Friday, August 21, 2015
The selection of Dennis Walcott to lead a committee that will only advise the East Ramapo school board is a political smokescreen. It is probably also a way to redeem Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the eyes of the Orthodox community after his committee's devastating report about the district's control by a Hasidic majority.
Dennis Walcott used New York City public school funds for public and private charter schools. The result in other New York City public schools didn't differ from what occurred in the East Ramapo school district.
Walcott's advocacy for public school parents ended where Mayor Michael Bloomberg school policies began. For example, when an allegedly failing large high school was closed, those students who did not apply or were not accepted at smaller newly-created high schools were transferred en masse into another large high school, causing that school's achievement statistics to fall. It created a domino effect to implement a policy to close large high schools. Appeals to stop that practice fell on deaf ears.
The practical solution, if Walcott were still the organizer on which part of his reputation rests, would be to enroll parent voters and get a positive election participation and result.
Until that happens, "local control" will be what it is. A committee like Walcott's can't supersede the school board without legislative approval.
This committee is a sop to that portion of the community whose children are being educationally disenfranchised. Makes for a big story but is, after all, a smokescreen for no change at all.
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