Slipper Award for the recent Louisianarnlegislative session and had to choosernbetween Representative John Travisrn(Democrat, Jackson) saying, “I can’t believernthat we are going to let a majority ofrnthe people decide what is best for thisrnstate,” and Representative CynthiarnWillard-Lewis (Democrat, New Orleans)rndeclaring, “This amendment doesrnmore damage than it does harm.” Keeprnworking at it, Bulgaria.rnWillidm Mills is a novelist and poetrnwhose latest work of fiction is Propertiesrnof Blood. Photographs were taken by thernauthor.rnLetter From NewrnYork Cityrnbv Nicholas StixrnThe War onrnWhite Teachersrn”It’s a new day, and a new way!” exultedrnAdelaide San ford on television in earlyrn198S. A black supremacist and memberrnof the New York City Board of Education,rnSanford was the candidate forrnschools chancellor of the Reverend AlrnSharpton and “activist attorneys” AltonrnMaddox and C. Vernon Mason (both ofrnwhom have since been forced to leavernthe law), the same three men who laterrnthat year brought us the Tawana Brawleyrnhoax.rnRita Altman has learned just whatrnAdelaide Sanford meant. A white teacherrnat P.S. 80 in Jamaica, Queens, Altmanrnwas accused in December 1995 of havingrncalled one student “a fat nigger” andrnothers “a bunch of niggers.” Denyingrnthe charge, Altman survived a District 28rnschool board vote last March 4 and arnthreat by Chancellor Rudy Crew to firernher and remove the board, after Crew’srninvestigator (contradicting the board’srnfindings) supported the charge. ThernReverend Charles Norris, the head ofrnQueens Clergy for Political Awareness,rnhas confessed that it doesn’t matter tornhim if Altman really said the N-word. Asrnhe told Newsday reporter Merie English,rn”We’re not going to sit still and have thisrnteacher just get away with what allegedlyrnhas been said. Whether it’s true or not,rnher effectiveness as a teacher has beenrndamaged. I low is she going to teach effectivelyrnin any school where studentsrnwill be whispering, ‘That’s the teacherrnthat used the N-word’?” Reverend Norrisrnhas vowed that his group will huntrnAltman down at any school to which shernis transferred, and prevent her fromrnteaching.rnWe may never know what really happenedrnin Rita Altman’s classroom onrnNovember 30, 1995, but we do knowrnthat the comically improbable chargesrncame a full week after the incident supposedlyrnoccurred. At P.S. 80, white facesrnare few and unwelcome. White, NewrnYork public school teachers do not usernracial slurs, and are paranoid about thernperception of having said anything, howeverrninnocuous—even in private conversationsrn—that could remotely be construedrnas being “racially insensitive.”rnMad Altman used the epithet, she wouldrnhave needed a police escort out of thernbuilding that day. Yet, it took activists—rnincluding black teachers suspected ofrnhaving framed Altman—seven days torn”revive” the children’s memories. Thisrncase cries out for a civil rights investigation.rnLast June, United Federation ofrnTeachers (UFT) Spokesman Ron Davisrntold me that charges of white teachersrnusing racial epithets (as opposed torn”showing racial insensitivity”) are exceedinglyrnrare, and cause for automaticrndismissal; union policy is to supportrnmembers who deny such charges.rnThe March 4 school board meetingrnwas attended by the Reverend Al Sharpton,rnand about 70 “activists” whomrnRobert “Sonny” Carson had broughtrnfrom Brooklyn. Convicted kidnapperrnCarson has led violent “boycotts” terrorizingrnKorean greengrocers, and inrn1991 helped incite the Crown Heightsrnpogrom. Conservative Democratic ClubrnChairman Jeff Wiescnfeld and anotherrnwitness said that despite having been desertedrnby the UFT and all local electedrnofficials, Altman bravely argued that shernhad been denied due process. Wiescnfeldrnsaid that Carson’s supporters “calledrnthose teachers who came in defense ofrntheir colleague ‘white Jew bitches,’ andrnsaid ‘They should blow up more of yourrn[Israeli] buses.’ To me, this was ‘ery similarrnto the Tawana Brawley hoax. Our issuernwas that at any given time, just byrnrabble-rousing, you can be falsely accused.rnThere have been problems allrnalong with people who have deeply resentedrnthat white teachers teach blackrnchildren. That there are people like myselfrnwho had black teachers seems to bernof little consequence to them.”rnThe Rita Altman case continues a traditionrnthat began with the Ford Foundation-rnfinanced experiment in “communityrncontrol” in Ocean Hill-Brownsville,rnBrooklyn. On May 7, 1968, District AdministratorrnRhody McCoy summarilyrnfired, without leveling any specificrncharges, 12 experienced white teachers,rnone black teacher, and six white administrators.rnThe firing provoked New York’srnlongest teachers’ strike. (McCoy later rescindedrnthe dismissal of the black teacher.)rnAs Jim Sleeper noted in his book ThernClosest of Strangers, the community controlrnseparatists became known as “peoplernwho won’t take yes for an answer.” Beforernthe strike, McCoy ally Sonny Carsonrnhad used his street soldiers to terrorizernwhite teachers. In her book The GreatrnSchool Wars, Diane Ravitch quoted thernReverend C. Herbert Oliver, the schoolrnboard chairman working with McCoy,rnthat “we were talking about hundredsrnof [white] teachers in Ocean Hill-rnBrownsville alone.” The firing of the 12rnwas a mere opening act. The whiternteachers’ jobs were to be given to uneducatedrn”community people” and parents,rnand Southern black and Puerto Ricanrnteachers who lacked New York State Certihcation.rnRavitch recalled McCoy’s announcementrn”to the press that unspecifiedrnvigilante action would prevent thernousted teachers from working elsewherernin the city: ‘Not one of these teachers willrnbe allowed to teach anywhere in this city.rnThe black community will see to that.'”rnMeanwhile, McCoy introduced the sortrnof Afrocentric, “self-esteem” curriculumrnthat today is holy writ in many (oftenrncorrupt) failing districts. Celebrating illiteracyrnand innumeracy as expressions ofrna “black learning style,” Afrocentrismrnteaches that all black children are thernproperty of the “African” communityrn(“it takes a village”); as a racially inferiorrnforeigner, no “European” adult has thernright to correct or discipline a blackrnchild. During the strike, McCoy keptrnthe schools open, as inexperienced blackrn(and a few well-to-do, young whiternMarxist) ideological shock troops continuedrnto teach. McCoy insisted that duernto enhanced self-esteem, pupils’ performancesrnhad risen dramatically. Howev-rnMARCH 1997/39rnrnrn