Students at Francis Lewis High School in Queens attend classes in an overcrowded building designed for 2,800 students, the enrollement is 4,200 today. Overcrowding at the high school one of the issues on the agenda students wanted to discuss with the incoming Chancellor Cathie Black. But she never showed up to the press conference or meeting on Thursday, December 9th at 7 AM at the school. They are among the brightest and academically talented ethnically diverse students in the New York City Schools.
In a NY1 video student leaders said, "Students are lacking in inspiration at a time when they need it most."Others cited how"students...who live in ...bad neighborhoods who want to go to their zone schools...forced to leave because of violence." And they want to "...understand what it is (Cathie Black) plans to do about issues ...within...the school system." They just "want to know her plan." Still others like Khaair Morrison say, "Students are in the classrooms students see the budget cut first hand."Violence in the schools, the school budget cuts, school closings, as well as disparities in the curriculum and college prep other issues and concerns they listed on the flyer.
Instead of meeting with the student leaders, the NYC Department of Education said the Chancellor could not attend their meeting. Meanwhile, she visited mostly elementary schools doing photo op with the pre-school and kindergarten children unlikely to ask her any critical questions.
The parents in June this year received a letter from Joel Klein, NYC Schools Chancellor about the up-coming budget cuts and the more "shared sacrifices" the students have to continue making. What would Francis Lewis (1713-1802) say to the students? He signed the Declaration of Independence active in the Revolutionary movement, a likely leader of the New York Sons of Liberty, and member of the NY Revolutionary committee that later had helped to set up the State government.
Or the great African-American abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass (1817-1895)words:
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation…want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters…. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."Frederick Douglass, 1857