Interview with Albert Shanker

And how did you find out about this, this action by the governing board?


I received a phone call from, ah, one or two of the teachers who had, ah, the teachers got letters in their boxes. And, ah, one of the teachers got the letter but it was meant for someone else, but he happened to have the same name, and they said, "You got the letter, you're the one who's being transferred," even though the wrong person got it. By the way not all the people who got these letters were White. The majority were White but there were a number of Blacks among them. Ah, but we have, ah, since the purpose of pushing them out was punishment, it was really, "We're either firing you or this is a punitive, we don't want you. You're no good, so get out." Ah, our answer was very simple, "Look, we live in a democratic society and if somebody, you claim that somebody's done something wrong and ought to fired, those people have a right to due process. They have a right to arbitration. They have, first of all they have a right to know why. Why do you want to get rid of these people? What are the reasons?" We got no answer. Once you get the reason why, you take it to a judge or you take it to an arbitrator and say, "Okay you present your case and these people present their cases, some impartial person makes a decision." But the, ah, Rhody McCoy and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Board, said, "No, we're not giving any reasons. We have, we have total power. We have total community control. We have, we're going to do this. We're not going to let anybody else listen." Well, from my point of view, this is, ah, you know, in any other part of the country it would have been called mob rule, ah, taking the law into your own hands. And if somebody says, "Look, I'm going to fire you or I'm going to shoot you or I'm going to do this. I'm not telling you why and there's no court and there's no jury and there's no appeal or anything else. I'm just telling you," and that's, that's, ah, that's what I was faced with there.