It’s been some day, with everyone glued to the TV to watch the manhunt.
But there’s been an interesting development closer to home, in the troubled East Ramapo school district (it may be time to rename the district the Troubled East Ramapo school district).
Daniel Schwartz resigned today as president of the Board of Education.
When Schwartz became president at the start of this school year, he clearly believed that he was the guy to start pulling the district together. He insisted that he did not believe that public school parents really distrusted the school board—dominated by Hasidic and other Orthodox Jews who send their children to private schools.
He seemed to believe that the supposed distrust between the “public school community” and the “private school community” was overstated and that he would be able to lead the district where it needed to go. A lawyer who deals with matrimonial and family matters, he already had experience dealing with divided families.
But Schwartz didn’t seem to get that he had already lost tremendous credibility with public-school parents and teachers and students. The previous spring, when he was vice president of the board, he delivered a long speech about anti-Semitism being the real problem in East Ramapo, rather than the district’s growing inability to offer a quality education to students.
Schwartz compared supposed anti-Semitic comments made to a teacher to the classic anti-Semitic tropes from history books, including those that “paved the way to Auschwitz.” He seemed not to get that parents were angry because of the declining quality of the education their children were receiving.
Schwartz resigned today “due to various personal reasons.” The school district is $6 million in the red and faces an assortment of short-term and long-term problems.
I wonder if he still believes that anti-Semitism is the problem.
By the way, state Education Commissioner John King visited the Journal News on Thursday to talk about the Common Core. But it was very clear that he is aware of day-to-day happenings in East Ramapo and is not at all happy about the state of the school district.
He said that the district is suffering today from past decisions—which can only mean the school board’s desire to reduce spending at every turn.
It’s not clear that King knows what to do about East Ramp. He clearly wants the Legislature to give him more power to intervene in “chronically under-performing” school districts. He said that some legislators are worried about removing authority from school boards members who were elected.
But as King put it: “Ultimately, it is the state that has the constitutional responsibility to ensure that students receive a sound, basic education.”