“The silence of New York’s elected officials to the plight of the predominantly black and Latino students of the ERSD is an example of political cowardice in the extreme. Profiles in political courage have been in extremely short supply. This silence is especially deafening since the damage to the district is so severe that Harry Phillips, the Rockland/Westchester/Putnam representative to the State Board of Regents, recently decried that the school district was “shafting the public-school kids.” ~ Michael Borgiorno, Former Rockland County District Attorney
Unless you reside under one of the famous rocks that give Rockland County its’ name, by now you have heard about the deconstruction of the East Ramapo School District by their own School Board members.
Nothing but lip service and photo opportunities are all that the parents of these kids receive from their elected public servants for years now. Let’s set aside all of the rhetoric about the ethnic make up of the student body and the religious ethnic composition of the school board. Let’s look at it from a strictly political and everyday Joe on the street.
Clearly, the town’s political authority, as a body, has not taken any political action on behalf of the students, because the evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. Clearly, as a body, the county legislative authority has not taken legislative steps to set things aright, because the evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. Clearly, the former County Executive administration over the last 20 years, stood idly by as there is no evidence to the contrary.
News reports, you-tube videos of abusive behavior by the Board members directed at parents, the only advocates these kids have by virtue of moral authority, abound and cannot be denied because the evidence is overwhelming.
In one dastardly act of pure cowardice, masquerading behind the false bravado of sewer-like language, worthy of an industrial-sized bar of mouth soap, did one school board attorney direct language too vile for a locker room at a diminutive mom who was simply sticking up for her special needs kid at a public board meeting.
The toxicity at these school board meetings could have set off warning alarms at the Indian Point nuclear reactor because of the out of control ‘radioactive levels’ generated by the contempt that board has for the students they are charged to care for, and indifference to the concerns of the parents. who entrusted them with that care.
So, who does care? Apparently, nobody but the parents. In the face of this reality, these parents have earned a carte blanche approach to protect their kids from harm by any means the moment calls for, free of legal prosecution or editorial criticism. This is not to be misconstrued as advocating for violence. This is a septic environment that decades of conflict study predict violent outcomes, unless there is a resolution equal to both sides. In this case, that is not likely if the current conditions persist. Without intervention and rescue, the stronger side will prevail over the weaker and we suspect which is the stronger side is now clear.
In the art of diplomacy, the practice of conflict management means diplomacy has failed once the conflict has been engaged. The conflict can be managed towards a resolution that will favor one side over the other or destroy both sides equally. The East Ramapo School conflict in this protracted state promises only one winner, in this case, both the school board and the students will lose.
The quiet benefactor of the carnage appears to be the East Ramapo real estate speculators and their cash buyers. The primary component to the real estate investors in the home buyer/seller market is the reputation of the school system. Reputable school systems make for desirable real estate areas and valuable home sales.
Conversely, destroy the school system and you destroy the real estate market in that district. The fear of plunging real estate values drive home owners to abandon the school district and flee the area, selling their homes to the first qualified cash buyer, who makes a low ball offer that is too often accepted.
This phenomenon is observable in the Town of Ramapo and measurable in the East Ramapo school district. Real Estate agents conducting open houses have heard the shrieks of prospects screaming across the house; “Harry, let’s go, this is East Ramapo schools.” The only families interested in buying a home in a dysfunctional school system are those who do not wish to enroll their kids in that school system.
Home owners have told tales of a people, who come to their home and make them cash offers, only to negotiate a low ball figure. This drives down home appraisal, and the cycle of depressed real estate property in Ramapo.
So, if this was the intended outcome by voting in a school board with the possible agenda of destroying the school system, it is working. If the intention was to improve the quality of education for the current student body, and improve real estate values, then that has failed. It can only be one or the other. Draw your conclusions based on the outcomes.
The management of this conflict has all of the emotionally charge elements that drive a wedge between communities and violence is a projected by-product. Religion, children’s education, home, hearth, real estate investments, and the over all feeling of being cheated, abused, then ignored by the authorities in their political and legal offices paid to protect these specific rights and defend against these particular abuses, are the seeds that will lead to deepening divides.
This is an explosive situation and the fuse has been lit. The East Ramapo School board has single handedly deconstructed a viable school system and depressed the local real estate market. In effect, this is ‘shafting’ the people and students with a disregard for their human needs with respect to education. The legal authorities and political public servants in essence are telling them, to suffer on quietly while they watch from afar.
Well, if violence happens as a result the Grand Jury in the court of public opinion should decline to prosecute on the grounds of self defense. It does not take a trained conflict resolution manager to see how emotionally charged and dangerous this situation has become. This is a warning. As the former Rockland County District Attorney quoted Mr. Harry Phillips, New York State Board of Regents who referred to the East Ramapo School District: “the school district is shafting the public school kids…”