By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
What did Joel Klein say to that—and what does his response reveal about his understanding of democracy?
"I think," said the Chancellor, "the process was robust. We literally met with thousands of people who expressed their views. We heard them, and in the end, we disagreed."
They disagreed because these irreverent views didn't follow the script. Joel Klein once promised me that he would bring civics classes back into schools so that students would know what it has taken in the history of this country to keep securing actual democracy throughout this society. I don't know the extent, if any, of his restorations of civics education. But his faithfulness in following Bloomberg's orders to exclude, as the judge said, any "meaningful community involvement" in the attempted closing of the 19 schools, shows his aversion to essential democratic participation in keeping a number of those schools meaningful to the very students themselves.
In an April 2 editorial, "This Time, Listen," the New York Times advised: "Instead of dismissing the lawsuit as an act of sabotage by the teachers' union, which was party to it, the city officials should be building bridges to the parents, community leaders and the angry state lawmakers who joined this suit out of frustration with the city's tactics."
What would you say are the odds that this autocratic mayor even knows—as the Times reports (March 27, 2010)—that "12 of the schools scheduled to close this year received a grade of 'proficient' in their last city quality review"? Or that many students and parents were stunned at the termination of such effective programs as the one "devised for mothers and pregnant teenagers at [the] Paul Robeson High School that offers day care and teaches parenting skills"? Too bad the resounding Paul Robeson isn't around to help the mayor shape up.