Friday, August 04, 2006

Let Them Eat Cake

While 1.1 million New York City students get by on scraps, and 75% of NYC's high schools suffer from overcrowding, billionaire Courtney Ross gets to reject sites for her charter school. The NEST school, largely improved and supported by NYC parents, was not the first choice after all.

Before opting for space at NEST, the founder of Ross, Courtney Sales Ross, had been shown space on the top floor of P.S. 147 on Bushwick Avenue in the remote eastern reaches of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, across from a housing project.

Ms. Ross rejected that space.

If this doesn't prove that Ms. Ross's charter is more important to Bloomberg than the schools the overwhelming majority of NYC kids attend, I don't know what does.

Here's a comment from Norm Scott:

The space at PS 147 in Williamsburg in Brooklyn (not the fancy part) that Courtney Sales Ross rejected included the amazingly large space of the classroom I taught in for 27 years on the 4th floor. The entire floor is empty of kids now except for the computer lab. An old building but in fabulous shape with high ceilings and big rooms, yet Ross tried to squeeze into NEST with the support of Klein when the PS 147 space was clearly empty and available. Then she gets further rewarded with space at Tweed.

Why did Ross reject this space? Maybe because she would have to accept kids from the projects across the street? Or maybe the neighborhood is just not chi-chi enough for Ms. Ross? Poor dear. She would have had to go into Brooklyn to visit her school.

Actually, it doesn't much matter to me why she rejected it. The fact that she had such an option, while I teach in trailers behind a building at 250% capacity, shows clearly that "Children First" doesn't actually apply to those attending public schools.

It also takes a great deal of wind out of the sails of those who called the parents of the NEST kids racist for fighting this mayor. They worked to make a great school and wanted to preserve it. Despite the lip service this administration pays to parental involvement, when these parents actually put hundreds of thousands of their own dollars into a school they loved, what was Mayor Bloomberg's response?

He tried to cut it into pieces. Thanks, Mayor Bloomberg. Doubtless scores of parents will work to improve the decrepit buildings you offer their children, so that you can give them away to petulant billionaires.

It's the trickle-down theory. If you aren't a billionaire, don't forget your umbrella.
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