With just weeks until the new school year starts, Mayor Mike Bloomberg and schools chancellor Joel Klein are working on plans to improve the beleaguered New York City public school system. Radio Rookie Jesus Gonzalez spoke to young people around the city about what they want to see changed.
On the day that Bushwick Rookie Jesus Gonzalez' (and Hunts Point Rookie Janesse Nieves') education report aired on WNYC (August 21, 2002), former Public Advocate and former Mayoral Candidate Mark Green was at a rally with Al Sharpton and Russell Simmons amongst others. This is what he had to say :
MC: We now would like to hear from the former Public Advocate for the city of New York who is now with the New Democracy Project. Let us welcome Mark Green.
MARK GREEN: Thank You. I'm here because of Russell Simmons and Jesus Gonzalez. This morning on the way to work I heard an amazingly important and interesting report on NPR, from what are called Radio Rookies. Young people commenting on issues of the day. Jesus Gonzalez is seventeen and a public school student in Bushwick. And he had what he called a message to Mayor Bloomberg; And Jesus Gonzalez described how he has to share textbooks in his high school with other students. And he said, in his own way, "can you imagine having to share a textbook before a test? Often because textbooks are scarce the teacher will Xerox pages from the textbook for assignments." And then he said "You know, we put these pages in our pocket and often lose them because pieces of paper don't seem all that important to us, and when your studying for a test you often don't have these pieces of paper around because they're not bound into one book."
Look, we can talk about mayoral control and we can talk about budget. All are urgent and relevant. If this city can't make sure that Jesus Gonzalez in Bushwick, and thousands of students like him don't have textbooks, we're failing our students. It's not that they're failing. We're failing them. When I heard this report it was heartbreaking. It's wrong and it's fixable. Either public education is issue number one or it's not. And either coalitions of parents, educators and elected officials band together to make sure kids have textbooks or they won't. So lets start small. I'm not here to debate larger fiscal issues, but small issues. Let's make sure all kids have current textbooks. When we pass that test, maybe the children will pass theirs. Thank you.