Midwood Lawmaker Compares Ramapo Saga to Slavery

BROOKLYN -

An assemblywoman representing a heavily Jewish neighborhood in Midwood says budget cuts to the public school system in East Ramapo were comparable to slavery and the denial of voting rights to women in the 19th century.

Rodneyse Bichotte was responding to a press conference last Thursday in which Assemblyman Dov Hikind termed “un-American” a report issued days before that recommended state oversight of the Orthodox-majority school board in East Ramapo. The report has angered the Jewish community over its perceived bias.

Bichotte, a Haitian-American freshman Democratic lawmaker, voted earlier this year for the oversight monitor, who would be equipped with veto powers, maddening Jewish supporters who had lobbied her to vote against it.

Though the measure was struck down by Republicans in the Senate — whose leader said Thursday he would do so again — Bichotte said she would vote once more for the oversight.

She then made the inflammatory comments, comparing the way limited education funds are distributed to the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education, which ruled that “separate but equal” was unconstitutional.

“This case was tried and won in 1954 over 60 years ago,” Bichotte told the Kings County Politics blog. “So why are we revisiting acts of injustices in the 21st century? I’m appalled to hear that some are saying that the recommendation put forth by the panel is ‘un-American’ and ‘undermine the democratic process.’”

“When slavery was law, was it undemocratic and un-American to free slaves? When women were not allowed to vote was it undemocratic and un-American to change that? Or was it the just and right thing to do since G-d created all men/women equal?”

In East Ramapo, the school board said they were forced to cut some extracurricular activities or services not mandated by the state due to a budget crunch.

An email sent to Bichotte was not immediately answered.

Bichotte earlier this year incensed some in the Jewish community when she complained that she was pressured to vote for a tuition aid bill benefiting yeshivah parents because she was “a woman [or] black.”