We continue to be dumbfounded as to why letters like this have to be written at all in a public system of education.
Joel Klein is not asleep at the helm. He knows what's going on in Seton Falls elementary school and all the other schools that are being forced to accommodate the new charters. In the old days, these schools had to find their own space. Not anymore.
Obviously the disparity is there by design. If the new charters get to have refurbished facilities, smaller class size, more equipment, supplies and books, and longer hours for learning that's great. When parents want to send their kids to these kinds of schools, the essence of what constitutes public education changes. The goal is privatization, not what's good for a generation of kids. The kids who get into charters get trained up early on a disparate two-tier system, and the ones who remain in district schools are never going to be in the favored tier.
The question is: when will tax-paying parents, teachers, and concerned citizens make enough noise to force the politicians and their appointees to change course. Letters like this should be widely circulated, and many others written when they need to be.
July 2nd, 2009
Dear Mr. Klein:
I am writing to you as the concerned parent of a student in the Seton Falls Elementary School - P.S. 111X. It has come to my attention that the Charter School for Better Learning has requested an additional 5 classrooms (inside P.S. 111X) for the upcoming 2009-2010 school year. After numerous discussions with other concerned parents, the concensus is that the approval of this request would be detrimental to the educational progress our children have been making in recent years.
The Charter School for Better Learning:
— opened in 2003 (utilizing trailers in the schoolyard of P.S. 111X - 3740 Baychester Avenue, Bronx, NY 10466)
— during the 2006-07 school year they began using our gymnasium for their physical education classes.
— during the 2007-08 school year their students began receiving breakfast in our cafeteria.
— during the 2008-09 school year they were given 3 classrooms so that the school could expand from 1st through 5th grades to kindergarten through 5th grades.
The Seton Falls Elementary School - P.S. 111X:
— first grade students were eating lunch, during the first 2 weeks of the 2008-09 school year, at 1:00pm so that the 3 Charter school classes could be fed in their earlier time slot. After parents voiced their concerns, the first graders were given back their 12:00pm lunch period.
— District 75/ P.S. 176 utilize classrooms (3 hearing impaired and 3 autistic).
— students receive physical/occupational therapy in the hallways.
— students receive academic intervention in the hallways. One area is set up outside the only passageway leading to and from the auditorium.
— on any given day the auditorium is where:a) the music teacher conducts his daily schedule of classes.— the teachers have found innovative ways to make the hallway space look and feel like "mini classrooms" — but in the end — they are still teaching in hallways.
b) school general assemblies and special events are held.
c) the Charter school holds special events.
d) outside entities use the space for events.
A few questions for you:
1. If there were 5 unoccupied classrooms in P.S. 111X, wouldn't they be used for the students receiving academic intervention and therapy in the hallways? Wouldn't that allow these students to receive services, with dignity, in the privacy of a classroom (with walls and doors)?
2. If the DOE re-organizes P.S. 111X to accomodate the Charter school's latest request; will our children's class sizes rise while theirs remain low?
3. If our children's class sizes rise — will they be able to continue the progressive strides they have made on standardized tests over recent years?
4. At its inception, the Charter school was well aware of the space constrictions and temporary nature of the trailers they requested to use. Wouldn't energy be better spent petitioning the DOE and or private foundations/corporations to assist them in finding a permanent facility conducive to their expansion needs and goals; while at the same time not encroach on an established school?
5. Will next years request be for an entire floor?
6. Will they continue to request space and services until they have taken over the whole building and Seton Falls Elementary School - P.S. 111X no longer exists?
7. Where will our children be educated then? Will they be bussed to faraway schools to overcrowd classrooms elsewhere?
Since 2006, prior to the start of each school year, the Charter School for Better Learning has received approval of all requests made to the DOE — without opposition from the parents of P.S. 111X students.
The time has now come for our voices to be heard.
We feel that all children should have as many opportunities as possible to achieve their educational goals, but not at the sacrifice of others with similar ambitions. To this end, we feel that our children have given up enough in the name of educational hospitality. The Seton Falls Elementary School is our community school and our children deserve full use of the building. We are determined to oppose the loss of anymore space inside of our school.
Please help us in realizing the educational dreams and goals we have for our children; while assisting the Charter School for Better Learning in securing a permanent facility, with adequate space, so that they may achieve theirs.
Your consideration and assistance in this matter will be greatly appreciated.
Joscelyn T. Mahon