Great story by WAVE Assistant Editor, Ralph Mancini. I'll be posting video footage as I process it.
[Chapter Leader] John Krattinger led the charge against DOE forces that are looking to shut down PS/MS 42 at Tuesday night’s public hearing. Photo By Ralph Mancini
A green-shirted cavalcade of teachers, students, and other community members lobbied Department of Education officials to keep PS/MS 42 open during a public hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 13.
United Federation of Teachers (UFT) chapter leader John Krattinger rallied the troops by charging the DOE of blatantly silencing people’s voices by failing to immediately notify elected officials of their decision to shutter the Arverne-based facility, also known as The Robert Vernam School.
“If elected officials weren’t notified, what makes you think they’re telling us the truth?” asked Krattinger in rhetorical fashion while also mentioning that NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña issued positive reviews of PS/MS 42 less than 12 months ago.
“The truth has reared its ugly head—gentrification has come to zip code 11692,” he exclaimed. “They want to take it away from our kids and give it to other kids,” Krattinger added, referring to what many have called the DOE’s agenda to see PS/MS 42 closed to clear the lane for two new incoming charter schools that will reportedly be zoned for new homeowners and apartment dwellers in the more affluent Arverne By The Sea community.
Those living in the poorer surrounding communities would be left out in the cold, according to Krattinger and several other teachers.
The school activist continued his rant by calling attention to the statistics that single out the Beach 66th Street location as the sole Renewal school among 20 others with a rating of “good.”
To that end, Krattinger and other faculty members mentioned that the numbers indicate that PS/MS 42 has shown 122 percent growth in English Language Arts (ELA) over the past school year and a 166 percent surge in math over the same stretch.
Undaunted by the DOE’s claims that the school’s level-one percentages among its student population in both ELA (50 percent) and math (60 percent) far exceeds borough-wide totals, Krattinger promised those in attendance that he and his fellow teachers “have moved mountains and will continue to do so.”
“Mark my words,” he declared, “we will prevail.”
Parents also weighed in, including Rhonda Williams, Lechelle Gulley and Millisa Lenihan, who felt as though their sons and daughters were being treated like second-class citizens.
Attendees at the PS/MS 42 meeting vociferously opposed the DOE’s decision to close their school by shouting, “Save 42” in unison. Photo By Ralph Mancini
Williams peppered the DOE panel with questions regarding the type of staff that will be slated to replace the current faculty staff.
She wondered why her school was on the list of sites that are slated to be replaced when data proves that PS/MS 42 is ahead of six other K-8 Renewal schools from an overall performance and progress perspective.
“How about giving us some help? How about giving us the proper education other schools are given? It’s ridiculous. Our children can learn. They’re not failures,” she insisted.
Fifth-graders Hasson Smith and Demetrius Weekes both professed their love for their environment and their teachers, as well as seventh-grader
Leilani Dyer, who felt her school wasn’t offered ample time to show real improvement.
Fellow seventh-grader Nigel Adu, however, elicited a hearty round of applause for relating how his teachers have guided him to persevere and overcome an assortment of obstacles he once had as a special education student.
“If this school wasn’t here, I don’t think I would be where I am right now,” he concluded at the end of his allotted time at the podium.
Community activist Queen Makkada lobbed a series of verbal attacks against Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña by calling her a “bully” and “law breaker” along with apprising the crowd that the DOE leader didn’t follow civil rights law in endorsing multiple school closures in Rockaway.
Toward the end of the meeting, Danielle McGuire, a PS/MS 42 teacher, expounded on the topic of time that was previously introduced by Dyer. She noted the site’s governing agency had promised to afford the school three years to grow and develop, but has now reversed course.
Less than 24 hours after Tuesday night’s hearing, The Wave learned that Fariña would be visiting PS/MS 42 Thursday afternoon to unveil her plans for a new facility slated to supplant the current school.
When Krattinger was contacted by The Wave to comment on the chancellor’s appearance, he reported that neither teachers nor parents would attend the presentation.
He further remarked that the DOE’s last-minute decision to schedule a meeting at 4 p.m. was another “dirty deal” on their part to keep faculty staff away as the school heads into its mid-winter break that same day.
An official verdict on the fate of PS/MS 42 and other Renewal schools takes place on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at Mary Bergtram High School, located at 411 Pearl St. in Manhattan. The event will kick off at 6 p.m.
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