A teacher at PS 241 sends an anguished outcry as the Eva Moskowitz blitzkrieg runs over another Harlem School just as school is about to open.
Ed Notes has been reporting summer at the battles at PS 123 in Harlem (search the blog for PS 123 and check out all our videos).
PS 241 had a different story. It was supposed to be a failed school and be closed, with the entire building being handed over to Eva Moskowitz. But that would leave that area of Harlem without a zoned school. What's a law to these gangsters? But the UFT sued and Klein was forced to keep the school open. But he cut out the PS 241 middle school and sent a letter to parents basically telling them they were crazy to send their kids to the school. (Similar to this letter – Klein Letter to PS 150 Brownsville Parents, the other similar school in the suit.)
The Moskowitz attack dogs came out in force attacking the UFT for trying to keep "failing" schools open. Then low and behold, PS 241 gets a good grade of B on the DOE's own stupid grading system - since we laugh at that system, we don't like to credit schools with "success" or "failure" based on Leibman's folly. But, hey, they wanted to close it based on a grade.
So, the summer passes and just as school opens, we get the letter to follow today from people at PS 241.
Check all the Ed Notes sources below which includes a previous letter from April.
Aug 26, 2009
Opening of School at Harlem's PS 241 Hindered by Moskowitz Harlem Success Charter School Moving In
by SHOCKED IN HARLEM
News from PS 241- one of the schools embattled in early spring 2009 to save themselves from "Phasing Out" and being replaced with Harlem Success.
While news of the lawsuit pushed the DOE to back off and give us another "chance", it did not stop Harlem Success from being given the green light to move into the building anyway and target our students to fill their spots.
Our parents received heavy mailings, phone calls, and personal visits, as Harlem Success employees stood outside the school building at every dismissal accosting parents and cajoling them into signing up for HS. Staff members were told by parents just how persuasive and persistent Moskowitz's team was and wondered if they really had a choice. All the while DOE and Moskowitz/HS staffers were in and out of our building, offices, classrooms- sizing up what they wanted and making plans to get their way.
Her people even walked in and out of classrooms- DURING lessons (without asking our permission) and hovered daily after school in certain rooms (my office in particular as she practically drooled over where she would put her desk, etc. ) It was offensive, disrespectful, and inappropriate! But, DOE once again, gave M her free reign- at the expense of the two other schools already housed there (Opportunity Charter School has been in the building since 2006-2007 as well, chipping away more and more space each year.)
We acknowledge that our enrollment is dropping- certainly partly in due to the myriad of Charter Schools in the area sending their beautiful full-color brochures and promising longer hours (daycare!) and sometime monetary rewards as well for students to transfer out of the public schools. Add a well-funded, pushy Harlem Success Academy to the mix and we do not stand a chance!
Our funding has been cut so that we can not provide much in the way of after-school programs, so when they offer an opportunity to attend their school which starts at 7:00 and ends at 4:30- what parent would decline?
And now, we have had to give up so much space to HSA. Mind you they were caught in the spring time stacking their enrollment numbers to nearly impossible numbers so as to gain more space than needed. Our principal called them on this and M had to admit she had less than previously stated. Who knows what else she lied about. The DOE blindly accepted- seemingly happy to shove PS 241 out of the way?
Our Middle School students will be relegated to several classrooms in the basement, our principal has given up her office (adjacent to the main office) to a first grade classroom, we have lost our Art Studio, our elementary school science lab, our teachers lounge, parent room, offices for pull-out instruction, and now must share the gym, school yard and cafeteria with two schools. One can only wonder what time lunch will be served?
Recess will go on forever with the screams and laughter that permeates the classrooms and disturb the learning environment (the school yard is situated in a courtyard fashion) – no problem when it was only for an hour a day- but now?
Moskowitz is trying to smooth out the wrinkles by purchasing our silence and complacency. She has offered the following: new cafeteria tables, new gymnasium, new auditorium.
If these were so sorely needed, shouldn't our own DOE have made arrangements??? Don't our students deserve things too!
They have completely renovated the wing HSA took over: air conditioners (our students did not have any), new walls, new doors, smart boards in every room, beautiful cubbies placed in the hallway so as to leave more room for who knows what kind of furniture and other goodies that have an overabundance of money to purchase.
They also have staff members manning the hallways providing the much needed security to keep our students and staff members (and those of Opportunity Charter School) out.
This is just what I know about- I am sure there is much, much more!
I know our cafeteria staff and custodial staff members will be working longer hours (extended meal prep and serving, longer hours for custodial staff as their school day is longer and their teachers stay until 9-10 in the evening and request to come in over the weekend as well.)
Who pays for this? DOE, not HSA!
The last item I will mention- due to HSA moving in - our entire school has had to be shifted from one wing (separate building) to another and redistributed over four floors with several classes isolated either in the basement or on the third floor with the other Charter school.
Every classroom had to be moved. Every classroom teacher spent countless hours packing up during the last week of school– not just into closets,etc. as usual, but into packing boxes that could only hold a specified number of pounds. Boxes were supplied by DOE but ran short early on.
Teachers were overwhelmed with trying to teach and supervise their students while also ensure that no item was left behind. No teachers were compensated for this extra work- not in time or money. No movers were brought in until the teachers did all the packing. The movers simply moved boxes from one room to another.
Our custodial staff still had to clean up and move all the boxes themselves in order to do do. It is a MESS! Now, as we get set to return to school we are invited in to come next week- one week early, to start unpacking and setting up our classrooms.
The principal has tried- to no avail- to get DOE funding to compensate us for the amount of time it will take to start over this year. We know many teachers chose to come in early on their own - but this is not the normal new classroom set up! With everyone doing their best- boxes are still everywhere. Furniture is an issue as elementary classes will now be housed in previously middle school rooms. It will take a monumental effort an everyone's part to get classrooms up and running. However- teachers must volunteer their own time to do this. No help will be available to move boxes- many of which are stacked high- and remember what is in a classroom and imagine the weight in some of these boxes.
How can this be allowed?
How can DOE make us move and do nothing but provide one-time movers with no time, support, or understanding of what it will take to give our students warm, inviting classrooms to come back to on Sept. 9?
Forget what will be a stark and painful difference between the HSA classrooms that many of their friends, siblings and neighbors will be sitting in around the corner?
I am, and will probably remain,
SHOCKED IN HARLEM!
Some previous posts on PS 241
From teachers at PS 241 in Harlem (back in April):
Good Morning All-
As some off you may have heard- DOE will not be closing the school down- they have been put off by the lawsuit! This is not a true victory however.
Please read the letter being sent to the parents carefully.
Parents are still being bullied to send their students to other schools.
Harlem Success Academy will still be placed in our building.
Middle school will be phased out.
Where will there be room for HSA? We would only lose our grade 6 students. We will be attempting to get back all of our parents who were forced to apply elsewhere- but how will they all be housed? Sharing facilities with 3 schools- how? We already do not have use of our gym- and struggle to share the other common areas with another charter school in the building. We will lose classrooms, we will lose our art room, we will have to figure out lunch and breakfast times and children will be eating at all kinds of hours.
PS 242 [another Harlem school]- has shown that three buildings cannot live peacefully and successfully in one facility without children suffering. Also- DOE says that if students come back to the school- and if 241 progresses well (by what standards and whose say so) we will stay open- otherwise we will still be closed. That means with HSA already in the building- they can take over. They will still have a way to rezone illegally in the future.
This must stop. This is not a victory- they have only shifted that battle.
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