Wednesday, June 17, 2015

When Private Interests Take Over Public Schools

The fight against privatization of public schools is thought to be one against moneyed, hedgefund charter investors who want to make a profit off of our children.  There is another kind of fight against private interest takeover that has been going on in East Ramapo, NY for years, and it is time that it got more of our attention.

About five years ago, the population of Ultra-Orthodox Jews in East Ramapo used bloc voting to take all of the seats on the public school board of education.  They have continually defunded public schools in favor of the private yeshivas their children attend. They conduct closed-door board meetings and do not respond to public outcry. They are depriving the mostly ethnic and impoverished public school students of their constitutional right for a quality education. Over 100 teachers have been cut from public schools, along with other staff that includes administrators, teaching assistants, guidance counselors, and social workers. There are no longer advanced courses in East Ramapo public schools, though there are plenty of opportunities in the yeshivas.  Music, art, sports, extracurricular activities, high school electives, full-day kindergarten have all been either cut back or eliminated. Jewish as well as other religious clergy, civil rights groups, the New York City Bar Association, and others have asked the state legislature to take action.  The Assembly passed a bill calling for state oversight of this abominable and shameful self-interest, but the Senate is sitting on it and has taken no action. I just called Amedore and was assured he will get the message today before the session ends. I made a case that this is segregation at its worst, and why is the state advocating for receivership and state takeover of "failing" schools and giving this district a pass? PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATOR TODAY. This is a civil rights issue and a moral issue.  If action is not taken today we must continue advocating for these students.  

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