At one point, the city authorities felt it was time to end the riots by bringing in the Tactical Police Force to cool the ardor of some of the protesters at George Washington
High School. The TPF, in their blue helmets, stood shoulder to shoulder, their nightsticks at the ready, against the four walls of the student cafeteria in which it was not uncommon to have chairs and milk containers sail through the air. While the TPF was there, all was quiet. Of course, the police couldn’t stay permanently, and students still kept getting beaten up and abused in the name of civil rights, in other parts of the building. In the New York media, the teachers were the enemy, their union the foe, only minority
administrators would be sensitive enough to deal with the minority students,
the rioters and their “community” accomplices were the downtrodden minority
while they kept the school in chaos.
Peace was finally restored when the Dominican students, who had been the victims in many of the altercations with the black students, decided they’d had enough. They broke up desks and other school furniture, and ringed the school with their improvised
clubs. It is at that point that the black students realized that they were not in a predominantly black school, but that they were in a Dominican neighborhood, and that there were a great many Dominicans, with improvised clubs at the ready, outside, just waiting for them to come out of school. It was then that the black students also realized they would need the help of their “racist” teachers to make it home by way of the nearest subway. And so teachers organized these worried students into small groups and marched them unharmed through the crowd of waiting Dominicans, to the nearest subway, and that ended the demands for a table, for integration, or for anything else. Peace was restored. The Board of Education, in its divine wisdom, appointed an observant Jew to be the new
Sam Kostman, the author of Barron’s Regents Exams and Answers: English, was either our sixth or seventh principal of the crisis. I had lost track somewhere along the way of how many principals we’d had, but he was a ball of energy, single minded about the rule of law, and proud of the fact that he fraternized with his students when he ate his tuna fish sandwich lunch every day in the students’ cafeteria. Actually, he was an interesting supervisor, as each day he would observe four teachers at work in their classrooms, write
out in longhand lengthy reports, and then have his secretary type them up. He impressed his supervisors at the Board of Ed by his energy and close supervision of his staff, and when he was appointed superintendent of Queens high schools he continued this practice. This in turn got him fired for being detail obsessed and insufficiently sensitive.
All this was brought to mind this morning when I read about the “qualifications” of the new head of the Education Department in New York City, which poor as they are, are actually better than those of most of his predecessors of the last forty years.