Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Yeshiva Students Demand State Intervene in East Ramapo
2. Dr. Wortham Changes the Tone
3. Demonstrations Continue?
4. Strong East Ramapo Action
1) Yeshiva Students Demand State Intervene in East Ramapo
Thousands of children attending area yeshivas are not receiving adequate education. Now, several graduates and parents are seeking the assistance of the court system in ensuring that all children are educated. This action parallels demands for education in New York City and around the world. Indeed, the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 were education activists.
In Pakistan, Malala was shot for trying to go to school. Thurgood Marshall faced a lynch mob as he fought against laws which prevented African-Americans from receiving an equal education. Education advocates in East Ramapo are not facing the same tactics that Malala faces or that Thurgood Marshall faced, but yeshiva families who speak out risk being shunned, punished financially, verbally abused and even physically assaulted.
Education cannot only be for some. According to the Supreme Court, it must be for all. However, in East Ramapo, a political deal was made between the school district administrators and the yeshivas: The district would remain indifferent to the lack of education in yeshivas, and in return school budgets would not be opposed. The result has been destruction of education for all.
Advocates for Justice is bringing lawsuits of behalf of both public school and yeshiva children. They need your support at this time. Will you please help?
2) Dr. Wortham Changes the Tone
The new Superintendent is making friends everywhere with her cheerful attitude. Students have been feeling depressed about all the cuts. Dr. Wortham has made a good effort to increase school spirit. This is not a replacement for restoring programs, but it is a good beginning. For more information about Dr. Wortham see her interview on HNE Network TV.
It is not expected that the board will challenge Dr. Wortham the way they did Dr. Oustacher, with demands to absorb religious schools, create segregated classes, close and sell schools, hire unnecessary or unqualified personnel, file lawsuits against the State Ed Dept. and the Atty. General, etc. As long as the threat of a monitor with veto power is hanging over their heads, they will probably continue to avoid controversy. Hopefully Dr. Wortham will use the opportunity to make improvements.
3) Demonstrations Continue?
There can be no doubt that it was the constant pressure of activism and advocacy that brought about so much change this year. Many of the problems noted in the Greenberg report are being addressed. However, there is much more to accomplish and it would seem that continued demonstrations are inevitable. As we prepare for more activism and advocacy, I am offering the following dialogue between Dr. King and a fellow clergyman of the time as food for thought:
“When rights are consistently denied, a cause should be pressed in the courts and in negotiations among local leaders, and not in the streets.” —Alabama clergymen’s letter to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. April 12, 1963
“You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. … It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.” —From Letter From a Birmingham Jail, by Martin Luther King Jr., April 16, 1963
4) Strong East Ramapo Action
Please join Strong East Ramapo in their call for Dennis Walcott’s report to include strong language calling for a state monitor with veto power that would restore a sense of confidence in the future of East Ramapo. Mr. Walcott’s report is due December 15, so raise your voice today.