To The Editor:
Re: “A schoolhouse divided on Sullivan Street.”
While Public School 15 teachers and parents appreciate your newspaper for bringing our issue to the forefront, there are some clarifications we would like to make in terms of the issues we are facing and the impact of PAVE Academy, and charter schools across the city, on public schools such as ours.
First, let us be clear that this is not a fight against anyone, or anything; this is a policy debate, encompassing several issues, including the impact of shared space on existing schools and the need to advocate for the protection and preservation of public schools. This is not about issues in bathrooms, or squabbling over hallways, although those are important issues and highlight the impact of shared space. What this is about is the systematic attempt to devalue and dismantle community public schools.
At Public School 15, we are in the unique position to provide perspective in terms of the charter school agenda, and its impact on public schools across this city and in major cities across the country. This agenda has a negative impact on community public schools because it drains their resources due to diverted funds and shared space, destabilizes communities due to the lack of due process and valuing community member voices and, frankly, it seeks to privatize public education which we firmly believe would marginalize the most marginalized in our society.
The charter school agenda is being propagated on the promise of college preparation and scholarly excellence and in so stating the inference is that public schools, such as Public School 15, who have served their community successfully for many years, do not prepare students in the same way. This claim is made as charter schools, such as PAVE academy, are run and staffed with persons who do not have significant experience, advanced degrees in education or. in many cases. even the proper licensing and certification.
It is insulting to dedicated teachers, parents, and public schools everywhere to suggest that the only answer to reforming education is to have privileged, business−minded folks come into to our neediest communities and ‘save the day.’
No one here is asking for saving; what we are asking for is a voice in this debate, the right to advocate for what we think is best for our children and our community and, frankly, in this very specific case, we want to protect our school and we want PAVE to be held to the agreement they made.
This community did not largely support PAVE being housed in Public School 15, their voices were ignored then, but we refuse to allow them to be ignored now. While we can hear Mr. Robertson’s claims of difficulty finding space, that is not our problem. He has had a year to acquire space and nothing has been acquired. That is his responsibility, not the responsibility of Public School 15, or its community, and we should not have to bare the burden. We are not against PAVE’s existence in a place where it will not strain our school, and we support parents in choosing where they would like their child to attend school.
The frame of the debate is this: Let charter schools succeed on their own merit, hold them to the same standards, do not burden or dismantle public schools to privilege charter schools, and listen to the voices of the stakeholders – parents, teachers, and students.
Public School 15 is not a “war zone.” Our staff and very professional administration have worked extremely hard to make the best of a very difficult situation. Parents and teachers do feel, and rightly so, very upset that PAVE wants to break their agreement and stay longer, which would have a huge negative impact on our school.
No one said that the students in PAVE accosted anyone. There are many issues with sharing space and incidents have happened, most of the safety issues were due to improper handling by the PAVE administration. The children of PAVE are the children of Red Hook, just like Public School 15 students; parents nor teachers have said, or will say, anything negative about them.
Robertson’s claim of “small incidents,” such as failing drills, propping fire doors open, an intruder in the building, and several other large incidents that we are too professional to put out in public, have occurred and while I am sure that other schools who share space face these incidents that is exactly our point.Why should we have our time and resources drained to deal with another school’s issues?
The Good Shepherd Services runs a program that has been serving the children of Red Hook for years. In order to extend the program and change the program for PAVE it would require additional cost that PAVE was asked to cover. The alternative would have been to take away services that were already being provided to students who attend Public School 15. Surely, Mr. Robertson and PAVE parents would not want to divert services from the children of the Red Hook Community. Robertson made it sound like Good Shepherd simply wanted money. That is not true.
Again, with the time for meals: There are students, who are already being served and whose school this is. Why should they have to sacrifice a system and schedule that has been successful for years in order to preference those who are ‘temporarily’ housed in this building?
Robertson says that they want to be out and in their own space: He has been planning this school since at least 2006, they have been housed in Public School 15 for a full year and they have no building, not a lease, not a plan? Building takes years and, furthermore, Robertson has misinformed this community on several issues, so forgive us if we perceive a clear intent to take this building.
Recently, three Public School 15 teachers were walking in the hallway and a PAVE teacher stopped them and said, “Welcome to PAVE Academy,” that speaks volumes.
Of Public School 15”
A toxic Fourth of July
To The Editor:
What ever happened to the good old days when the worst things we had to fear on the 4th of July were traffic jams and wayward fireworks?
According to the USDA’s Meat & Poultry Hot−line, this year’s top threat is food poisoning by nasty E. coli and Salmonella bugs lurking in hamburgers and hot dogs at millions of backyard barbecues. The hotline’s advice is to grill them longer and hotter. Of course, they don’t bother to mention that the high−temperature grilling that kills the bugs also forms lots of cancer−causing compounds.
Luckily, a bunch of enterprising food manufacturers and processors have met this challenge head−on by developing a great variety of healthful, delicious, and convenient, veggie burgers and soy dogs. These new foods don’t harbor nasty pathogens, or cancer−causing compounds. They don’t even carry cholesterol, saturated fats, drugs, or pesticides. And, they are available in the frozen food section of every supermarket.
This 4th of July offers a great opportunity to declare our independence from the meat industry and to share wholesome veggie burgers and soy dogs with our family and friends.