Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chris Owens Statement on Proposed Charter School in P.S. 9 - Hon. Chris Owens - NY State Democratic Committee, 52nd AD

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chris Owens  718-514-4874

Chris Owens Says "No" To Charter Placement At P.S. 9
"Let P.S. 9 Grow" and "Save M.S. 571" make sense to former Community School Board President  

   On Monday, January 24th, Democratic State Committee member and former Community School Board 13 President Chris Owens spoke to a crowd of public school parents and community leaders packed into the auditorium of Public School 9 in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn for a public hearing sponsored by the New York City Department of Education. 

   The hearing was focused upon two proposals that will be put forward for a vote at the next Panel for Educational Policy meeting on Thursday, February 3rd.  The first proposal is to close down Middle School 571, a small middle school that the New York City Department of Education has determined is failing.  The second proposal is to place a currently homeless Charter school in the P.S. 9 building.  Owens opposes both proposals.  "It is the administration, teachers, parents and students of P.S. 9 who will be the biggest losers as a result of the DOE's proposal to place a Charter school in the P.S. 9 building," he declared.

   Chris Owens, a member of the Deny Waiver Coalition, supports the ongoing mobilization of parents, students and community members to protest the closing of schools and the co-location of Charter schools.  The next event is a
Rally on Thursday, January 27th, 4:30 PM, on the east side of City Hall Park near the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge.  Following this rally there will be actions on February 1st, February 3rd and March 1st as well.

   In his statement read to the Monday meeting at P.S. 9, Owens recalled his days as a P.S. 9 student back in the 1960s and 1970s, when he was the Salutatorian and involved with music, student government and drama, and when his mother was the PTA President.

   Owens touched upon certain themes.  First, he objected to the closing of M.S. 571.  "Instead of investing in M.S. 571 in a manner that will help it succeed with an important demographic that is underserved throughout the City of New York -- and instead of allowing M.S. 571 to remain a lesser intrusion on elementary school life at P.S. 9 -- the DOE is abandoning the school and bringing a major intrusion that is far less likely to serve the underserved Special Needs and ELL population," he said.

   Owens then demanded that the Charter school not be placed in P.S. 9.  "The Charter school is what it is and it needs space, but it remains an inappropriate institution to co-locate within P.S. 9," he stated.  "The DOE has an obligation to find appropriate space for Charter schools -- and appropriate space means space that is not already utilized and needed by other public school students."

   The principle of co-locating Charter schools within other public school buildings was Owens' additional target.  "If we have the space, we should be enhancing the programmatic offerings of the home school in order to attract more families back to the home school by improving the quality of education at the home school," he stated.  "My love of singing, orchestral music, drama and public speaking was developed in P.S. 9 classrooms that were not extremely overcrowded, nor during lunch hours that were at ridiculous times of the day." 
Owens identified himself as a Board member of a Charter school that has its own building. 

   Owens also challenged the DOE's planning and analysis with regard to these proposals, noting that the demographics of the Prospect Heights community will justify leaving P.S. 9 alone or, at a minimum, allowing a small number of middle school students to be part of a unified K through 8 educational community.

   "Instead of an increasingly successful elementary school environment, P.S. 9 will endure competition between three schools for space and scheduling during the next few years - endangering the progress of all three schools," said Owens.  "After these rough transition years, there will remain two completely unaffiliated schools operating within the same building.  This is not a way to attract families to P.S. 9 or to the Charter school."

   For the full text of Chris Owens' testimony, click here.
                                                # # # 


   CHRIS OWENS is the male New York Democratic State Committee member and District Leader from the 52nd Assembly District in northwest Brooklyn, New York.  The 52nd AD includes the communities of Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Downtown Brookyn, DUMBO, Gowanus, Park Slope and Prospect Heights.  
   THE 52nd ASSEMBLY DISTRICT is represented by Joan Millman in the NY State Assembly, State Senators Velmanette Montgomery, Eric Adams and Daniel Squadron, City Councilmembers Letitia James, Brad Lander and Steve Levin, and U.S. Representatives Nydia Velazquez, Edolphus Towns and Yvette Clarke.  The female Democratic State Committee member and District Leader is Jo Anne Simon.

1 comment:

Catherine in Prospect Heights said...

Thanks to you, Chris Owens - and to Jo Anne Simon and Letitia James as well - for your support of PS 9/MS 571. As a PS 9 parent, we all stand together against the DOE's proposed co-location of PS 9/MS 571/Brooklyn East Collegiate charter school. Three schools in the 80 Underhill Avenue building is simply TOO MANY SCHOOLS and UNFAIR TO ALL THREE SCHOOLS AND THEIR STUDENTS. PS 9 parents and school leaders request a transformational model for MS 571 - in essence re-creating it as a middle school extension of PS 9. Brooklyn East Collegiate(BEC) has many other location options and the school was originally chartered for District 23, but now resides in District 17 - in a building owned by their network, Uncommon Schools. Why they should suddenly need to reside District 13 after jumping around from two other Districts is anyone's guess (Wait a minute - Atlantic Yards and Uncommon Schools? Develop Don't Destroy?...hmmmm... sounds terribly familiar!)... But if they need to be here - let them move into the DOE building on the corner of Park Place and Underhill Avenue, just two blocks away from PS 9. The temporary high school residing there is getting ready to move out - just in time! With their charter's corporate backing, BEC has resources - they don't truly need the 80 Underhill Avenue building. The same cannot be said of PS 9/MS 571. There's no way out for either of the current schools - except to "fail". DOE and PEP Panel members - please rethink this plan that will clearly harm the learning environment at all three schools - PS 9/MS 571/BEC. The plan states that should PS 9 grow to scale as it currently appears that it will, the DOE reserves the right to move Brooklyn East Collegiate out again, after just two years. You'd think the BEC leadership and parents would want a stable home for their children. At the public hearing, which I attended, BEC's people clearly stated that they want only the best for their students - wouldn't that include a suitable location and hospitable learning environment?