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Editorial: Crisis in District 29

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At that time, a C-37 committee that included a representative from every PTA in the district and other community leaders was formed to conduct a search for a new chancellor. The committee has submitted the names of five candidates, all of whom had more experience in running schools than the chancellor, but Levy has rejected the entire slate. He has asked the committee to reconvene and begin the interviewing process from scratch. And he has not made it clear why none of the candidates recommended to him were suitable.

No one can blame the people who have volunteered to serve on this committee if they are open about their frustration. One also has to wonder if the chancellor truly appreciates the importance of community involvement in running the public schools.

Levy was a vice president at Citibank. He has proven his ability to manage in the corporate world and, for the most part, has succeeded in working with the powerful interest groups involved in the public school system. But he has stumbled badly in District 29. It stands to reason that if you ask people to conduct a search, then you should respect the integrity of their effort.

Since the search began, the district has been shaken by the arrest of Miller for alleged bid-rigging. Miller has been charged with accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks for awarding a contract to bring computers into her district. The arrest has shaken the confidence of parents who continued to respect Miller even after she was removed from office.

Levy will meet soon with the search committee. It will not be easy to convince them that they have his support. At the very least, he must make it clear what he is looking for in a new superintendent. The children and their parents need stability in this district and they need it fast.

Price of democracy

While the lawyers in Florida fight over which presidential candidate will get the state's crucial electoral votes, we are reminded in Queens of the terrible price that has been paid for our democracy.

On the Sunday before Election Day, two black teenagers going door to door in a get-out-the-vote drive in Oakland Gardens were beaten by a group that shouted ethnic slurs. The two victims were treated and released at North Shore Hospital. Two Hispanics, one teenager and the other an adult, were arrested and charged with assault.

It is deplorable that in the year 2000 idiots are still willing to beat someone because of the color of their skin. This has every appearance of a hate crime and there is no doubt that the district attorney will vigorously prosecute the alleged attackers.

But we prefer to focus on the example set by the dedicated young people who gave up their Sunday afternoon to encourage others to exercise their right to vote. The teens were participating in a Get Out the Vote drive sponsored by the A. Philip Randolph Institute. They could have stayed home and played videogames, instead they went to a strange neighborhood to talk with people they never met.

We salute these teenagers. They are the champions of our democracy. In a month when we have been reminded of the importance of every vote, we have a renewed appreciation for the work they were trying to do.

Posted 7:08 pm, October 10, 2011
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