Over the last several months the efforts largely organized by the Community Education Task Force of which the Green Party of Monroe County is a member, has continued to organize and fight to defeat the legislative proposal that would eliminate the elected City school board in favor of an appointed body governed by the mayor. One of the primary concerns of the proposed change is that the citizens of Rochester would no longer have the right to vote for their own representatives. This change would have profound effect on all City voters but especially on the African-American and Latino populations given their significant population in the City district. In addition, such a move would be in conflict with one of the prime values that of grass roots democracy held by the Green Party.
Public Hearing testimony regarding the proposed legislation was conducted by the Assembly Education Committee on Friday June 18th at City Council chambers. In addition, to the chair of the committee, both Joe Morielle (D) and David Gantt (D) supporters of the bill were present. At one point in the hearing Assemblyman Morielle demanded that this writer stop making statements linking money interests to the dismantling of public education in the form of privatization. At another point Assemblyman Gantt took offense that my referring to the Mayoral Control legislation as racist comparing it to historic efforts to colonize African countries. The arguments then were relied on the assumption that people of color were not able to govern themselves.
Members of the CETF went to New York City over the weekend to participate in speak outs and meetings with the key Democratic sponsor in the Senate, Malcom Smith who represents New York city. There are no Senate sponsors from the Rochester/Monroe County area. The vote up or down may come soon but the inside word is that it is unlikely to make it in this session. The opposition is vowing to re-asert their efforts to pass it next session.
The Task Force has begun to work on the process and principles to pursue addressing the attainment of what would encorporate the needed changes with the current system. -Bonnie Cannan