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The Internationalist
  June 2017

Anti-Communist Witch Hunt
in NYC School

The following article is reprinted from the Class Struggle Education Workers website,

For the past several months, the Office of Special Investigations of the New York City Board of Education has been conducting an ominous “investigation” in the Park Slope Collegiate school in Brooklyn. The principal, Jill Bloomberg, and four teachers are charged with communist organizing in the school! This is a throwback to the McCarthyite witch-hunting of the 1950s when over 1,100 teachers in the New York City public schools were investigated and close to 400 were fired or forced to retire over accusations of communist associations. People asked, how could this be happening in this day and age? But it is, and it has to be fought tooth and nail.

The OSI is a sinister cabal that goes after teachers the administrators want to get rid of. Its specialty is framing educators on sex charges of the sort that tabloids like the New York Post feast on. Bloomberg has long complained of segregation of NYC schools. She was singled out because of her official complaint to the D.O.E. in January of race discrimination against the girls’ basketball team on the John Jay HS campus. Although New York schools are the most segregated in the country, according to a 2014 study by the University of California, Los Angeles Civil Rights Project, Mayor Bill de Blasio refuses to use the word “segregation,” instead using the deliberately ambiguous term “diversity.”

The 21st century Savanarolas in Tweed Courthouse (the D.O.E. headquarters behind City Hall) have accused Bloomberg and other teachers of “belonging to the Progressive Labor Party,” an ex-Maoist group (New York Times, 5 May). Yet there is nothing illegal in being supporters of a leftist political group. Nevertheless, in early May a federal district judge refused to grant a preliminary injunction blocking the OSI snooping on grounds that it violated First Amendment rights and the Civil Rights law. So the bogus “investigation” continues.

Parents at Park Slope Collegiate have strongly supported the principal and teachers. They called a rally to defend them on the steps of the DOE headquarters on May 31. Marjorie Stamberg, a delegate of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in District 79 and a supporter of Class Struggle Education Workers, spoke at the rally. Here are excerpts from her remarks:

“I was at the court a couple of weeks ago – that outrageous thing that was called a hearing –and it gave us some education about what the capitalist courts in America will do. We have to defend Jill Bloomberg and stop the McCarthyite witch hunt. The fact that we have a red-baiting witch hunt going on in the D.O.E., the likes of which has not been seen since the Cold War, is certainly connected to what is going on in Washington and it has to be stopped.
“We have another big challenge in front of us, and that is to defend our immigrant students. In my school we have formed a UFT committee of students and parents and teachers and all school staff to defend and protect all of our immigrant students. We say – I.C.E. out of the schools, I.C.E. out of New York! And finally, here we are 60-plus years after Brown v. Board of Education [the landmark Supreme Court decision ordering school integration] and New York City schools are the most segregated schools in the country.
“But how are we going to stop it? My group, Class Struggle Education Workers, thinks it’s not just a question of the schools, not just a question of Trump. I’m a proud member of the UFT and the 100,000-plus teachers. But we need a change in leadership there, and we need to know that the UFT itself was forged in anti-communism, in the anti-communist purge of left-wing teachers in the original Teachers Union.
“So we need a fighting class-struggle leadership in the unions that can bring a revitalization of all of labor. And most important, we need a class-struggle workers party! No support for Democrats or Republicans, because [Obama’s “education czar”] Arnie Duncan paved the way for [Trump’s education secretary] Betsy DeVos! All honor and defense of not only Jill Bloomberg but all of the teachers and students there who are fighting against the sinister inquisitors of the OSI.” ■