Black marks for schools chancellor on trip to Williamsburg

Black marks for schools chancellor on trip to Williamsburg
Photo by Helen Klein

Gee, thanks, boss.

Hours after Mayor Bloomberg announced on Monday that 4,600 teachers would be laid off due to budget cuts, Schools Chancellor Cathie Black took her roadshow to Williamsburg, where she was verbally assaulted by nearly 200 seething Williamsburg parents and teachers.

Speaker after speaker took issue with Black over virtually all of her and Mayor Bloomberg’s educational agenda:

• On layoffs: “Our teachers — they’re not from Teach for America — these people grew up in this neighborhood, went to school here, and stayed here when on one else would,” said Brian DeVale, principal of PS 257 in Bushwick. He argued that good principals know how to get rid of bad teachers without layoffs from on high.

• On priorities: “This is an agency with a $22 billion budget — we should be trying to find savings in there somewhere,” said Councilman Steve Levin (D–Greenpoint).

• On charter schools: “I’m upset by the lack of community schools,” said Williamsburg parent David Dobosz. “We now have a mayoral dictatorship of schools. This is not what the law intended.”

To her critics, Black repeated what she has often said when under fire: “I will work day in and day out as your chancellor,” she said in her opening statements at the “town hall” meeting at JHS 71 on Rutledge Street. “We will work with the best of our abilities to solve our financial problems.”

DeVale had another problem with Black — she wouldn’t take his teddy bear.

Yes, the principal showed up with a gift for Black: a bear that he said was in honor of President Teddy Roosevelt’s dedication towards civil service.

“It’s ironic that [mayoral control of schools] is now trying to destroy civil service,” said DeVale. “She wouldn’t take the bear.”

Principal Brian DeVale wanted to give Schools Chancellor Cathie Black a teddy bear to encourage her to preserve teaching jobs. She did not accept the bear.
Photo by Aaron Short