Wednesday, October 22, 2014

New Voices Call for Openness, Transparency and Inclusion

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” Martin Niemöller, Protestant Pastor (an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler, who spent seven years in concentration camps)

After reading the above quote, some individuals may question if our current education crisis warrants comparison to the world crisis that provoked this pronouncement.  The answer lies in Pastor Niemöller’s underlying and timeless message - silence in the face of tyranny and cruelty or in today’s situation, deceit, collusion and coercion is ultimately tacit approval and ends up harming the bystander, who looks the other way and fails to speak out.

Last week a group of people decided it was time to speak up, loudly and clearly, in opposition to the actions of the current majority membership of the Buffalo Board of Education, the Interim Superintendent and the Commissioner of Education.  Operating on a “Vision Statement”, which proposes an agenda that turns over our schools to private sector operators, the new majority rammed through several resolutions on October 8th, which asked Commissioner John B. King, Jr. to create an unprecedented third round for charter school applications exclusively for Buffalo.  In response to the Board vote, operating on what can only be described as lightning speed,  by October 10th the New York State Education Department posted a call for “Prospective Charter School Applicant Groups and Charter School Operators – Buffalo ONLY” on its website. To increase the likelihood of numerous applications the State is dangling a potential grant of $750,000 as an additional incentive.

The majority Board members refused to allow time for community input in the decision.  But now new voices are being raised against their actions and their “Vision”.  On Thursday, October 16th, these voices joined in a speak- out about the lack of transparency, openness and honesty.  Led by parents, community members and activists from Citizen Action, P.U.S.H. Buffalo and Alliance for Quality Education, they called a press conference that was held in front of Lafayette High School, one of the targeted schools. They voiced their opposition to decisions made in secret; decisions that excluded the minority members of the Board; decisions that excluded the parents of the District, the students and other stakeholders; decisions that open the District up for private take-over.  They voiced their concern that plans to turn at least four schools, East, Lafayette, Bennett and MLK, Jr. Institute over to Charters will result in a move to privatize more schools in the District ending in fewer resources for remaining schools and students.  And they pledged to call on others to break their silence and turn up the volume in support of our children.  

Yes, we are at a critical juncture….we can’t afford to remain silent or ignorant of the facts while they come for our schools.  Get involved.  Our children need you.

No comments:

Post a Comment