Saturday, June 11, 2005


They mightn't know how to read and write properly but they will learn that black is beautiful

City high school students will be required to take a class in African and African American history to graduate, a move that education experts believe is unique in the nation. The requirement in the 185,000-student district, which is about two-thirds black, begins with September's freshman class, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Thursday. The yearlong course covers subjects including classical African civilizations, civil rights and black nationalism, said Gregory Thornton, the district's chief academic officer. The other social studies requirements are American history, geography and world history.

Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, an advocacy group for big city school districts, said Philadelphia appeared to be in the forefront with such a requirement. "Courses on the subjects are offered as electives in other cities," he said.

Some parents opposed requiring the course, including Miriam Foltz, president of the Home and School Association at Baldi Middle School. "There are other races in this city," said Foltz, who is white. "There are other cultures that will be very offended by this. How can you just mandate a course like this?"

While acknowledging it would be better to have courses adequately reflecting all cultures, district officials said African and African American history had been neglected too long. "We have a whole continent that has been absent from most of our textbooks," said Paul Vallas, the district's chief executive officer.



Ramon Cortines had become chancellor only two months before Giuliani won office. He had come from San Francisco, where, as manager of the school system, he had earned a reputation as a low-key and competent, if administratively limited, leader. The system Cortines inherited in New York, however, would very likely have been ungovernable even if he was a great manager. The Bureau of Supplies, for example, was known as the Bureau of Surprise, and contract bid-rigging was a common practice. Local school boards operating with considerable autonomy had control over not only the hiring of everyone from principals to cafeteria workers but over millions of dollars in contracts as well. For the local boards, operating mini-political machines, education became secondary to the patronage and contract possibilities offered by the schools. Even principalships were offered for sale.

The schools chancellor didn't have to answer to the mayor, but rather to the Board of Education. The district superintendents put in place by local boards didn't have to answer to the chancellor. And the school principals, who were tenured, didn't have to answer to the superintendents. Teachers, who were largely tenured and protected by an extremely favorable contract, didn't have to answer to the principals.

Trouble between Giuliani and Cortines began early in the new administration, following an extended meeting between the two men focusing on the city's dire budget problems and the need to cut back the Board of Ed's Byzantine bureaucracy: When Cortines left the meeting, he savaged Giuliani before the waiting press.

Giuliani responded with a withering blast in his State of the City Address. He noted that, from 1980 to 1992, spending on administration grew twice as fast as overall schools spending, and asked to what end. "The Board of Education has countless — thousands of administrators — there are so many that the chancellor has formed a search committee to find and count them," he jibed to laughter and applause. Before the month was out, Giuliani seemed to have won a major victory when Cortines said he had "discovered" a lost continent of more than 3,500 Board of Education employees long hidden within the bureaucracy. It turned out the board had twice as many employees as Cortines had claimed. On the same day, the chairman of the City Council education committee revealed that in the midst of the fiscal crisis, the city's 32 local school boards had spent $2.2 million on conferences in Hawaii, Las Vegas and Puerto Rico.

Dissatisfied with the limited cuts Cortines had been willing to make, Giuliani appointed a political ally, former Rep. Herman Badillo, to investigate the Board of Ed's finances. Seeing that appointment as a vote of no-confidence, Cortines threatened to resign, saying, "My integrity is not for sale." The political establishment that had been shaken by Giuliani saw an opportunity to strike back by rallying around the chancellor's ire. In the words of one experienced Democrat, "Anyone with a hard-on for Giuliani got in their whacks." The mayor's "bullying style," his budget cuts, and even the way he looked, became objects of opprobrium. Parents' organizations and the press turned on Giuliani with a fury; he had few defenders.

His critics assumed they had Giuliani cornered: He could not, they reasoned, begin a politically harrowing search for a new chancellor so soon after the bitter fight required to select Cortines only a half a year earlier. But the mayor got some much-needed help: Gov. Mario Cuomo and City Council Speaker Peter Vallone stepped in and negotiated a compromise, under which Badillo would remain in place to oversee the Board of Ed's finances, and Cortines would rescind his resignation for the time being.

Ultimately, fiscal pressures on Giuliani would make his relationship with Cortines untenable; in September 1995 the chancellor would quit for good. A year earlier, though, he had come around to acknowledging that community school boards were "patronage mills" and that the system for repairing the schools was broken beyond repair. He took to wondering out loud why an $8 billion system was still using textbooks that described the Empire State Building as the tallest in the world.

At least one local politician admitted off the record that Giuliani had been proved right: Almost $2 billion had been cut from the school budget with no discernible effect on students' educational performance. But, he added, there was no way he would make that argument to his constituents, many of whom were convinced that the mayor was a racist who cut the budget to harm black and Latino children. And, in fact, when Cortines quit, polls showed the public backed him over the mayor by two to one.

While hardly helpful to his own cause, Giuliani's attacks on the Board of Education did benefit his successor, Michael Bloomberg, by setting the stage for the board's elimination and for direct mayoral control of the schools.

More here


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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