'Save my school': Students to join rally at PEP meeting

NAYABA ARINDE Amsterdam News Editor | 2/9/2012, 3:39 p.m.

"As taxpayers, we expect the New York City DOE to put the children first," stated the PTA for Cambria Heights Academy, which is asking New York City's Department of Education (DOE) not to cram children into a building by approving a proposed co-location with M.S. Q72.

There will be hundreds of parents, students and United Federation of Teachers (UFT) members rallying outside the DOE's Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) meeting on Thursday, Feb. 9 at Brooklyn Technical High School. There, the PEP will determine the fate of 23 public schools that have been slated for closure. The UFT and its president, Michael Mulgrew, invited the general public to attend the demonstration.

"Please don't close my school! This school is like my second home and it means everything to me. If I have a problem at home, the teachers help me solve it. I love this school so much." These are the words of 14-year-old Charene Noel, who implored a panel at a joint hearing for Satellite III, which Mayor Michael Bloomberg's DOE has slated for phaseout and co-location of a yet another new middle school.

Maxwell High School, I.S. 298, Academy of Business and Community Development are among the 25 schools that the PEP will vote on this Thursday.

Parents, clergy, advocates and members of the UFT will assemble at Brooklyn Tech and march to P.S. 20, 225 Adelphi St., for a "People's Panel for Public Education." The People's Panel will hear from the schools the DOE plans to close.

"Bloomberg is a failure," said Council Member Charles Barron. "We must end mayoral control of schools. That's why Bloomberg is known by 'Mayor 13%' because only 13 percent of Black and Latino students are prepared for college. The public school system has suffered under Bloomberg. His closing public schools to open charter schools is just his way of privatizing our public schools."

"The charter schools are the private schools for the minority community," Bloomberg told the Amsterdam News in a one-on-one interview with this reporter, back in October 2006. Asked then why private schools could not be the private schools for what he called "minority' students, Bloomberg replied. "Not everyone can get into Stuyvesant or Bronx Science."

With just over a year and change left on his third term, the mayor is pushing ahead to create 50 more charters in public school spaces.

Barron is among many activists and observers noting that drastic budget cuts, revolving doors of staff and general citywide instability perpetrated by Bloomberg's DOE have created an environment like a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby the same players can now come in and say "Ah ha-the schools are failing. Lets change them up."

Olayemi Odesanya, 13, is graduating to go to high school in September, yet the eighth grader is passionate about trying to save her current school, Satellite III. "Because I am leaving Satellite III, I should just focus on going to high school, but I feel that they should not have chosen to phase out Satellite III.