Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Hebrew Language charter School in Brooklyn
For the record, we are now opposed to the concept of all charter schools, no matter how well-intentioned, because they are part of the fabric of the undermining of public education. Fix what's wrong with the public schools without the bogus distractions of setting up phony competitive models. That the UFT chooses to join the chorus is beyond the pale.
Remember the attacks on Debbie Almontaser who tried to start the Khalil Gibran school which was branded a Madrassa and a Jihad school by the NY Sun and the NY Post and by groups like Militant Islam Monitor? Remember how the UFT's Randi Weingarten dropped Debbie like a hot potato after Debbie was ambushed by the Post?
"I write as a White, Jewish anti-racist educator who is heartsick over the role his union played in this sordid affair." - Steve's full letter is here.
How will the Sun and the Post cover the proposed Brooklyn Hebrew language charter school which will teach Hebrew and the Israeli culture to which it is tied and will cost the NYCDOE $200,000 in start-up costs and will be filled with what could be the best guess (no matter the disclaimers), a slightly homogeneous population?
It reminds me of the bi-lingual Yiddish schools in Williamnsburg that were set up by the District 14 school board as a sop to the Hassidic community, which held 3 out of 9 seats and the balance of power.
Brooklyn's District 22 is an area running from central Flatbush south to Sheepshead Bay. The central/south end of the district is generally white with the north-end and parts of Sheepshead Bay black. There's a high number of Orthodox Jews in the area who do not use the public schools. But there are also a number of secular Jews of Russian and Israeli background. The organizers of the school claim that they hope to attract all ethnic backgrounds, just as the organizers of the Khalil Gibran school did. There will be just a slight difference in coverage.
"[I]s a religion-free Hebrew-language school possible," Jewish Week asks?
The Forward says,
"In a sense, Hebrew charter schools reflect a very old model of religious groups educating their own... [They] have emerged as a new potential strategy for building Jewish identity, as they are both cheaper and less parochial than day schools. But some have argued that this strategy is, if not illegal, then at least inappropriate."
Neither the Forward (run by the same people who run The NY Sun) or the Jewish Week article mention the controversy over the Arab language school.
Will the Sun and the Post look for nefarious and hidden agendas?
Here is a report from a parent with links to the Forward and JW articles:
I attended the public hearing on the proposed Hebrew language charter school in district 22 tonight. It was an interesting experience. Although this has been in the works for months now, the district only recently learned of its plans via Internet recently and started asking questions. Although the turnout wasn't particularly good, considering this is the middle of graduations and many parents have too much going on, the people that were there did ask some very valid questions
Aside from my personal opinion that any type of school that insulates a group rather than causing them to become part of the diverse population and part of the "melting pot" that is America is the wrong way to go this in particular smacked of an attempt to create religious oriented schools albeit within the confines of the law with tax payer dollars. If I did not believe that to start with, the two attached websites with interviews with the sponsors of this school as much as come out and say that.
Jewish week: Steinhardt Seeks Hebrew Charter School Here
The Forward: Charter School Effort Opens Rift on Civic Values
However, our biggest objection is that the charter mandate is to go in and try to help at risk students that cannot obtain a proper education via their public schools. However, District 22 is one of the highest performing districts in the city and the at risk students we do have, would most likely not embrace a Hebrew language school. Therefore, why place this school in D-22 at all and how does the DOE accept that they are fulfilling their charter mandate? Also the startup costs for this school even with the private funding would cost over $200,000 from the DOE based on the actual paperwork the DOE gave out at the meeting and this at a time when other schools in the district are being forced to cut art/music, after school, etc. How can they justify this expense right now?