Rhody McCoy, Key Figure in New York’s School Wars, Dies at 97

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tags: obituaries, education, 1970s, New York, urban history, teachers strike, community control

Rhody McCoy, a veteran black educator whose peremptory transfer of white teachers from his Brooklyn school district in 1968 touched off a citywide strike that closed schools for weeks and exposed a seismic rift among American liberals over race, education and trade unionism, died on April 18 at his home in Palm Desert, Calif. He was 97.

His death was announced this month by his daughter Carmen McCoy-Bell.

What became known as the 1968 school wars in New York City was the culmination of efforts by reformers to grant local communities greater control over curriculum and hiring, in response to parents’ complaints that their children were failing academically.

By the late 1960s, most students in the city’s public schools were black or Hispanic; a vast majority of teachers and supervisors were white. An experiment in community control in three districts, including Ocean Hill-Brownsville in Brooklyn, where Dr. McCoy was the local administrator, became a crucible for racial conflict in a city undergoing demographic upheaval.

Read entire article at New York Times

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