Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Protest over Charter School at Junior High School 278 in Marine Park

On Tuesday, May 26, 2009, the Marine Park Community mobilized massive numbers of people to an overflowing auditorium to protest at the Department of Education Public Hearing at IS 278. The only media (aside from Ed Notes) appeared to be Channel 5.

GEM was there with signs and a GEM leaflet and two of us spoke. I have some poor quality video and I will try to put up some segments in a day or two. I'll grab a few stills off the video later and add them to this post.

As one would expect, the UFT was absent. I heard people asking why and I told them the UFT can't help you protest the placing of a charter school in your middle school since they had done exactly the same thing with their charter middle school in East NY at IS 166 - George Gershwin MS - (my alma mata). I urged teachers to put pressure on the union for support.

Here is a report from parent leader Dorothy Giglio, who spoke very eloquently, on the NYC Parent blog (Charter school students as the "jewels" of the DOE)

In recent days we are hearing a lot about Mayoral Control and whether it should be continued or not, changed or left the same. The Mayor said many times he wants to be judged on how he handles the schools.

Well right now, the parents and community of Marine Park in Brooklyn are involved in a real life struggle with the Department of Education. A struggle that would never have existed except for the current system of Mayoral Control.

In order to satisfy the whims of a newly established charter school, one whose founders clearly stated if they were allowed their charter would find their own space and would definitely not look to enter any public school building, has now shown their real colors as they attempt to force their way into an existing neighborhood junior high school, IS 278.

This would never even have become an issue if we still had Community School Boards that actually answered to the community and had some real power. Instead the DOE does as it wants. Against the will of the people, the elected representatives, the civic associations etc.

But worse of all, it became really apparent the contempt that the DOE holds the parents and students of New York City. Last night at a town hall meeting held by Sen. Marty Golden where this issue was raised at a packed house and the opposition of everyone there was apparent, Mr. John White of the DOE stated that the 150 children scheduled to be in the charter school are the "jewels" of the DOE.

I guess that means that the 1100 children currently attending
IS 278 as well as the numbers of students that would attend this school in the future are just dross to the DOE. They are throwaways. Why care what happens to them, their education, their class sizes, and the programs that help them or the quality of their school day -- all of which will be sacrificed because of the forced entry of this charter school? Why care what happens to a neighborhood school that has worked for years to improve the success of their children? They don't matter because to the Mayor and the DOE they are not the "jewels".

Mr. White also stated those 150 families signed up in the charter are taxpayers who have rights. More rights, I guess, than the thousands of taxpayers that have already signed petitions against this placement throughout the community.

So that is what they think of our children and anyone not involved in their charter schools. That is the result of Mayoral Control.

--Dorothy Giglio, long time parent leader in District 22

For more on the Hebrew Language Charter school, which has announced an intention to take space inside IS 278, a Title One school in Brooklyn, see this Daily news article and Diane Ravitch's oped here.

The IS 278 PTA announcement:

Marine Park Community Set to Protest the HLA Charter School Proposed to be placed within Marine Park JHS/IS 278

The HLA web site:

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