Refined and Fly

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


*Peace.This is about a sister that I know in New York who is also a part of Sankofa Community Empowerment Inc. Support the blitz if you can. Peace!

Those of you who've been to Sankofa and/or Liberation Family events recently may have heard about this. Aja Kweliona, a 6th grade teacher, was suspended - and recently removed from the payroll though there has been no investigation or any formal charges or finding of any kind - for wearing a t-shirt to protest the fact that one of her special education students was locked inside a gym equipment cage as punishment. Please show support by helping out on Wednesday - it does not take much and it a concrete way of helping to support Black educators who are trying to protect our children.

Folks, Please Do the Blitz. Also, Put this On Your Drum!! NOTICE: NYC Dept. of Mis-Education has just WRONGFULLY removed our sister, Aja from its payroll. Black New Yorkers for Educational Excellence (BNYEE) asks all who support Aja to join a "DEFEND Aja Communications Blitz" via phone, fax and email tomorrow: Wednesday, April 26, between 9am and noon . Please consider the points raised below in your calls, emails and faxes to Klein, Bloomberg, Supt. Gale Reeves, et al. Find a way to make the time!

Chancellor Klein:

In an obvious abuse of authority and a total disregard for employee rights, members of your staff have wrongfully removed Aja Kweliona from her students and recently taken her off payroll. The actions taken against Ms. Kweliona are outrageous and must not be tolerated. She must be fully reinstated to her position as a teacher at P.S. 18 in Manhattan. Since February 2006, Ms. Kweliona has been subjected to deliberate attempts by members of your staff to discredit her as a highly qualified teaching professional, to deny her the rights of due process, to punish her for reporting child abuse committed by school personnel, to deny her First Amendment rights, and to undermine her psychological well being by using cultural ignorance as an expression of bigotry. Based on Ms. Kweliona and media accounts of why she was removed from her students, she should have been given an award for bravery. Instead, members of your staff have chosen to disregard published personnel policy and labor laws to strip her of her right to earn a living as a NYC public school teacher. Reports regarding her situation should be on file in Region 10, Community School District 6 for your review. A thorough investigation of the circumstances will reveal the unprincipled nature of the charges against her, and the egregious infringement of Ms. Kweliona's rights. I also hope that as a result of your investigation, you will immediately see to it that no other child is caged in a school storage bin as a disciplinary measure (or for any other reason). I hope you will see to it that the child who was abused, and his family, receive a sincere apology from your office with a promise that nothing like that will ever happen again. Moreover, the teacher, who caged the student, made racist comments about "...feeding time at the zoo" and referred to the student as a "wild animal". The statements were heard by students and staff. This outrageously abusive behavior must not be tolerated. It seems that Principal, Aurea Porrata-Doria, got this all wrong. Such mean-spirited, hurtful and unprofessional practices were unacceptable in Queens at PS 34-- when an assistant principal directed her venom at very young children of Haitian ancestry. It is equally, unacceptable in Manhattan. In Queens, attempts by the perpetrator's administrative superior to tolerate the behavior was wrong. It is equally wrong in Region 10. Is the intent in Region 10 to punish a principled, reflective and respectful young teacher? Are your staff and you trying to send a message to students, parents and school staff that authoritarianism and cultural intimidation is the way to resolve conflicts? If so, you are wrong and YOU ought to leave right away. If not, you must reverse this "1984-like" response to a young teacher who should be nurtured not "pushed out". In any case, I will continue to support Ms. Kweliona's struggle for full reinstatement. Yours truly, Chancellor Joel Klein email =, ofc#212/374.0200; Regional Supt. #10 Gale Reeves email =, ofc#917/521.3771; Mayor Michael Bloomberg email =, fax#212/788.2460; Deputy Mayor for Education & Community Development Dennis M. Walcott
ofc#212/788.3000, fax#212/788.2460.


  • At 5:22 PM, Blogger CJ DeStefano said…

    I sent the following letter to Mr. Gil Noble on WABC in New York as well as a copy to "sista Aja." She replied and of course circumvented all questions and as is the case in most all of these issues, the questioner is dismissed as racist. An interesting tactic when one wants to claim imputation. In all fairness of allowing opposing points of view, I leave it up to you to decipher and decide:

    Mr. Noble,

    While I am surprised that an irrelevant newsman like yourself remains on the air, it does not surprise me that the internal powers that be in WABC, relegate you to an early afternoon time-slot so your racist ranting and unfounded imputations go largely ignored by the mainstream population.

    Today, a light and relaxing afternoon, I decided to subject myself to your special brand of reporter dexterity and came across this young, fresh-faced little waif Aja Kweliona discussing her plight regarding an incident at P.S. 16 Park Terrace Early Childhood Academy. While we can all get a chuckle at your attempt to raise the relevance of this undisputed self-inflicted wound, it speaks volumes at your consistency to eschew an invitation to achieve equity with the dissemination of information for both sides. With some altered sense of reality you continue to let this neophyte strap on her Rosa Parks cloak and lecture all of us on the plight of the downtrodden. Her implications are of course shared by many in your circles who are discouraged by the failure of general education to achieve eudaemonia within a select grouping of people. The nescient impetuosity of this newly appointed educator is evident when the superintendent walks into the building for a "routine visit" and she makes a decision to lodge her formal complaint in the boorish form of scrawled protest words on a shirt. If we are to believe this youngster, this superintendent had no idea of the atrocities taking place in this den of ineptitude. Why then would Aja, our female pilgrim, not approach this person for a formal and undoubtedly more appropriate meeting?

    And then as the Coup-de-gras you invite the always alluring Adelaide Sanford in to tout her mantra of "won’t somebody this of the children." Frankly, the only resonant quality of an interview with this loquacious and choleric guest, is her choice of garb. With her jesters hat and resolute posture she attempts to skew all reason and have us point an accusatory finger at all, instead of the probable cause of the issue, children and their behavior. While not defending the actions of all adults, I cannot discern a canard from reality in your less than scientific forum. This is tantamount of a request for severe penalties without the opportunity for rebuttal, albeit even a cursory one.

    Where do Aja and Adelaide stand on the current flavor of the month blond bombshells down south molesting their equally blond students? Where were the cries from these bastions of fairness when Michael Jackson’s son was hanging precariously in Germany? Where was the pleading for ethical treatment in any scenario not malleable enough for racial tension?

    The story is the same. The players are all too similar. And the results will follow the course of the law, unmoved by the callow claims and with disdain for your persistent attempts at arrogation of power for your collection of multiple champions.



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