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More on the Dec 09 Bronx PEP

December 19, 2009 pm31 1:36 pm

I wrote a few things yesterday. Here’s a few more:

As I walked into the building, I explained to my friend that the principal of the host school was my first supervisor. And we turned the corner: “Hello sir!” there he stood, exactly as I’d left him, except for the grey hair.

The man who chaired the meeting did not like the crowd. At several points he threatened to end the meeting, or remove “you” (if you don’t know why there are quotes around the word you, don’t worry, not your problem), or just yelled at us.

The PEP member who seems to have broken first on taking away the Highbridge K-6 school’s 6th grade, it looked like he was a mayoral appointee. But as the DoE withdrew the proposal, this guy turned and hectored the audience:  “they brought facts. we listen to facts, not emotion”  Of course the guy had not yet heard from the people he was insulting – they brought facts as well.

The hostility between Patrick Sullivan (Manhattan appointee) and the chairman, secretary, and several of the other members of the Panel was palpable. At one point the Secretary (a particularly unpleasant man) threatened to cut off a speaker (or all of the speakers? he was fairly outrageous, but I wasn’t taking notes) if the crowd did not sit quiet, and Sullivan pointed out (1) that that was not the job of the secretary and (2) if the chairman did not want to run the meeting, he should offer to resign immediately.

When the panel members had actual questions, the DoE was fairly consistently evasive. On a wasteful contract (almost $5 mil) for on-line professional development, the DoE claimed there would be cost savings. “Where?” a panel member asked, and was given a series of evasive, inaccurate, and deceptive answers. It took about four back-and-forths before the lies just stopped going anywhere and everyone got tired.  On the Logan bus contract, the DoE came close to claiming that the feds said it was good to do business with Logan, but they kept carefully choosing their words so as to imply without actually telling the falsehood.

The Bronx rep was the best. She didn’t ask the hardest questions, but she asked some important ones. Her voting record was better than Sullivan’s (on one vote he abstained, she voted the right way).

The Brooklyn rep provided some needed entertainment as he asked questions, but with his West African accent. The asshole answering (not Best) could not understand, and asked someone else to repeat the question. “I am speaking clearly” the Brooklyn guy said, and he was. And he insisted that no one should repeat his question, that he himself would. And the DoE guy tried to blame the mike, the acoustics (in an acoustically designed auditorium!) and finally he got rescued… But the truth, that he never speaks with Africans and couldn’t understand the guy’s accent…  we all knew that. I recall some audience laughter. [I misguessed his accent – I think his being from Brooklyn caused me to guess wrong. Still, we understood him, the DoE guy did not]

Columbus, my first school, was the best represented. I saw administrators, teachers, secretaries, students. There may have been parents – I wouldn’t have known them. Some were surprised to see me, and some were confused (they knew that my school wasn’t getting closed). But lots of warm hellos and smiles and even at this bad time, that was nice.

The meeting lasted almost four hours.

[several small corrections and updates, 12/27]

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