Action Report

YELL Youth Education Life Line

Chancellor Rudy Crew has NOT taken any LEADERSHIP in AIDS education.

On Wednesday, June 18th, the Chancellor's office presented a report to the Board of Education on the state of AIDS education in the NYC public schools. This report tried to shift the blame from the Chancellor to the principals of the schools.

YELL activists were there. Here's what happened . . .

Laughter at the Board of Education
by Dan Bacalzo

At the Board of Education Committee of the Whole meeting on June 18, 1997, Chancellor Crew's deputy, Fran Goldstein, led a series of adults and students giving a report on the state of AIDS education in the New York City public schools. We knew their report was narrow-sighted and wrong. They claimed that overall, the Chancellor had a good record on AIDS education and that most schools were in compliance with State mandates. From YELL's own survey of students at a number of different schools, we knew this to be false. In some schools there isn't any AIDS education, in others there's not enough. Some schools teach only abstinence, and some don't make condoms available. Some discourage students who are trying to organize peer education, and other schools don't involve parents. But you would never know this if you just listened to the Chancellor's report.

We knew their little report was laughable. So YELL had bought several "laugh bags" which would emit this loud, annoying laugh whenever it was pressed. At various points in the presentation, whenever any ridiculous claim was being made, a laugh bag would go off somewhere in the room. [Big Security guys would look around perplexed trying to find the source of the laughter.] Kate also piped up every now and again with quick one-liners, questioning or challenging the presenters [sort of "heckle a sharp comment, then quiet down looking innocent when security glares her way" tactic].

The State of New York mandates that high schools teach six AIDS education lessons to students per year. While the Chancellor's report included some students testifying that AIDS education worked in their school, there are many, many more schools where it is not working, and we never hear from those students! Deputy Chancellor Goldstein's report claimed they'd only found one school in violation. (The New York Post reported seven schools were in violation, but I don't recall this being said during the actual report.) YELL's own survey documented at least eight schools which had little or no AIDS education, clearly not in compliance with State Education mandates. Deputy Chancellor Goldstein lied.

The student representative who sits on the Board of Ed claimed to have gotten some AIDS education, but didn't know what the six lessons were. Goldstein's reply was: "sometimes students are getting AIDS education and don't know it." _This provoked widespread laughter in the entire room -- and here we didn't need to use a single laugh bag! Activism often uncovers the realities of bureaucratic ineptness.

After the report was over, YELL members stood up to shout and chant and hold signs about the importance of AIDS education. Five of us were arrested -- two of us for the first time (Angela and I). Our names were published in the New York Post the next day. I got several calls from concerned friends who thought I might still be languishing in jail (in truth, the Brooklyn Precinct knows YELL activism well...and we were only held in the police station for about 15 minutes). We were charged officially with "Disorderly Conduct," although I contend it is the Chancellor's NEGLIGENCE in AIDS education that is far more reprehensible in conduct and should be a prosecutable offense.






see a few other past ACTIONS:

Die-In Protest at the Board of Education (5-20-98)

Floating Condoms Action Report (11-19-97)


see:_ Survey of AIDS Education in NYC Schools

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