New Board of Ed: The Inside Story

July 2, 2009 (GBN News): A seemingly unsuccessful attempt at a Soviet takeover of the NY City schools was just a decoy, GBN News has learned. At the moment that three elderly Communists conspicuously entered Tweed Courthouse just as Mayoral control was expiring, Mayor Bloomberg was secretly meeting with another shadowy Bolshevik group, plotting a takeover of the newly reconstituted Board of Education. The following account was pieced together through interviews with multiple sources, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of repercussions:

It was a marriage of convenience between a group bent on re-establishing Soviet power and a Mayor desperate to hold onto control of the schools. However, the Mayor and the Soviet group soon realized they had much in common. In fact, it seemed at times as if the only major difference between them was that the Soviets insisted on referring to the Board of Education as the “Politburo”.

The two camps quickly agreed it was vital to insure that the Borough Presidents appoint Board members who would support to the death the Mayor’s policies. Through control of the Board, Mr. Bloomberg could maintain and even expand his control of the schools.

The Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Queens Borough Presidents were known to be in lockstep with the Mayor over school control and were not felt to pose a problem. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, however, was another story. Stringer’s appointee for the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP), Patrick Sullivan, had been a thorn in the side of the DOE since his appointment. It was feared that if Stringer appointed Sullivan to the new Board, he would learn of the Bloomberg/Soviet plot and expose it.

It is unclear just how the conspirators were able to “turn” Stringer, but they were obviously successful; Sullivan was dropped in favor of Stringer staffer Jimmy Yan. J. Fredrick Runson, chair of Political Science Department at Manhattan University and an expert on Soviet methods, suggested one possible explanation. “For someone who’s usually so independent on education issues,” Dr. Runson told GBN News, “Stringer’s talk of needing Board members who are ‘philosophically in tune with the Mayor’, and of ‘maintaining the system’, was so uncharacteristic as to border on the bizarre. In my professional opinion, somebody slipped him some LSD.”

With time being so short, the Mayor and the Soviets were willing, for the moment, to declare Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz a “lost cause”, and keep him out of the loop. But to counter the consequent loss of Board unanimity, they needed a Board President who could control the agenda and stifle all dissent.

All agreed that Dennis Walcott, who had already squandered a stellar reputation by serving as Deputy Mayor for education, was perfect for the job. But the Borough President who appointed him would face conflict of interest criticism by naming a member of the Administration to the position, and such an appointment could even be a career breaker. However, Queens BP Helen Marshall sold out for dinner and an extra term, and within hours, the Mayor’s control of the school Board was etched in stone.

While Mayor Bloomberg seems to have insured continued control of the schools, still unclear is just what the Soviets have to gain from this arrangement. Some political observers feel that the cash-starved Soviets are planning to use Mr. Bloomberg’s billions to advance their cause, and ultimately to overthrow him. As Dr. Runson put it, “This could be a perfect example of the old communist adage, ‘The capitalists will sell you the rope that you'll use to hang them.’” On the other hand, he said, “Educational reform makes strange bedfellows. There could be a genuine ideological agreement here.”
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