By Sam Pirozzolo | January 14, 2015
In the eight years I’ve been advocating on children’s educational issues, I’ve seen a lot — but nothing to compare to Mayor de Blasio’s latest shocker.
The Post this week revealed that the mayor’s Department of Education hired Elif Gure-Perez, the former principal of PS 316 in Brooklyn, to head its Office of School Improvement.
She’s in charge of supporting 14 struggling high schools — with majority black and Latino students — in his $150 million School Renewal Program.
Yet, as The Post reported, a jury had found Gure-Perez liable for yelling at her parent coordinator, “Get out of my office, you n - - - - r, get out!” The city will be paying $110,000 in damages. And there seem to be many other substantiated accusations and pending cases against her.
Yes, a Manhattan federal court found Gure-Perez guilty of creating a “hostile race-based work environment” months before Mayor de Blasio appointed her to a racially sensitive position.
Can you imagine de Blasio allowing similar hiring at the NYPD? Isn’t this the mayor who won office promising to stick up for the rights of minorities?
Sadly, the list of racist attacks against African-American staffers and parents in the city’s public schools continues to grow. I’m involved in another recent case where elected parent leaders were called, “Two black monkeys working together.”
Other incidents I’m aware of include threats of physical violence, and other cases where police reports have been filed.
Unfortunately, City Hall and the DOE’s Tweed-building headquarters have instructed school and district leaders to keep quiet on these issues.
Can you imagine that? Mayor Bill de Blasio, the supposed champion of minority people, covering up racism in NYC public schools? Apparently, while he’s set on stomping out racists in our police force, it’s OK if they’re in our schools.
It just doesn’t add up.
At a time when about 70 percent of New York City public school children can’t read, write or do math at grade level, our mayor has come out in praise of our teachers and the job that they do.
Yes, teaching is a very difficult profession, and some teachers don’t get the respect and pay they deserve.
But the reality is that the schools are failing a solid majority of our children, and have been failing for generations. The system must be broken somewhere, Mr. Mayor — and here’s a hint: The problem isn’t simply poverty or parents.
Contrast his approach to education to his treatment of policing — where he’s begun a complete overhaul of the NYPD aimed at addressing concerns that the police treat blacks and other minorities unfairly.
In his first year, we have seen a mandatory retraining program for all police officers, the end of stop-and-frisk and of arrests for “low level” marijuana offenses. A pilot program putting body cameras on police officers is set to begin.
In comparison to his unprecedented steps to demand more respect for minorities from the NYPD, he has given the schools a free pass for failing to educate schoolchildren, mostly black and Latino, for generations.
This, when the teachers union is still majority-white. Of course, it does give big campaign donations.
Why isn’t de Blasio demanding a revamping of our school system? Or putting body cameras on teachers and administrators to hold them responsible for their interactions with the students and the public? Why no demands for increased educational productivity?
Yes, it is a Tale of Two Cities, Mr. Mayor: One city for those you favor, and one for your foes. Race and racism have little to do with your actions; if any color does, it’s the color green.
Sam Pirozzolo is a Staten Island parent, former president of Community Education Council 31-Staten Island and vice president of the New York City Parents Union.
Read Sam’s op-ed on the NY Post website at https://nypost.com/2015/01/14/a-tale-of-two-de-blasios/