Sunday, March 12, 2006

Part of the problem or part of the solution?

Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2006 18:56:36 -0500
From: "Sarah Morgridge"
To: Reysmont

Subject: Manhattan Times Editorial on Capital Plan for District 6

Only occasionally does one get to feel this understood. I think this is an eloquent summary of what many of us have been struggling to say on behalf of our community. Now is the time to stand up and say this in our own words or, at the very least, show up and be counted nodding our heads in agreement. Many thanks to those of you who responded so positively to my prior email with the flyer announcements - please do share this as well. Printing out and posting in your buildings would be really terrific. Distributing on to others my email also appreciated.
Hope to see many of you on the 16th.-- Sarah Morgridge

Vol. 7 no. 10 MARCH 9 - MARCH 15, 2006 :: WASHINGTON HEIGHtS/EAST HARLEM edition

Part of the problem or part of the solution?

The building that houses I.S. 218 opened in 1993. Less than 15 years later, it is surrounded by scaffolding for emergency repairs to its fa�ade. Back then, it had a student capacity of 1,210 and rooms dedicated to hands-on learning activities, such as a shop where students disassembled old bikes and used the parts to rebuild and sell new ones. The latest capacity figure for the Broadway school is 1,654 students. The building, evidently sponge-like, absorbed the additional 444 students by converting some of its activity rooms, such as the bike shop, into general classrooms. I.S. 218 was built with science labs, but the water and gas have been turned off in them because the faucets were repeatedly broken by students. The fact that the school is also slated for work on its only 12-year-old ventilation and intercom systems � plus that scaffolding out front � begs the question of how sturdy the plumbing was in the first place.

I.S. 218 will be the site of a public hearing next week hosted by the District 6 Community Education Council (CEC), in partnership with Community Board 12 and the district�s parent association, to give testimony about how the Department of Education�s (DOE) plan for building and repairing local schools does not adequately address the needs of Northern Manhattan�s students.

In one manner, the hearing is an empty exercise: the Panel for Educational Policy last month voted to approve the current version of the School Construction Authority�s (SCA) capital plan. Nevertheless, this is the single most important public education meeting that will happen this school year.

It is the opportunity for this community to argue that the city must take a new approach to anaging its school facilities, from calculating class size to prioritizing repair work.

And there is precedent for this community�s voice to make a difference.

When the SCA capital plan was released in 2003 and only budgeted one 441-seat school for District 6, what was then, and now, one of the city�s most crowded, the anger from the community, long simmering, boiled over during an hourslong CEC public hearing. Much like the hearing scheduled for next week.

Local education leaders crafted a careful analysis of local schools and countered the DOE plan that night and, coupled with the standing that City Council Member Robert Jackson holds in education circles, swayed the SCA: two additional schools were added to the plan.

Like then, the DOE�s decisions are guided by the belief that Northern Manhattan�s school-age population will decrease in the coming years. A lot.

The Grier report that is the cornerstone of the DOE�s construction plan predicts that by 2013 there will be 24 percent fewer children in Washington Heights and Inwood, making additional schools unnecessary.

During testimony next week, local education leaders are expected to argue against that steep of a population decline, reminding the SCA of the difficulty in predicting population trends in immigrant communities, and quoting new data such as a recent New York Times article that foresees the city�s population hitting nine million, to argue that more than the three schools currently slated for construction are needed uptown.

Of course plans for two of those schools only exist on paper � sites for them still have not been located and funding for the nails, mortar, and labor to construct them are still locked away in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit, decided in favor of the city�s students, but held up on appeal by Governor George Pataki.

Nevertheless, local education leaders are going to make the case next week that our students, and by extension all the city�s students, deserve better, that despite the lack of money, spineless political will in Albany, questionable (to be charitable) numbers driving DOE decisions, we must reassess the environment we provide for educating our young.

It starts with building and maintaining schools that are properly equipped and configured to facilitate the learning process, schools that are overseen by creative and talented administrators and educators. It includes parents who have the support and resources to reinforce their children�s studies. It also activates the surrounding community, call it a village if you must, where everyone has a personal stake in improving our next generation of leaders. It includes you, doing nothing more than showing up next Thursday, aking a seat in an auditorium with hundreds of other like-minded individuals, creating a sea change in how we educate our young.
It ends with students who need to observe adults working to improve what are cramped, roken-down schools. If children see adults treating the educational environment with respect, it will help inspire them to approach learning with the confidence that it will change their lives.

Otherwise, spending the day in a crumbling school in crowded classrooms where hands-on activities have been taken away and the water turned off starts to feel like a punishment.

The public hearing on the city�s school capital plan, conducted simultaneously in English and Spanish, will be held Thu., Mar. 16 at 7 p.m. at I.S. 218, 4600 Broadway at W. 196th Street.



Parte del problema o parte de la soluci�n? ?
I.S. 218

El edificio donde est� ubicada la escuela IS 218, abri� las puertas en el 1993. Han pasado menos de 15 a�os y la fachada del edificio ya est� cubierta de andamiaje mientras se hacen arreglos de emergencia.

Cuando abri�, el edificio ten�a capacidad de 1,210 alumnos, con salones dedicados a actividades como talleres de trabajo donde estudiantes desarmaban bicicletas viejas y usaban las piezas para construir y vender nuevas.

Ultimamente la capacidad de la escuela en Broadway es de 1,654 alumnos.
El edificio ha asumido el aumento convirtiendo salones como el de arreglo de bicicletas en ulas. La escuela fue construida con un laboratorio de ciencia, pero tanto el agua como el gas en el laboratorio han sido desconectados ya que estudiantes repetidamente rompieron la tuber�a que conduc�a las mismas.

Pero el hecho que la escuela necesita arreglos en su sistemas de ventilaci�n y comunicac�on tan solo 12 a�os despu�s de que estos fueran instalados indica que tal vez estos sistemas no fueran bien instalados desde un principio.

La IS 218 ser� donde se celebrar� la pr�xima audiencia p�blica para dar testimonio que el plan para construir y reparar escuelas en nuestra area no refleja las necesidades de los estudiantes del norte de Manhattan. La reuni�n est� organizada por el Concejo de Educaci�n Comunitario (CEC) del Distrito 6 junto con la asociaci�n de padres del distrito y la junta comunal 12.

De una forma, la audiencia es un ejercicio in�til ya que el Panel for Educational Policy vot� el mes pasado para aprobar el nuevo plan de construcci�n de la Autoridad de Construcci�n Escolar (conocida en ingl�s por sus siglas SCA). Sin embargo est� ser� la m�s importante reuni�n sobre la educaci�n p�blica que se celebrar� durante este a�o escolar. Es una oportunidad para que la comunidad le diga a la ciudad que tiene que establecer nuevas formas de administrar sus escuelas, desde la forma de calcular el tama�o de las clases a como priorizar los trabajos de arreglos por hacer en las escuelas.

Hay precedente para que la voz de esta comunidad logre una diferencia. En el 2003 cuando se dio a conocer el plan de construcci�n del SCA y solo aparec�a un asiento para el Distrito 6, el cual es uno de los m�s sobre poblados en la ciudad, la furia de la communidad se sinti� durante la larga audiencia p�blica del CEC.

El resultado fue que los l�deres educativos locales construyeron un an�lisis sobre las escuelas locales contradiciendo el plan del Departamento de Educaci�n, y ese plan junto con el apoyo que tiene el concejal Robert Jackson en los c�rculos educativos, convenci� al SCA a que a�adiera dos escuelas al plan.

Las decisiones del DOE son informadas por la idea de que la poblaci�n de estudiantes en el Alto Manhattan disminuar� en los pr�ximos a�os. El reporte Grier el cual sirve como la base del plan de construcci�n del DOE, pronostica que para el 2013 habr� 24 porciento menos ni�os en Washington Heights y Inwood, haciendo la a�adidura de m�s escuelas innecesaria.

Durante el testimonio de la semana que viene los l�deres educativos locales presentar�n datos contrarios como la dificultad de pronosticar tendencias en las comunidades de inmigrantes y citar�n un art�culo recien publicado en el New York Times que anticipa la poblaci�n de la ciudad llegando a nueve billiones en el futuro, necesitando as� la construcci�n de m�s de la tres escuelas actualmente programadas para construcci�n en el Alto Manhattan.

Claro est� que los planes para dos de estas escuelas solo existen en papel�los sitios no han sido escogidos y los recursos para clavos, ladrillos and mano de obra siguen atados por la apelaci�n del Gobernador Pataki a la demanda de la Camapa�a Para Equidad Fiscal.

Sin embargo, los l�deres del Distrito 6 argumentar�n que nuestros estudiantes, y su vez los estudiantes en toda la ciudad, merecen algo mejor de lo que se les est� dando en estos momentos. Que a pesar de la falta de fondos, la cobard�a de l�deres en Albany, y dudosas cifras usadas por DOE, tenemos que reanalizar el ambiente en donde estamos educando a nuestros j�venes. Esto comienza con la construcci�n y mantenimiento de escuelas bien dise�adas y equipadas para facilitar el proceso educativo. Incluye a padres que tienen el apoyo y los recursos para resforzar los estudios de sus hijos y alentar a la comunidad para que todos est�n invertidos en mejorar la pr�xima generaci�n de l�deres.

Tambi�n depende de usted. Re�nase el pr�ximo jueves en el auditorio con otros cientos de personas interesados en cambiar como educamos a nuestra juventud.

Todo esto termina con estudiantes viendo por si mismos que los adultos se interesan en la cuestion de su educaci�n promovi�ndolos a dedicarse nuevamente a sus estudios con la confianza que cambiar� a sus vidas.

La audiencia p�blica sobre el plan capital de la ciudad, la cual ser� bilingue, tomar� lugar el jueves 16 de marzo a las 7:00 de la noche en la IS 218, 4600 Broadway y la calle W. 196.

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