CONFRONTATION AT OCEAN HILL-BROWNSVILLE: The New York School Strikes of 1968 by Maurice & Marilyn Gittell--Eds. Berube


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No anthology could eo ipso fulfill the editors' intention to ""provide an accurate record of the circumstances of [the Ocean Hill-Brownsville] confrontation"" in New York City last fall. What this book does offer is an invaluable juxtaposition of basic documents and clashing positions. Gittell was a consultant to the mayor's advisory panel on school decentralization; Berube, a member of the Queens College Institute for Community Studies, was formerly a UFT staff member. Documents include union and Board of Education policy statements on decentralization; the Civil Liberties Union and the Bundy report; ""hate literature"" and the letter asking ten teachers' transfer. Antagonistic positions are expressed in articles and open letters from participants (teachers, a union spokesman, Rhody McCoy) and observers (the New York Review exchange between Michael Harrington and Dwight Macdonald, an acute essay by Berube). Views to the right of the UFT and the left of Jason Epstein are not directly represented. But the statements are very lively, and the documents are terribly useful--not the usual frills to go unread, but integral elements of the debates. The editors provide connecting narratives. The introduction acknowledges their commitment to decentralization and community control as a way to not only redeem city schools but ""revitalize city structures."" They see the strike as a conflict between an enthusiastic community and an entrenched civil service (not a foundation-backed political diversion or a trade-union battle). Ocean Hill-Brownsville, accordingly, was a particular case of white liberals defending their power at the expense of imperative reforms. This said, they present their material with resolute impartiality. The book will draw the Martin Mayer Teachers' Strike audience. Indeed, it is a prerequisite for appraising any such detailed and partisan study.

Pub Date: May 27th, 1969
Publisher: Praeger