The media’s perception of the “martyrdom” of poor Joe Fernandez is clearly evident in this bit of nastiness from the New York Daily News. One News story was head- lined: ‘With O’C lobbying, Joe didn’t have a prayer.” “O’C,” of course, is New York’s Cardinal O’Connor.

New York school chancellor Fernandez ousted

New York School Chancellor Joseph A. Fernandez was at the losing end of a 4-3 School Board vote in his bid for a second term at the helm of the Big Apple’s troubled school system. Strong backing from Mayor Dinkins and the liberal media – ABC network news crowned him “person of the week” on February 12 – failed to save the controversial “educator” who in the end had lost the support of his most important constituencies, black and Hispanic parents.

While the media pointed the finger at Cardinal O’Connor, School Board No. 24 in the borough of Queens and school board member Dr. Irene Impellizerri – among others – Washington Post columnist Lally Weymouth seemed to have gotten it right when she wrote, “Middle- and lower-middle-class parents rose up in protest against a chancellor who in their view was unwilling to allow parents a role in the moral education of their children.”

According to Weymouth the beginning of the end was condom distribution in the classroom as part of “AIDS education.” “This plan violated the sensibilities of parents who believe that such a program can only encourage sexual promiscuity,” Weymouth noted.

Readers may recall that during the hearings on the AIDS education curriculum a school bureaucrat dismissed the concern of parents and asserted that the professional educators knew what was best for their children.

Ninfa Segarra, an attorney and a member of the school board, told Weymouth that when a majority of the school board tried to compromise with Fernandez on the AIDS curriculum, he refused to meet them halfway. Segarra was quoted as saying that the chancellor was unwilling to “take into consideration the parents’ beliefs and values.”

The “Children of the Rainbow” curriculum was apparently the last straw. Fernandez craftily chose to do battle over it with a white Irish Catholic Queens school board in the hope that the black and Hispanic boards would line up on the other side. Fernandez had overplayed his hand.

“‘Children of the Rainbow’ took us over the brink,” Segarra told Weymouth. “It galvanized parents – primarily minorities.”

Fernandez and his boosters in City Hall and the media kept focusing attention of those nasty white Catholics out in Queens hoping that this would create an “us” against” them” scenario. They refused to admit that anyone else could possibly oppose their noble liberal effort to impose their politically correct multicultural view of reality on a million children.

Weeks after Fernandez went down to defeat, New York Times columnist Anna Quindlen was still foaming at the mouth because Cardinal O’Connor had dared to call the defeat of Fernandez a victory. Over at the Daily News Lynnell Hancock sang the same tune, telling readers that the Fernandez ouster has “triggered a debate about the church’s influence over the city public school system.” Another News story by Michael Garcilazo and Jere Hester accused the Cardinal of “lobbying.”

Quindlen and the rest of New York’s elite media types simply can’t admit that the parents of that city have fmally said “enough!” Or, to quote Ninfa Segarra, “When it came to our kids, we said no.”

In its “obituary” on the Fernandez ouster, the Times dismissed his defeat as some sort of social issue aberration and openly proposed that some other big city school system snap up this jewel of an educator. One wonders if these people ever take the time to look at student test scores on standardized tests, drop out rates, teen pregnancy data or the murder rates in New York schools.

Given the sorry state of public education in this nation he most assuredly will find safe haven in some other ill-fated school system where he can work his special brand of education magic.


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