Monday, March 31, 2008

Who is to be held accountable?

If we, as parents, were to expose our 4-5 yr olds to profanity, abuse, condoms on the floor or pornography; everyone would want us, the parents, to be held accountable for that. They would say, "we are endangering our chilrens's well being" and probably call us unfit parents. Or worse have them taken away from us! Well, who do we hold accountable in the Department of Education for doing just that?! It's happening in our school with the current high school we have now, the School of Law and Justice. Thankfully, they will be leaving this year. We can't always hold the 2 principals responsible, the decision to have an elementary school to share space with a high school was imposed on them too and not everything gets to their ears. So can you see where our parents are coming from? We dont want to go through this again with another school.

We have quite a few high schools already within a one or two block radius. I.S./H.S. 265 Dr. Susan McKinney Secondary School of the Arts, Benjamin Banneker Academy‎, Brooklyn Technical High School‎ not to mention the other schools inside of J.H.S.113, Westinghouse on Tillary, the High School of Science Skills which is located right behind P.S 287 which houses 2 other high schools in one building. Honestly, how many more do we need?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Should NYC Elementary school children share space with High school children?

I am a parent with children that attend P.S. 287 in Brooklyn, New York. Four years ago, we were told by our then Principal, Mr. Khani, that the School of Law and Justice needed to share space with P.S. 287 for one year because their building was under construction. The Department of Education brought in 100 ninth graders to our school. The parents were not happy about that then but, DOE said it was only for that year (2004). The next year came (2005), DOE said their building was still being worked on but that the School of Law and Justice (SLJ) were leaving the following year (2006). It is 2008 and now it's official! SLJ will be leaving at the end of the school year.

P.S. 287 houses Pre-K (3-4 yr olds) through the fifth grade (10 to 11 yr olds). We are happy that SLJ high school is leaving because since they have been there, our kids have witnessed and have been exposed to unrulely behavior, i.e, profanity, seeing teenagers "making out", teenagers smoking in the bathrooms -- to mention a few. The teenagers are not supposed to be using the bathrooms the elementary kids use but some how they find a way to be there. Our kids have used gym and the auditorium less because the high school is constantly using them. The whole elementary school body has to eat LUNCH at 10:45am. When classes start at 8:40am and the children get dismissed at 3, 3:30 or 5:00pm. Our children have not been able to put on many productions in the auditorium since the high school has monopolized it. Because of SLJ, our children have had very few award ceremonies. Once SLJ leaves, the parents and staff of P.S. 287 would like to make P.S. 287 an A+ elementary school by utilizing that space for the following: Adding a science lab, more technology, drama and music departments.

The Department of Education has other ideas. They feel since the School of Law and Justice (SLJ) will be leaving, that it's ok to dump another high school, Khalil Gibran International Academy, on our laps, in place of SLJ. There is one difference, Khalil would be permanent not temporary. Since no other neighborhood seems to want this school, the Department Of Education figures our school would be the perfect location. By the time Khalil Gibran would move into P.S. 287, Khalil Gibran International Academy would be bringing 120 students (sixty 6th graders and sixty 7th graders) and keep adding 60 more children per grade. Do the math. 60 children times 7 grades that would be 420 students to occupy one and half floors!! Does that sound appropriate?!

The Department of Education's justification is that our enrollment is low. In fact, our enrollment has significantly dropped since the School of Law and Justice has been there. A DOE representative has also stated that elementary school enrollement is low throughout the city; so it's not just our school.

Can you blame a new parent for not wanting to place their three or four year old in a school where they witness teenagers stampeding down the stairs and the halls in big groups? This is why our enrollment has gone down! Of course, the DOE will tell you otherwise. The DOE doesn't live in our neighborhood and has not put any of their children in the situation that they have placed mine and so many others in my community.

The DOE's idea to place Khalil Gibran International Academy High School with Elementary School P.S. 287 was supposed to be "merely a proposal"; we were supposed to have further discussions with the DOE. Ultimately, they made a "final" decision on Good Friday, without talking to the community and announced to us on Wednesday, March 25th, "We are going to make PS 287 Khalil's permanent location; you have already shared space with a high school and it seems to be working out fine" said a DOE representative. Fine?! We, the parents and community leaders, have been telling them that we have had a lot of issues with this situation and we don't want our children exposed to what we have seen with our own eyes. Seemingly, the DOE is on a mission to put real estate decisions ahead of the safety and well being of our kids!!

I, for one, am tired of the tone the DOE and some reporters set in their "writings". They discredit our concerns for our children's education, safety and well being. Unlike, The Department of Education, our motivation is based on our love and concern for our children. The DOE's motivation is based on money, prime real estate and control! I am especially tired of DOE spokeswoman, Ms. Melody Meyers, telling the media, “There is enough space in the school, and the space is outfitted to serve middle and high school students.” That is not true!! P.S. 287 has been an elementary school always - it was about 4 years ago that they decided to eliminate their sixth grade. Conveniently when SLJ needed a place to stay. I'm tired of her saying the parents of P.S. 287 have never had a a problem before. That is simply not true. She has never been to our meetings or contacted our PTA President to talk to him or confirm that her representatives are giving her correct information. So how dare she speak to the media as if she got all her facts straight!!

On March 26, 2008, John Dewey High School was put on lockdown for three hours after police say a gun fell out of a male student's backpack during history class. This obviously tells us that the metal detectors were useless. Can you imagine if this high school would have shared space with an elementary school?! How would the parents of the all those younger children have felt? What if a young child would have been shot? What then?! What would the DOE say then? That this was an unforeseen tragedy?! The answer to that would be -- NO, it wasn't an unforeseen tragedy -- we, the parents of elementary school age children, told you that situation could have happened!! So please weigh in on this and voice your opinions/concerns. People who have young children or people who care about young children need Chancellor Klein and our "ELECTED" officials to understand that even though the Chancellor says it's the "norm" throughout the city. It is not okay with us!! We, the tax payers, will not allow the DOE to do whatever they want with our kids!!! Am I the only that feels this way?