Power of Ten Update
Special Edition: Bond Vote December 6
There will be a vote on December 6 to approve spending $60 million for renovations to school buildings and grounds. A YES Vote will benefit the children.
The NY State Education Department has responded to the NAACP request that they oversee the process. They say it is their “intent to provide the oversight and technical assistance to ensure the project is a success.”
While it is reassuring to hear that NYSED intends to do its job, the NAACP letter also expressed concerns about a repeat of past abuses by the school board.
In recent years the school board has closed and sold two public schools (Hillcrest and Colton). They did this despite increasing enrollment and over the protests of educators and parents. At the time, one school board member said “buildings do not educate children.” The buildings that they deemed excess and converted to yeshivas were the only two that were not on the state list of buildings in need of repair.
Pressure to convert public schools to yeshivas has not abated.
There is massive pressure from developers to create segregated neighborhoods that require infrastructure including non-public schools. According to the lawyer for one yeshiva, there is competition with residential builders for land, and “the pressure is intensified” when the East Ramapo school district hasn’t “sold any of its sites as surplus.”
Why vote YES?
The children need well functioning buildings. Passing these resolutions will result in better school environments for our children.
Yes, the school board could turn around and try close a newly renovated building, and sell it to their friends for pennies on the dollar, but we cannot allow ourselves to descend into hopelessness and despair.
Public school advocates now include: Strong East Ramapo, Padres Unidos of East Ramapo, Rockland Clergy for Social Justice, We The People, The NAACP, Advocates for Justice, East Ramapo Underground, and more. Elected officials at the local, state and national level have become involved. The school board has earned national and even international notoriety for their callous treatment of children.
In short, now is not the time to give up hope!
ONE MORE THING:
Each year, when the school budget comes up, voters where the majority of students go to yeshivas vote NO for the public school budget. Will they vote YES for the renovations? Are they hoping these buildings will one day be converted to yeshivas, like Hillcrest and Colton? How can they vote down money for teachers, and allow it for buildings, while at the same time we are told “buildings do not educate children”?
Despite this apparent hypocrisy, we must offer ALL the voters a chance to support BOTH sound schools buildings AND the educational programming they need to complete their education and be college ready.
The next vote will be in May. Superintendent Wortham must offer a budget that is based on the students needs. Just as ALL the voters are expected to support building renovations, ALL the voters should be expected to support quality programming. That includes small class sizes, collaborative classes for special needs, business classes, vocational classes, advanced placement, as well as support staff such as social workers, guidance counselors, etc.
These are needed for our children. There is no such thing as someone else’s children. They are all ours. They are our future. They are your legacy and mine, together. If there are some who don’t see it, we still can’t walk away from it. Thanks to all of the Power of Ten readers, I know there are many public education advocates working for justice in East Ramapo.