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?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

PS 287 which is located 2 blocks from my residence, is a school where my son was enrolled for 2 years before heading to middle school. While enrolled there, I made several visits to this oasis in the school infrastructure in our neighborhood and I was thoroughly impressed by the faculty’s focus and the student’s harmonious spirit that radiated from the halls.

When I first heard there was going to be a forum discussing the merge of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, which from my knowledge provides a high school curriculum to high school students, I thought to myself AGAIN, this can not be accurate as to merge the 2 dissimilar life styles and the mentalities would surely have an effect on the younger half. To think of my son witnessing on a daily basis the behavior and antics of peers twice his age would certainly disturb me. When I found out that SLJ would be sharing the building with P.S. 287, I listened to the objections and promises of the merge, not being harmful and it would be controlled. This did not happen and it failed the students.

Certainly the community of Park Slop (P.S. 282) thought and acted on this data and achieved their goal of preventing Khalil Gibran International Academy from merging into P.S. 282.

I urge the Chancellor to rethink this decision and give us the same partition that was awarded the community of Park Slope and their beloved P.S. 282. We value our elementary school just as well as I need not mention the crime rate statistics that the two communities do not share. The children in our community have enough to deal with, without the onset of two different age groups meshing, not to mention two different cultures. When I first found out that SLJ was leaving the building after this year, I was very excited to think that finally the students will have an appropriate environment to facilitate their educational needs. It should not be assumed by anyone that is acceptable or the “norm” to just think in this neighborhood, this should be allowed. These students have already witnessed cigarette smoking, cuddling, profanity and physical interaction among the students of SLJ. We were told that there would be segregation but as a parent I can assure you, teenagers are very adapt in finding a way around barriers. It is in their nature.

This could be a residual devastating effect on our neighborhood. The thought of more peer pressure added to our children IS JUST NOT RIGHT and to think another neighborhood was allowed to reject it and our neighborhood, this is forced upon.

In addition to have short notice without a proper forum to hear our views is unconstitutial and is the exact opposite of what America is all about. WE urge the Chancellor to NOT allow this merger and to revaluate the value of OUR community and deal with the placement of the Khalil Gibran International Academy on it’s own without it downgrading the existing educational infrastructure by co-existing among elementary school students,

TheonlyDiva said...

As a parent at PS 287, the blatant disregard for the community as well as the safety of the children enrolled at PS 287, shows us the overall interests of the DOE. It is definetly not the children as they want us to believe. Its about numbers and space to be filled by bodies no matter the circumstances. I wonder if the incident at John Dewey High School (the lockdown) will open the eyes and ears of both Joel Klein and Mayor Bloomberg about the many concerns and worries of PS 287 parents.

bk butterfly said...

THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS!HOW DARE THE DOE PUT THESE LITTLE CHILDREN THROUGH THIS? THEY ARE ALWAYS TALKING ABOUT MONITORING WHAT KIDS WATCH ON TELEVISION,WHAT ABOUT WHAT THEY SEE AT SCHOOL EACH DAY?
WHAT IF THE H.S. KIDS DID SOMETHING TO THE LITTLE ONES,SEXUALLY ABUSED THEM OR BEAT THEM UP? HOW ARE THEY SUPPOSED TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM THAT?
THIS IS VERY POORLY THOUGHT OUT AND UNFAIR!I THINK THE Chancellor NEEDS TO FIND SOMEWHERE ELSE FOR THIS SCHOOL TO BE HOUSED.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree to NOT join high school students with elementary kids. Our kids should not be witnessing and/or be exposed to unrulely behavior, i.e, profanity, seeing teenagers "making out", teenagers smoking in the bathrooms -- to mention a few. Then the elemenatary children will think that this kind of behavior is ok and it is NOT. Elemantary kids should have their own space to facilitate their own educational needs. The teenagers are not supposed to be using the bathrooms with the elementary kids. Also, it can sometimes be unsafe. The thought of more peer pressure added to our children IS JUST NOT RIGHT. WE urge the Chancellor to NOT allow this merger and to revaluate the value of OUR community and deal with the placement of the Khalil Gibran International Academy. I hope and wish this does not happen for the good of our children.

Anonymous said...

Of course it's outrages. But, more action should be taken, like an official complaint with Signatures from parents and the community. sounding off is good, but actions is needed!

Anonymous said...

Just read your email and I am so glad some parents are finally starting to wake up and take action against the DOE. I have been a school teacher for the past 19 years and certainly has seen it all. There are some good people in the system who have tried to make a difference, but the DOE and the city continue to enact and put in place policies that only hurt our children-the majority being minorities (so what do they care). Parents need to take a proactive role in their children's lives. They need to mobilize and fire up like they did in the 60s.

Anonymous said...

wow .. heavy stuff .. I agree with the parent 100%
small children should not be mixed with bigger/teenagers .. not a good Idea ..

Anonymous said...

Organize and protest!!!!!!!!! Use every thing in your power to make yourself heard.
That is what happened at my nieces' school, PS 282. My brother went to almost every PTA meeting and made himself heard. The parents took it to DOE. Teenagers and small ones are not a good mix in any school. Both have different needs and issues. What is the principal doing??? If need be, contact the PTA president at PS 282. Work together! And fight this.

Tulio "EL FEO" said...

I agree with Mr. Rivera that NYC Elementary School Students should not share space with NYC High School Students and I hope it does not happen in any Elementary School not only in NYC but in the whole United States and Puerto Rico... I hope those Education Department in NYC reverse any decision make on this matter that will put Elementary & High School Students in the same space on a School complex.

yetanotherfedupnewyorker said...

The only viable solution is to begin impeachment proceedings of Bloomberg. There must be no backing down. Then we will be rid of his consistently defective policies which include the absurd way the school system is now being run.

We also need to end mayoral control of the school system.

Anonymous said...

A good special education parent shares your concerns as we have experienced what you are for a while now. Our children come home beat up because they are different, they dont look different but they do act different. Just last year the DOE decided that they were going to give these childrentheir rights back. Schools can no longer get away with abusing our children. See our kids were put in a room with mats for hours at a time,abused verbally and physically. In residential setting our children had electric shock done to them to get them to do what they wanted, they refused the kids food. This is a fact that can be seen on any PAIMI for NY state.
Last week we reported a school, the parent noticed welts on her childs face, welts on the back, ya know what happened NOTHING. So your out rage, we feel and have felt for some time. My own school district was sued over duct taping a disabled students face and mouth shut. Yet the teacher still is working.

Anonymous said...

I am so outraged at the DOE for not being concerned for our children. They should be aware that the younger children will be exposed to behavior and attidudes that will certainly affect them. The parents and community people must join forces to fight the DOE and City Hall Officials so that they could see that we are concern about decisions that are made that affect our children. We must stop being passive when it comes to our childrens education and safety.

Anonymous said...

I went to insideschools.org and I found this comment to be interesting:

I have taught at P.S. 287 for a very long time, sharing the space with a high shcool has been no picnic. In the past 4 years, we had to explain to 5 year olds, about the funny smell coming from the hallways(smoking pot), why are those two girls kissing, is that boy hurting that girl?. While having lunch early in the morining ,which is not educationally sound, our little ones absorb more info early in the morning, is annoying, we have to deal with foul language,
alternative lifestlyes, extreme noise while walking our halls, and plain rude teenagers, all while trying to teach 5-12 year olds that most of this behavior is wrong. That is what P.S. 287 objects to when talking about age difference.

rn said...

my sister is a special ed teacher and I can tell you that mostly what the DOE cares about is the grades on tests that the kids get, not how/what they learn. So this is no surprise, they always think they know best without talking to those directly involved and LISTENING, taking their input, their experience into consideration. It is time to stand up and stop taking all the hardships that are occuring today. Things are getting way out of hand and we as a people are tooooo complacent. For you at PS 287, teachers need you parents to support them, to speak out that this is not a conducive setting for learning for these little children. They deserve a safe place a place they can be creative, and not feel they are pushed aside. Call your local politicians and DOE that you WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS.