Title Slate: WNET/Thirteen. The Eleventh Hour. Title: School Board Elections. Show #175. Length: 26:46. Rec. Date: 5/01/89. Dir.: Andrew Wilk.
Countdown over slate
Funding for the show by announcer. Charitable orgs overlay the Eleventh Hour graphic.
Host Robert Lipsyte in studio sitting at his desk welcomes viewers to the show and introduces himself.
Lipsyte talks about tonight's program, the importance of the New York School Board elections taking place tomorrow. He explains that Chancellor Richard Greene's visions of reform which were backed by the muscle of the Serrano Law, which would have ended the corruption and patronage, was ruled unconstitutional. This ruins his vision of change and challenges his election.
Lipsyte announces Chancellor Greene as tonight's guest but first cuts to a segment highlighting a poort and struggling School District, #14, Williamsburg/Greenspoint.
People handing out fliers in Brooklyn and talking to passersby telling them not to forget to vote..
African American lady in white raincoat and holding umbrella reading lime green flyer.
African American folk, many holding umbrellas, and wearing raincoats talking with lady handing out flyers.
Candidate for School Board #14, Joseph V. Stefanizzi, sitting in his office talking with unseen interviewer states that there will be many people not even aware there is an election.
Woman picking fruit and vegetables from fresh market stand in Brooklyn, pan out to School Board Election poster attached to pole with names of candidates:
Poster on pole to vote for Joseph V. Stefanizzi for Community School Board 14, Vote #1 Stefanizzi.
Another large poster attached to a pole on the street, The Greenpoint, Joseph V. Stefanizzi, Michael Laskows, Thomas Kennison, Peter Dellaiacon, Jesus Nieves Jr. - School Board 14 Vote, Tuesday
Talking heads, two overweight women, talk with unseen interviewer about the importance of voting in the school board election.
Young Spanish man with big bush of black hair and zebra jacket, on the street, talking with unseen interviewer, with translation, states". I really don't know what elections because i'm not informed at all".
Patrons at fast food restaurant sitting in booth with trays of food, man being handed flyers
Parked Car with megaphone announcing school board elections.
Young Spanish girl speaking with unseen interview about how "mysterious" the school board elections are, nobody knows anything about them, including who, what, where and when.
Yellow legal pad with pencil, red/white/blue round flags and School Board Election District 14 pin
Rendering of a map of the borough of Brooklyn Community School Boards, District 14 highlighted in orange.
Parked school bus, doors open, kids getting on. Narration by Robert Lipsyte
High School boys playing basketball in school court yard.
Little kid in red sitting on windowsill looking over fire escape of apartment building.
Exterior storefront of spanish grocery store, car parked in front, man at door smoking a cigarette, awning "Cold Cuts - Fresh Eggs.
Peds walking down street in spanish neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York
Hassidic Jewish man holding the hand of small child walking down the street.
Large banner handwritten in hot pink "UNITED PARENTS TO SAVE CHILDREN"
Pan out from banner to group of parents and school board nominees seated at table with parents and community activists in the room
Talking head Spanish woman, Claribel Lozada, Candidate, United Parents Slate talking about being concerned about her children's education.
Children playing on swings and slide in a city concrete park
Election poster with head shots of candidates: United Parents to Save Our Children. #1 Claribel Lozada
B&W photo still, long term superintendent, School District #14, William Rogers holding a mic. Lipsyte narrates the objective is to get rid of him
Luis Garden Acosta, Chairman, United Parents speaking with unseen interviewer about having a high school drop out rate in their district of 80%.
Brother Robert Lally, Incumbent School Board Member talking with unseen interviewer about what a great educator Superintendent, William Rogers is, no nonsense and gets things done.
Newspaper headline "Unwise Wall in Williamsburg" overlays B&W photo stills - Lipsyte narrates about the incident 3 years ago where the Superintendent and Lally put up steel doors in a mostly Hispanic school to separate 400 Hasidic girls from the rest of the students. He states that the doors became known as "The Wall".
Newspaper headline "School Program Assailed as Biased" overlays the B&W photos and Williamsburg headline. Lipsyte narrates parents boycotted and the wall came down.
Wide shot of parents in a meeting sitting at long table scattered with papers, with huge hand drawn pink sign hanging on the wall behind them, "United Parents to Save Our Children"
Pan parents seated at long table, Lipsyte narrates about a wall separating the School Board from the parents due to disagreements on the drop-out rate and bi-lingual support staff.
Hispanic man from United Parents in split screen. with incumbent Brother Lally, disagreeing on the topic of a bi-lingual support staff.
Another split screen with female hispanic parent and Brother Lally discussing the large drop-out rate. Lally has no answer for it.
Talking head, Diana Rivera, Voter Participation Project, speaking with unseen interviewer about a candidate forum where only 5 of 14 invited candidates showed up.
Wide shot meeting room-could be school auditorium or gym, people seated on folding chairs, table in front of room facing audience. Lipsyte narrates.
Audience on folding chairs appluading.
Hispanic woman holding flyers and teen girl walking down the street, approach woman
Hispanic man, Luis Garden Acosta, running for election seated at table with woman, B&W photos of him scattered on the table, talking with unseen interviewer about the difficulty in getting people to vote.
Same hispanic woman and teen girl handing flyer to older African American woman urging her to vote in District 14.
Clips of var. talking heads outdoors talking to unseen interviewer answering question about reasons they are voting.
Hasidic Jewish children playing on the monkey bars at a city park (Brooklyn).
Little Hasidic Jewish boy riding his three wheeler plastic bicycle down the street.
Brother Robert Lally talking with unseen interviewer about his chances of reelection being very good.
Chairman, United Parents and candidate, Luis Garden Acosta, speaking with unseen interviewer about the long battle ahead, but feels they have a chance and could win despite the odds.
Back with host Robert Lipsyte in the studio, he announces his interview with Chancellor NYC Public Schools, Richard R. Green coming up.
The Eleventh Hour graphics.
INTERVIEW OFF-SITE W/RICHARD GREEN.
Robert Lipsyte 9:13
Tomorrow is the school board elections. And it really seems that among other things, you know, your reformist vision is sort of on trial to it's important to you or are we over playing it?
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 9:26
I think you're over playing my reformist vision. If decentralization is going to work, New Yorkers have to come up to the plate and vote in this election. And so people really value the opportunity for grassroots participation, control of governance, involvement in children's education, their vote, they set out this election. Unfortunately, it will be a message that won't be a very good message for the city.
Robert Lipsyte 9:51
But what's happened to me other places that I've lived, the school board elections have often been more important than the mayor or the council and people really knew at the schools where the future was the most important part of their lives.
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 10:05
Well, frankly, through the 1980s, I think you've seen a variety of changes in urban communities. Surely, we would like to see more people participating and the fact that fewer people participate in a number of elections. I think you're right that historically where children have been, people have said that's important. There may be a message that people don't trust the system any longer won't trust a system won't give the system another chance. I frankly, think that's not good enough, where the late 1980s So instead of being underplaying or overplaying, people just need to get up and go out and vote and participate and make a difference in the lives of children. That's my vision.
Robert Lipsyte 10:45
Yeah, but you have a kind of a rare overview. New Yorkers are very often very provincial, you see how things have worked in other places? Is something intrinsically different here. Do people care less about children? Are they more cynical about how their government works?
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 11:03
Well, New York's a very sophisticated city made up of a great deal of diversity is a constant motion in this city, people still come to this city with long standing hope that the life will be better a New Yorkers that have been here historically that were born here, they have their view of the city when it was great strong at two baseball teams, and championship basketball teams, and expected a lot from the schools. And they are somewhat devastated from time to time, those citizens when they see the schools and the shape that they are given their previous experience. So but I think this constant motion is something we need to always value, and the schools have a strong role to play. And I just don't think citizens if they don't trust the schools can give up on the schools. And if the schools don't make it, the city will not have made it and it won't be because one person made a difference. It'll be because we agreed that this was our time. And at the issues where the city is so important in terms of its children, that to have the view that I just don't care any longer is not simply appropriate.
Robert Lipsyte 12:07
It is it sounds terrific. But it really sounds it kind of for a more middle class, homogeneous school system, not a school system that so wracked with poverty, with so many single parent families, where the parents are so young and uneducated themselves. Or maybe out working and not able to help the kids.
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 12:07
I think you're absolutely right, that there's the middle class will devalue, that that's one of their strong values, education. But I also believe that that's a strong value among all groups, including those who are not, do not have a sufficient economic base. Throughout the history of this country. When school doors were open to people who are different or being closed down. The system could not speak English, they would walk miles and miles, they would make possible the educational opportunity. Those values are still available. And I don't know it's I have not I've yet to meet a parent who says I don't care about my child's education, and don't value it. So I think we need to continue to build upon those strengths
Robert Lipsyte 13:11
And yet, such a small percentage of those parents who pay lip service to that will come out and vote have become involved.
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 13:18
I think there's an accountability issue in New York City about decentralization, which is a 20 year question which we tried to answer with the Serrano Bill, which as you remember, last week, we had a problem when a judge intervened and said that the Serrano Bill was no longer constitutionally appropriate for the moment, although the election is going forward. There is a 20 year history here that we're trying to overcome. I embrace decentralization, I don't believe I can manage the school system to a single office. I think there's a ways in which you embrace people. But if they don't come inside the door, as you just described, it is not going to work.
Robert Lipsyte 13:54
And you're not going to succeed.
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 13:57
No one will succeed. It's not a single issue. We're talking about a city, we're talking about a nearly a million kids. And so it's not just a question of the chancellor, it's a question of the city, the community, the values,
Robert Lipsyte 14:10
the fact that they found the serrano law unconstitutional for now is kind of a glitch in your master plan. And in a sense, you're back to square one in the attempt to make this thing work.
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 14:26
The election is going forward. By July one, our appeal will have been heard. We simply have to reduce out of the New York schools any notion of conflict of interest. It's a laudable goal. Life is not that easy. We realize that there is no way that we're always going to be free of conflict of interest, but to reduce it down to a level where people will believe they have a chance. That's our mission. And I will not rest until we accomplish that mission, either through new legislation or through the judicial system. And so we've just begun to fight
Robert Lipsyte 14:58
whether that I mean, that's really got to be Part of it. I mean, the serrano law seemed to purge the system of the political hacks the people who were really didn't care about the communities that they were supposedly serving. And and that was a real billboard to people, uh, hey, it's business as usual, the system's not going to work for me, why bother reading?
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 15:18
Absolutely. And that's why we're not going to be comfortable until we resolve that. And there's going to be a lot of options that come out of this experience. So believe me, we're on first base right now. And the ballgames a long ways away
Robert Lipsyte 15:32
in looking around for scapegoats, education, public education in the city has always been one of the handiest scapegoats when anything goes wrong. Wow. They didn't educate the kids properly. And nobody is handier than fire the coach, and you're the coach. I don't this case. But I mean, even even something like the kids going wilding. You know, the cop said, some of them are illiterate. Those Those boys were, you know, kind of not getting the hope and the possibility in the school, whether that's true or not, that's always that kind of that easy answer, that it's ultimately going to be laid at your doorstep, that you weren't powerful enough, you weren't enough of the cheerleader. You didn't talk to the press enough.
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 16:16
Those are all cosmetic issues that have nothing to do with anything that affects the lives of children. And if those things had been working, the New York wouldn't be in the shape that it's in. If you're asking about accountability from the Chancellor's view, I am in New York City to be accountable. So I don't think there's any question that you and every other citizen have a right to, to question whether or not the policy decisions that I am promoting, and whether or not the decisions that I'm trying to make for the city of New York is appropriate. I think a report card on the Chancellor clearly is an appropriate thing to do
Robert Lipsyte 16:48
would you give yourself a mark?
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 16:50
No, I don't get into that. Because once again, I don't think that has any real value.
Robert Lipsyte 16:53
You brought up the report card.
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 16:54
Well, you brought up the accountability issue about scapegoating. And I put it in the context of whether or not a single person ought to be evaluated. I'm saying yes, I have no problems with that. Do I think that that makes for a more effective school system? The answer is absolutely not. I think that that is a part of the cosmetics of community. And if that is a part of the culture, so be it. We're talking about substantial involvment and engagement, as you described earlier, about low parent participation in a decentralized school system. I don't think that can be talked out, I think that has to be acted out. And I think it's acted out because people care. And you keep telling them if they don't care, their children are at stake in the city's at stake. And that's where I stand,
Robert Lipsyte 17:33
you're making the parents of the city accountable.
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 17:36
They're a part of a team approach, on which the future generation is going to stand wherever there's gaps, students are going to fall through the foundation. And when they return back to the general community, we won't like what we see
Robert Lipsyte 17:50
Talk about other elements in that chemistry teachers. You've talked about the professionalism of teachers, the symbolism of your ending, teachers, punching a time clock was pretty powerful. But what happens after that what happens when they come in earlier or later to do what they're supposed to do?
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 18:07
Teachers have always worked long hours and committed their life to an education and to a profession, other people's children, low pay made a major contribution. In addition, in New York City, because of the size of the city, you need a time clocks. I'm trying to build a more trusting organization, they have joined me, we are now at the point of talking about accountability. Sandra Fellman and others sit around a table are talking about how to make our performance better. And to that extent, I think that you'll see the next wave. The continuing wave is to improve our performance to be accountable for children when they're in school, but not in isolation from community that is our theme.
Robert Lipsyte 18:47
How do you make teachers better?
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 18:49
In terms of the teachers who aren't performing successfully, I said, give them a lot of support, a lot of help. And when you judge a system after they've had a lot of support and a lot of help, all things being equal. If they aren't performing, then they can't be in the classrooms in New York City. I don't think that that's really a radical statement myself. And I think the teachers union, those interested in the profession, the quality of life in our schools would agree that inappropriate people should not be around children.
Robert Lipsyte 19:16
And yet you have criticized so so quickly, for not making a snap decision when Barnwell the principal involved in drugs. It was first reported. You said I have sympathy for him. You didn't just throw them out of the school?
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 19:30
That's correct. I don't believe that, simply because Mr. Barnwell was a person who really had the label educator, that somehow he was to be judged differently in in the in the justice system, he was charged. He's in court right now. That process is applicable to every American citizen. If you were listening to the arguments, what is it specifically that they wanted me to do with Mr. Barnwell?
Robert Lipsyte 19:54
They wanted you to make some sort of immediate gesture when
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 19:58
gestures are not what you do to your employees, you don't treat employees with gestures, you provide them with the same kind of constitutional protections that all other citizens are provided with including due process is they would be in court. In terms of his sickness, if he was involved with drugs and crack, he ought to be treated simply like every other individual. He could not be around children. He was suspended from his school, he was removed from his school. And I was hoping that as one human being to another, that he would get the treatment to try to restore his life. I think it's the same thing he provided for recently a television commentator and one of the major news organizations who I have a lot of respect for. And I didn't see how those individuals
Robert Lipsyte 20:36
Who is not dealing with children on a day to day basis.
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 20:38
Right, and Mr. Barnwell has not either that's why he was removed immediately. But people seem to confuse those things. And the question in this society, because drugs are such an important part of whether we're going to be successful, is how are we treat those who need help? Well, we simply isolate them to some island, ignore them. We've had a series of people in the educational community now that had been arrested for allegedly purchasing drugs. They're away from children. Now. We hope that they're getting assistance. They won't be back around children, including Mr. Barnwell, unless there's evidence that supports that that ought to happen. If they violate the contract of the system is highly likely they won't be back in the system, because the contract provides for other alternatives for people that are that are convicted of drug possession. For those that said, we want some symbols, I'm not in the business of providing people in terms of symbolic gestures just to meet to the public hue and cry about an issue.
Robert Lipsyte 21:34
Yeah. Well, New York is a city of hype. And with all due respect, Richard Green has been a bit of a Mr. Beige. I mean, you haven't gone out to the rooftop screaming and yelling as a lot of, you know, political people would be I mean, you've got something to say. And you said it in classrooms. You said it to small groups you said it to parents, but you haven't said it, you know, to the throng
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 22:00
That isn't true. And whether it's been heard. I've had major presentations in the 14 months that I've been here, and the throngs everywhere from the Abney breakfast with the standing room only. That isn't true that I haven't had that message. It's true. And I don'e believe...
Robert Lipsyte 22:15
Well you might be giving the message, but you haven't been getting the kind of distribution.
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 22:20
Well, that's that's a different kind of question. It is true. I don't spend my time on the on the on house tops shouting, because I found in examining New York over the last 20 years, that hasn't been a productive experience in improving the quality of life for the city. And I think it's a great city with much hope. And I'm very honored to be the Chancellor of the New York schools.
Robert Lipsyte 22:39
Yeah. Well, but I mean, you came in your your inaugural has been described as a coronation.Yeah, you scripted it.
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 22:49
I said, No, it was not my discription
Robert Lipsyte 22:51
You didn't script it. It was a magnificent coming. And as certainly your vision, your reformist vision is a very exciting and very important vision.
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 23:05
Do you know that if we don't educate this generation of students, there won't be a New York City? Do you know that formerly, America was able to look to other parts of the world to help it with its labor force with its citizenship, it note those places no longer have the huge numbers of immigrant population are in new immigrant population will come from the Caribbean. There'll be a Haitian Creole and Latino in South America, Southeast Asia, Asia, if we don't get a handle on the management and development and valuing of life in America, by this group of students in our schools today that we won't have a future. It is something we should be very serious about. And my commitment to you about not being involved with the hype is a seriousness that if we fail with this group, we won't have a future.
Robert Lipsyte 23:55
Do you think we're getting a handle on it?
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 23:57
No, I think that, that the, I think we're still on trial. And that means that I'm still on trial. And I think the children deserve that we have some conclusion. I see a lot of support in New York City. And you'd be surprised from the graduates of the school system that I crisscross with every day, who's somewhere in life, they went to New York school, they're pulling hard to make this school system work today. And so there's a lot of hope, doesn't always get to the front page. And that's all right with me. But if you're running what's in the heart and a nerve and the sinue of people in New York City, they frankly want the schools to work and I think that's a good sign.
Robert Lipsyte 24:34
But what are they doing for you? I mean, how do you sense this is just a gut feeling of yours? Are people coming to you with money and programs and ideas? What are they doing?
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 24:43
They're coming with money program ideas, but I have not moved on any, any quick fixes for the New York schools and that's why I've been trying to take measured steps that will have some lasting effect because I don't think it can be a momentary effort to school fixing the schools are going to take a long time. 15 billions dollars. In the meantime, we have to provide education whether those schools are fixed or not. And to that extent, I'm trying to maintain a hope and deal with some of the short term issues. overcrowding in some districts is a major issue. We're trying to look at a different way to manage overcrowding, either by going to the year round school, or double shifts, or
Robert Lipsyte 25:20
Year end, year round school?
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 25:22
Year round schools in order to try to accomplish something. But these are not short term fixes. And it's going to require some thought, there's a lot of people want wanting New York to work. And I hope that as you go around the city with your program, you'll talk to some of those people, because I've been very impressed.
Robert Lipsyte 25:39
I hear you saying to us to the press back off, give me more time.
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 25:45
Never, I never tried to tell the press a certain thing. All I'm suggesting is what my style is, I can't, I can't, I wouldn't even begin to suggest to the press what their mode, modus operandi ought to be.
Robert Lipsyte 26:00
Well, a part of the modus operandi is to say Chancellor Green, what have you done for us lately?
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 26:05
And and all I can say is I'm trying to be the best possible Chancellor that is ever served you. There's been some great ones in New York City. But really, the test in New York City is not what happens in the chancellor's office, it was happening in the classroom to the city. My job is to try to make that happen more effectively. And I hope you see signs that that's attempting to occur first with the school board election on May 2, which we are here talking about at this very moment. And secondly, holding parents and students accountable, because they do represent a future.
Robert Lipsyte 26:36
Now as spring emerges, what are the what are the little buzz we should be looking for? What are the signs of hope in the system?
Richard Green Chancellor NY Public Schools 26:46
Well, I haven't seen any major reduction of dropouts in the year that I've been here. I didn't think it was a lot. It was a short term issue. But you would love to have seen some, some movement in that area. On the other hand, we started night school this year, just a month ago, starts on Sunday night goes from Sunday to Thursday, if we're going to replicate it in other communities, because 150 kids showed up immediately over the age of 16. Some parents already are looking for options reforms in the school system this year. We hope that the quarter program that we're proposing to bring communities together, community based organizations together to keep the schools open from seven in the morning to seven at night, which will be ongoing by September. We hope that you look at the development of that program. Summer School for first graders and kindergarteners second year around expecting 18,000 kids. We think there's some good things occurring throughout the system. And we just hope that we have enough breathing space to make people trust the system.
Robert Lipsyte 27:43
Well, we'll let you breathe. Chancellor green. Thank you very much for being with us. This is the 11th hour, I'm Robert Lipsyte.
Interview concludes. Host Lipsyte announces program and introduces himself. Show end.
Show credits over show graphics.
Funding by announcer. Charitable orgs overlay The Eleventh Hour graphics.
Description: The Eleventh Hour - Show #175 Title: School Board Elections Guests: Richard R. Greene, Chancellor New York City Public Schools Description: Conversation with Chancellor Greene about the upcoming elections. Original Broadcast Date: 5-1-89
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