and competent administrator who grew up in the same neighborhoods as the students and shared similar experiences. Walford, a native New Yorker who grew up in the South Bronx, was replaced by a woman from Florida whose firsthand experience of East Harlem is at best limited. The most troubling aspect of this article is that those inadequate parents who have the most invested in P.S. 50 will most likely never read Gabor's article, as they do not represent a viable constituency for The Village Voice. Rather, the Voice has chosen to placate its primary constituency with a flawed article about a dedicated white woman swooping in to save Black and Hispanic kids from inept Black leadership.

Brendan Lyons


Due to an editing error last week in Kristen Lombardi's "Hillary Is Your Friend," three references to a firefighters union were wrong. Senator Clinton's first press conference with the city's bravest was with the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA). The source who said the idea of Clinton as a friend "had to be beat in our guys' heads" was from the UFA. And the meeting at which she was reportedly booed last year was for UFA members.

In last week's Press Clips, the name of New York magazine's Mark Jacobson was misspelled.

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