Alejandro Rocha is not the first teacher who has been either disciplined or arrested for some words spoken in the classroom. He allegedly spoke about shooting the children and he went to his supervisor to tell what happened. The next thing we learned is that he was arrested for “terrorism” which is something that I know nothing about. Really!
There are all kinds of gaps in the news. Let me share first my own story. I was once told by a police officer in the 24th Precinct that he thought he had to arrest me for turning in a “Saturday night special” that was given to me when I worked in a nearby store. He asked someone else and I was allowed to go home free since there was an “amnesty” in place. But you should know how I felt at that moment for doing a service to that community and hearing him say what he had said.
Then at the end of my career in Queens in a GED program I opened my mouth, kidding around with a student. Before I knew it, I was handed a letter from Special Investigations by my supervisor and I reported to a room in the district office and later transferred to downtown Brooklyn. Three months of being away from class and although it appeared that I was going to be fired or sent to jail, I was returned to the classroom.
Upon meeting the union rep, I learned from him that the worst that could happen to me was a letter was going to be put in my file. The investigation had been transferred to the Board of Education which I had no knowledge about. So I had to fight the letter and its contents. There was not a single word about what transpired in what appeared to be a threat which shocked me. The investigator knew about that part of the story, of course, but his concentration was on statements made without a date, a time, a complainant, nothing. And during those months as I traveled to that room, it was reported on the news that a dean in New Jersey told a student “sit down or I’ll kill you” and he was removed from the school. He later returned to the job before my case was resolved.
Yes I said something that I shouldn’t have said. Unlike a substitute teacher who is not protected by state law, if things had been much worse for me I might not have been fired since I was protected by state law. In the district office I was told that I could have been fired, but I had a clean record. I laughed inside at hearing that disinformation.
I am reaching out to provide critical information. If the supervisors had come to me and asked me what had taken place, I believe there would never have been an investigation, a letter that made it appear that I was deep trouble, and no loss of months due to hiring another teacher. There was a conspiracy taking place which I wrote about in my book J’Accuse: Zola Is My Guide.
Among other things I have given articles as a teach to El Diario-La Prensa, The New York Daily News, and New York Newsday that were intended to expose deficiencies in the GED programs. Upon retiring I reached out and worked closely with ASPIRA of New York, the Consulate of El Salvador on Long Island, and the Washington Bureau of the NAACP, making history repeatedly.
In 2007 former Governor Eliot Spitzer transferred $2.1 million into the budget because of my intervention. And years before I intervened in Florida and changed the thinking of Governor Jeb Bush after uncovering bad test regulations at the urging of his right-hand man for “budget and policy.” This intervention mattered to thousands of people.
I am still fighting for the people and my nickname is “El Quijote del GED.” But the general public should not draw conclusions about that substitute teacher in Queens. Alejandro Rojas is suffering right now and perhaps he is just a victim himself. I want justice to take place and it could mean justice in favor of Mr. Rojas.
This big word “if” means that upon learning that he was wronged by either the Department of Education or the NYPD he has rights to exercise about any wrong done to him. In my case I got back my satisfactory rating at the end of the year, the letter was taken out of my file, and I moved on, but the conspiracy continued in the next program. I later wrote an e-book called From the Rubber Room to Helping the World. And after Chancellor Joel Klein retired and wrote a book about his experiences a part of my experience in the “rubber room” was documented in his book on page 39.
About Martin Danenberg
Martin Danenberg was a teacher on the Lower East Side of New York and then became a G.E.D. teacher until he retired in 2000. His work is now more known than ever as he has reached out to people in politics and more. His ideas about helping American recently surfaced in the Election of 2020 as Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden spoke out to help people with education.
To learn more, please visit here.