Was the Fix In?

December 22, 2015

Every once in a while the curtain goes up by mistake, and the dirty politics that are ordinarily hidden are revealed.  It looks like Thursday’s news conference called by Rockland county legislator Aaron Wieder and New York State Assemblyman Dove Hikind is one of those times.

Their surprise and indignation that Dennis Walcott, the former New York Commissioner of Education, had “stabbed them in the back” seemed genuine.  As reported in The Journal News, Hikind had “told the community that Walcott could be trusted, noting they had worked together.”  No wonder they were upset!

School board President Yehuda Weissmandl had rolled out the red carpet for Walcott.  The East Ramapo School Board had finally fired its ugly and discredited legal counsel and its racist superintendent of schools.  And it’s my guess that Weismandl had assured Walcott that the board would stop spending millions of dollars a year on ill-considered lawsuits against the New York Department of Education.  The board had moved public discussion at meetings to a civilized hour, instead of after long executive sessions.  It had even hired a Black female superintendent of schools.  Wasn’t that enough to demonstrate to Walcott that the East Ramapo school board had finally developed a commitment to public education? 

When Hikind said that “Walcott could be trusted...” Did he mean that the fix was in?  Did he believe that Walcott would ignore almost a decade of mismanagement and worse by the East Ramapo School Board?

Public school leadership had suspected all along that the fix was indeed in. They wondered why Walcott refused to meet with the community’s more militant leaders, or even to answer the questions they sent in by email. Was Walcott just playing possum?

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s approval rating has recently plummeted to a record low 38%. Many believe he is corrupt and they know he has contempt for teachers. Will increased scrutiny of his school policies make it harder for him to sit on his hands while another school monitor bill goes to the state legislature?

Robert I. Rhodes, Chairman, Preserve Ramapo

You can read the complete 32-page report from the State here.