When a guy talks about "transparency" 3 times in 3 minutes, I guess he means it.
Unfortunately, that wasn't the issue this time.
What got parents, Acorn and GEM out on the streets twice last week was the grotesque way Moskowitz's Harlem Success Academy pushed its way into public school space.
Transparent or not, what's going on at PS 123 and at other sites is unjust: You don't break up functioning public schools or pit sections of communities against each other for the sake of corporate interests. Stringer didn't go near that issue, which you can read for yourself:
"Today is a very serious matter for school parents and residents of the Harlem community.
"Last week police had to be called to a public school to determine who actually controlled the space. In all my years as a public school student, as an elected official, I just don't remember the last time cops had to come to a school because people were trying to shove out another school for their own benefit and their own gain. This is politics at its worst, and it has to stop.
"Today's tour is the beginning of what I hope will be a coherent process by which we can get our arms around the issue of space, the issue of classrooms, to make sure everybody has the opportunity to utilize these buildings.
"I am quite frankly very shocked that this public school, this successful public school, is basically being pushed aside so that another school can come in and have more classroom space.
"And what's so unfair is that the public school is allowed to have more space — convert the old teachers' lounge, classrooms in the basement — but basically, beginning to deconstruct 123.
"So, I think it's time for us to stand up to this, to send a strong message to the schools chancellor that says you cannot have a policy that is deceitful, that is not above board, that is not transparent.
"And I'm here today [with] somebody I just appointed, my council Jimmy Yan as a member of the Board of Education—[GEM note: He's the one Stringer installed at the new Board of Education instead of re-intalling Patrick Sullivan — the only person who ever stood up to BloomKlein's nonsense at the old PEP. That little shift of personnel was never explained. So much for transparency.]"—and he's here with me today. And we're walking this school, we're gonna check out the classrooms. But, we're gonna make it very clear to the charter school: You are not going to come in here and take over Harlem public schools without making sure that there is a transparent open process.
"And when you hear from parents and local residents, there to remind strangers to this community that people have struggled long and hard to build these public schools, to graduate these kids, to give thema sense of hope and success. And to come into a school and separate people, and divide people, sends the wrong message to our kids, right? And that's something we can't [..?..].
"So, I want to thank the community for being here, for Acorn. Let's do this tour, and let's find out very clearly what's going on inside, and then we'll be able to tell the press, who are outside, exactly what the real deal here is, so we can make this a transparent and open process.
"Thank you all very much."
NY1 showed up again, and we're grateful for the press (see their clip here). Stringer's not really putting a check on the mayor's plans for more charter schools, but according to NY1, he's asking the chancellor to "suspend all activity in the school [and] sit down with the community to discuss their concerns."
Did Stringer really call for a "suspension of all activity" at PS 123? If he did, that's a start, and everyone should keep an eye on this to make sure it happens. If NY1 got it wrong and he didn't actually say that, tell us what he really said.
What you do hear him saying in the clip is: "This is is not about creating a political rally. This is about how we are going to educate all of the children, the charter school and the public school, in September."
One thing's for darn sure. It's a little late for sitting around chatting about September's opening of either school — maybe a year too late.
Here's an update about the next PS 123 meeting set for tomorrow:
Wed., July 15th, 5:30 p.m.
Adam Clayton State Office Building
163 West 125 Street, 9th floor
Read GEM's earlier post on what Councilman Tony Avella had to say at the same protest. It's the way we like it.