Millennium approaches! City backs new elite school inside John Jay

The Brooklyn Paper
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A new selective public school will open inside the John Jay HS building in Park Slope despite an outcry from students and teachers who say the decision encourages racial segregation.

But as the city’s Panel for Education Policy unanimously voted on Wednesday night to put the new Millennium Brooklyn HS inside the troubled Seventh Avenue building, the principal of the new school said she would “absolutely not support” a separate entrance for her elite students that would separate them from the mostly minority student body that passes through a metal detector to get to the building’s existing three high schools.

“I plan to recruit and maintain a diverse population [so] I would absolutely not support [a separate entrance],” said Principal Lisa Gioe.

Millennium Brooklyn, modeled on a successful elite public school in Manhattan, will share space with three existing small, largely minority schools, whose parents and teachers opposed the new high school, which will benefit from increased funding and start-up money not available to the existing schools.

“The city didn’t listen to a thing we said,” said Maria Braga, a teacher inside the John Jay HS building. “The hearing was just a rubber stamp.”

Other foes waved signs reading “Separate is not equal!” and shouted, “Shame on you!” as Department of Education officials tried to speak. Officials had to pause frequently to ask for quiet and for people to sit down.

Mostly, protesters said that the Department of Education did a poor job connecting with, and listening to, them during the entire debate over the Millennium siting. (And it didn’t help that one member of the voting panel was checking e-mails for over an hour during the public hearing.)

“It’s an outrage,” said Assemblyman Jim Brennan (D–Park Slope). “The whole decision-making process is a sham.”

Fear about racism and segregation fueled a protest in front of the beleaguered Seventh Avenue campus last week — but the larger issue, namely unequal funding, remains a subtext.

The new school will get about $35,000 more per year than the three existing schools in the building. That money is slated for computers, desks, blackboards and other goodies for the first five years — cash that the current schools never saw.

An Education Department spokesman said last week that Millennium is simply benefiting from a policy a start-up policy and that existing schools were not new when they moved onto the campus.

But principals and teachers at the John Jay HS say their crumbling facilities should have put them first on the list for city cash.

“They should give us the funding we never got,” said Helena Ortiz, who teaches history at the John Jay campus. “And they should make an effort to integrate.”

The teachers have an ally in Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope).

“[The department] should invest resources equally,” he said. “There are deep grievances about equality in our education system.”

In Manhattan, Millennium students receive higher per-student expenditure rates than kids at John Jay HS. At the Secondary School of Law, students get $16,973 annually while Millennium students receive $18,103.

For years, John Jay HS has been the epicenter of a strange neighborhood phenomenon: The school is an island of color in largely white Park Slope, where mostly minority students must commute from outside the neighborhood.

That history — and the ensuing tension — played a part in the protest in front of the building last week, when teachers and kids chanted, “Hey, ho! Racism has got to go!”

Six percent of students at John Jay HS are white; 36 percent are black; 50 percent are Hispanic and seven percent are Asian. By contrast, 35 percent of Millennium students in Manhattan are white.

The Department of Education says it expects the demographic of Millennium Brooklyn to be diverse and that all schools will “collaborate successful­ly.” More than half of the city’s schools share buildings with other schools and “start-up” money goes to all new schools.

Updated 5:22 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

cr from red hook says:
i think it's irresponsible to be shouting "racism" and calling a school "elite" before it's even a reality. there IS no student population yet. and if you were to look at Ms. Gioe's middle school community, i think you'll find a very diverse group of kids from all ethnicities and socio-economic groups. and aren't we all new yorkers?!
Jan. 20, 2011, 2:36 pm
ab from UES says:
I would agree with cr. There is yet to be a student population so are the protestors just taking the words "elite" and "selective" and assuming there will be racisim. The above report says that the Manhattan version of the school is 35% white which would not indicate racism. Just because that is 29% higher than the other schools that share the building means nothing and that is assuming the percentages will be the same. By crying racisim already all you are doing is trying to create a situation in which the millennium students have no choice but to separate themselves as they will experiance the tension from their fellow students at the other schools in the building from those students: if they ask like kids typically do this will be in the form of bullying and flighting.
Jan. 20, 2011, 3:15 pm
MMS from Slope says:
Elite? Oh, please. This school will be a default school for applicants shot down at Bard, Beacon, Stuy, Midwood, Bard (Queens), Brooklyn Latin, Nest, Hunter, ICE, La Guardia, Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech, Millennium (Manhattan) Apartheid one) Roosevelt and several other genuinely elite schools.

I'm not so sure Brownstone Brooklyn progressives will leap with great alacrity to send their children to a segregated school to study alongside autistic children in a poorly run inclusion program at a school teeming with racial tension and justifiable outrage.

Everyone who huddled up in the dark to hatch this racist plan should be ashamed.

I feel sorry for any child whose parents are fool enough to send him or her to that school in September.

For more on this read "Fast One at Apartheid High."
Jan. 20, 2011, 10:37 pm
Paul from Boerum Hill says:
At least Cathie Black got booed. Not that anybody would know that if they only read the Brooklyn Paper coverage. The story really should cover that aspect to underscore the contempt the DOE has for the people of this city. Good for Jim Brennan for calling it like it is! A sham, all the way around. The question is, now what do we do about it?
Jan. 21, 2011, 12:21 am
petunia from park slope says:
Michele Somerville's coverage on this issue has been ill-informed, irresponsible and manipulative, so I'm not at all surprised at her comment above, where she's trying to trash a very promising, inclusive school before it even exists. Stoking racial tensions may boost your page views, but it does nothing to help the current students at the JJ schools. At the meeting I attended, the students at the existing schools were openly voicing their hostility towards the new school, when the blame for the poor conditions at JJ lies squarely w/ the DOE. A quick check on the profiles for Millennium and MS 447 shows a diverse student body. The "apartheid" comment is cynical and shoddy. Any kid from Brooklyn with good grades will now have another option, in a borough that is lacking them. Yes, fix the problems at John Jay, but Millennium 2 does not deserve the scapegoating it is currently receiving, with MMS as the head cheerleader.
Jan. 21, 2011, 10:46 am
furtg from Downtown says:
In support of MMS who said "…default school for applicants shot down at Bard, Beacon, Stuy, Midwood, Bard (Queens), Brooklyn Latin, Nest, Hunter, ICE, La Guardia, Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech, Millennium (Manhattan) Apartheid one) Roosevelt and several other genuinely elite schools"

Did you notice that only 2 of the "elite schools" are in Brooklyn?

Brooklyn parents (to the annoyance of Manhattanite parents) send their kids to NYC to out-perform the "locals" (again to the annoyance). With more and more great students living in Brooklyn, shouldn't they have a choice to stay closer to home?

Why should they travel so far because the remaining Brooklyn schools can't function as well as they could due to small populations of unruly children who prevent proper teaching of the rest?

The protesting schools should do more to stamp down the behavior of the few who give their schools a bad reputation. Explain exactly why the behavior is bad — DOE and parents be-damned if they don't like the words. Stop being afraid to lose your jobs because you say the truth. The metal detectors are for the 3-10% who cause trouble. The rest of the kids just want to learn and give up when they don't see it happening.

And then the whole city and country suffers because kids have an incomplete education.
Jan. 21, 2011, 11:33 am
mg from Slope says:
Compare the populations of some well known testing school with the secondary schools’ population. (Numbers are %) There is an almost inverse relationship.
Mil Stuy Bx Sci Bk Tech SS Research SS Law SS Journal
Bl & Hisp 34.1 4.6 11 20.3 81.2 90.2 89.4
Wh & As 63.5 95.1 86 79.3 12.9 8.8 9.7

(This data is compiled from the DoE school portals for each school and can be found in the statistics and budget section under “CEP School Demographics and Accountability Snapshot 2009-2010” )
connecting large sums of money with a probable demographic shift is institutional racism by definition. People who argue that it judging before creation is inapropriate should read the EIS on the new Millennium to see is supposed to be elite.
Jan. 21, 2011, 11:51 am
furtg from downtown says:
The selection process for the new Millennium is having a 3.0. People should be offended that both sides are assuming that "Apartheid High"'s 3.0 students can only be white. What kind of low self-esteem do the protestors have and shameful narcissism on the other side? The excellent non-white students aren't interested in the existing John Jay schools, either, and their parents make sure they go elsewhere.
Jan. 21, 2011, 12:01 pm
Alissa Lembo from Prospect Heights says:
Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld, a spokesman for the New York City Department of Education, said the Millennium school is a practical response to PARK SLOPE parents who are demanding a more competitive academic program closer to their homes. ( This school is being created for them.

FACT: Park Slope is 77% white. One can put two and two together and foresee that MB will be a predominately white school.

FACT: The three schools in the John Jay Building are comprised of predominately black and Latino students.

FACT: The three schools in the John Jay Building have requested but have been denied major capital improvements to the facility and have been egregiously under-funded for years. The three schools were also denied the new school start-up funds when they were placed in the building, merged into one school and then separated again into three. These funds could have addressed some of the issues with the century-old building (which is, quite literally falling down around us) as well as allowed the schools to set up permanent structures to meet the needs of co-located schools that are placed in a building that was originally set up for only one.

FACT: Now that there is a school that is being created for white Park Slope children there is suddenly MILLIONS of dollars for capitol improvements and renovations to address these needs.

Apparently, the needs and demands of the three schools that have been in the building for the last 10 years do not matter to the DOE. They have not been met. Apparently, the needs and demands of Park Slope parents do matter. They are going to be met. What would you call that? At the very least, it is unfair. At the worst, and really, let’s not be naïve, it is racism. Why should anything on the unfair-racist spectrum be tolerated?

The racism that exists in public education in this country and in this city is real. And ALL students have the right to a clean, modernized and functioning school building as well as "high-quality" educational opportunities.
Jan. 21, 2011, 11:32 pm
lk from downtown says:

Your comment about students on the autistic spectrum is ignorant and beyond rude.

My autistic child is in a co-taught class with other students. He is an excellent student who gets as good or better grades than many of his non-disabled counterparts, and nobody has a problem studying alongside him.

How dare you imply he doesn't belong there. How dare you insult students with disabilities in this manner.

I suspect that, sadly, you have children and have passed along your small-minded and uninformed opinions about children with disabilities to them.

For shame!
Jan. 21, 2011, 11:44 pm
John from Park Slope says:
Cut the rasist BS. A bunch of people who don't work, need something to gather and bs about.
Jan. 22, 2011, 10:58 am
bkparent from Windsor Terrace says:
My child is at MS 447 and has been in a class with kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders for two years. The students really don't even make that distinction among themselves -- all are treated as equals. My son's best friend has an Autism Spectrum Disorder but to tell the truth, its not even a point worth discussing for these kids.

I love MS 447 for its high standards across the curriculum, its focus on math and science, its racial, ethnic and religious diversity, and its inclusive culture. I am certain the new high school headed by Lisa Gioe will be a huge benefit to Brooklyn and will well serve its high performing students of every race creed and color.

I will be very pleased if my son is able to go to Millennium II and very, very grateful to Lisa Gioe for her incredibly hard work on behalf of the students of Brooklyn.
Jan. 23, 2011, 2:51 pm
447parent from Carroll Gardens says:
Millennium HS was going to be expanded either into lower Manhattan or Brooklyn - better Brooklyn than Manhattan. And even better, it will offer a much-needed HS program for kids with autism.

I also have a child at MS 447. It's a great school and there is no issue with kids with Autistic Spectrum Disorder being in the same class as everyone else. Many students aren't all that aware of which kids they are. So many high schools have some form of inclusion - why would anyone think this would be a problem?

As far as diversity, 447 is pretty socioeconomically and racially diverse - 35% W, 30% B, 26%H, 8% A. Millennium Manhattan is less diverse, but it does give preference within district 2. It looks like the Brooklyn Millennium will not be giving district preference and they are planning to actively recruit students of all ethnic backgrounds so it will very likely be more diverse than the Manhattan location. Give them a chance. There are lots of black and latino students in Brooklyn who can meet the admissions criteria and will want to apply. I bet many 447 kids are already interested since our principal is moving there.

If funding has been an issue at John Jay, hopefully all 4 schools will work together to get each school what it needs as well as better shared resources. Getting funding or not is not necessarily because of the racial make-up of the school. The NYC Harbor School has mostly black and latino students and they have a beautiful new facility on Governor's Island. Not to mention scuba classes (makes me want to go back to HS).

This has provided an opportunity to highlight funding needs at the schools currently at John Jay, so they should seize the moment and push hard on the DOE, which is where the funding comes from, rather than focusing the blame on the new school. DOE owns this building and there was space available in it - if it wasn't Millennium, some other new school would have been placed here.
Jan. 24, 2011, 1:18 am
Susan B. from Park Slope says:
I'm definitley for Millennium Brooklyn! It is disgusting that children have to learn in a school that is not 100% safe! I would never and I mean never allow mychildren to go to a school like that! I blame the parents for settling and allowing them to attend this school. I'm So sick of hearing about rasicm, I have lived in this neighborhood for more than 72 years and I went to JJ high school. If you don't like what's going on in the school take your kids out! It's always so much easier to play the race card! It has nothing to do with being whatever color you are it's the DOE!!! Again if your a parent your responsible for your children!! All I have to say is I live here and Park Slope deserves a high school in our community! Why didn't the teachers and students demenstrate when they seen how unsafe the school was?? Why now?? If you want to cry racsim I think Park Slope can!! All the "Other" neighborhoods do! Sunset Park has a brand new one! Anyway I have said enough...
Jan. 29, 2011, 1:11 am
lou from Windsor Terrace says:
The concerns and needs of neighborhood residents should always come first.The parents and students and quite possibly teachers that are ——ing and moaning do not even come from the PARK SLOPE COMMUNITY!!! These parents should not have to pay the price for others that decided to have broken families and not bring there children up right. Once again neighborhood residents first!!! They have the right before anyone to be able to send their children to safe schools and schools that meet their academic needs IN THEIR AREA.
April 13, 2011, 3:19 pm

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