We received this report from the Hackney New School consultation meeting on Saturday 21st January.
Altogether about 100 people attended. Only 3 or 4 were black, including Pauline Pearce, the woman who confronted rioters in Clarence Road, perhaps explained by her admission during the meeting that most of the black people she had spoken with about the free school told her it was going to be run by the white middle class for the white middle class.
After the corporate financial advisor had given his powerpoint presentation one contributor said that as someone who had grown up in one of the most deprived council estates in South London he resented the assertion that children living on local estates would benefit by be able to attend the New School because it would compensate for the bad homes they came from. He got a big applause for this comment. There were other critical comments made.
The financial advisor and his friends were visibly thrown as other parents began to pick up on what had been said and began to ask probing questions and express doubts. The only thing that half saved the day for them was Pauline’s bravura performance as a working class black woman and ex drug dealer who only wanted to give underprivileged kids the kind of opportunities that are usually only available to middle class ones. She was asked if she didn’t think she was being used and she admitted that there was a danger of that.
Pauline said that we needed another meeting where people critical of the proposal could come and continue the debate. Although, by the end, there was clearly a minority of parents there who wanted the free school whatever the cost to the community, the organisers were clearly rattled. They also agreed to call another meeting.
Opponents of the ‘Free’ school proposal are organising a campaign meeting.