P.S. 287 Parents Say No, No, No to KGIA

Last night the NYC Department of Education told Khalil Gibran International Academy’s PTA that their school was being relocated for the September 2008 school year.  After all the planning, the DOE has chosen a school that didn’t have the required space. 

Concerned NYC parents are once again confronted with the controversial KGIA affecting their children and school environment. Tonight Garth Harries, Officer of Portfolio Development, came to P.S. 287 in Fort Greene, Brooklyn to face an angry gathering of parents.  Their school has been chosen as KGIA’s new location.   

Precedents of DOE stonewalling and lack of transparency continue. 

On February 4th,

the PTA requested a copy of KGIA’s curriculum. 

Nothing has been forwarded. 

 A mother said she visited KGIA today.  A secretary came out and she “was poorly received”. She was not allowed in.  She asked Harries, “The school is so secretive, how can you ask us to have a school here if we don’t know what’s going on?”   

Another parent wanted to know, “How can we trust you when you lied to us about the high school (The School for Law and Justice) being here for one year?” Originally the high school was suppose to move after one year.  As is common DOE practice, parents are told this when in reality many years go by before a school is relocated.  The high school is leaving P.S. 287 after a four year stay.  Parents have been looking forward to next year when they would finally get their school back and reinstate programs lost when the high school moved in.  A parent noted that a high school is leaving the building and a middle and high school are entering.   

KGIA is moving in because the DOE says the building is under utilized.  However, parents maintain that the school lost enrollment when parents pulled their children out because older children were in the building.  Fears are high that enrollment will decrease should KGIA and its negative publicity move into their elementary school.  

Once again they are facing the problem of having teenagers mingle with pre-k, kindergarten, and elementary age school children.  One parent said, “It’s not safe to be with high school kids.  They’re out of control.  We can’t bring kids into the playground.”  A PTA President of another school described the dangerous practice of the DOE bringing middle and high school students into elementary schools. “Older kids beat up younger kids.”  Garth Harries’ answer was that this practice is happening all around the city. 

Harries was corrected by a parent when he told the gathering that the decision wasn’t final.  At a school leadership meeting three weeks ago DOE representative, Gabrielle Ferghetti, clearly stated to all that the move is a done deal. The PTA President explained, “She came to let us know.  She didn’t answer my questions.  It was a courtesy call.”   Harries apologized, responding, “That young lady works for me.  That’s not what she told me she said.”  The question with the DOE always remains, “Who is telling the truth?” 

After Harries repeatedly sang the praises of KGIA and justified its agenda several times, a mother expressed the frustration of many when she said, “Are you here to help all schools or are you here to focus on a particular race, religion, and community?  You’re focused on the success of KGIA.  You are not concerned with the success of our school.” 

A very savvy and knowledgeable group of parents gathered tonight to let the NYCDOE know that their community school and children would no longer be taken advantage of.  A hard-working community, many of whom are single-mothers, will not let the fact that the DOE thinks they are too busy and exhausted with earning a living to care about what’s happening with their children.  This group of parents will do whatever it takes.  As one parent said, “Tell Chancellor Klein, don’t send messages through you.  He’s not doing us a favor [by sending you].  Go back and tell the Chancellor the answer is no, no, no.  We want him here and we want Mayor Bloomberg here. Tell the Chancellor you don’t mix Church and State.”  Another parent added, “We as parents have the right to have what we want for our children.  They can only take what we allow them to take.” 

Paul Revere Brigade Covers KGIA

Thanks to the Paul Revere Brigade News and Debra Ferrell

Arab-American school draws fire in NYC

Criticism over Islamist Muslim content causes public Arab-American school to draw fire from New York City residents

“No one could get away with teaching Christianity in American public schools the way that Islam is being insinuated into the curriculum there,” observed Sara Springer, a New York City teacher and co-founder of Stop the Madrassa Coalition.

Stop the Madrassa is actively investigating and sharing information on the Khalil Gibran International Academy, which opened September 4, 2007 in Brooklyn NY.

This school shares space with the Brooklyn High School for the Arts and the Middle School for Math and Science Explorations.

KGIA is a public school supported by American tax dollars, and its mission is to teach the Arabic language and culture to New York schoolchildren. The state is no stranger to dual language schools – it operates more than 70.

But KGIA has attracted a landslide of negative publicity that the other schools have not, thanks in part to its controversial leaders and their connections to a variety of groups pushing militant agendas linked to extreme Islamist Muslim concepts – as well as known jihad terrorists.

As recently as last month, Stop the Madrassa has publicly called for the Department of Education to shut down KGIA since it “isn’t viable and not functioning safely,” a Stop the Madrassa statement said.

“The school had a very low enrollment of 50 pupils initially,” Springer said. “A department of education spokesman said they had 110 students enrolled and closed the application process.

“Apparently at a later date, administrators enrolled 10 special education students but didn’t provide them with a teacher, which is against the law,” she added.

“Parents are complaining that there’s chaos, and the learning environment isn’t conducive to educating children.”

Further investigations reveal that the school’s Arabic teacher admitted to supporters that KGIA has no curriculum, and she was copying and pasting Arabic letters for worksheets from Google sites.

“The school’s premise was to be an Arabic language and cultural school,” Springer said. “It’s evident that they didn’t plan at all if they have no curriculum for teaching the language.”

Springer questioned if the lack of educational scholarship left wide open doubt as to what was the intended purpose of the school.

That concern was perhaps best answered by Council on American Islamic Relations spokesman Ibrahim Hooper.

In a statement to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Hooper said, “I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future, but I’m not going to do anything violent to promote that. I’m going to do it through education.”

Coming up in the near future, Debra said a “Part Two” of this story will expose some of KGIA’s partnerships with several controversial groups.

Special to PRB News by Debra Ferrell, Virginia.

History Alive! The Medieval World

Reader comment on blog entry: “History Alive!,” Scottsdale Schools, and a Reader’s Comment at www.danielpipes.org

Submitted by Concerned Parent (United States), Feb 16, 2008 at 09:58Earlier this month I filed a formal challenge to the History Alive! The Medieval World textbook used at White Hill Middle School in Marin County, California. Although there are several reasons, my primary concern is that curriculum material is presented via the HAMW text (and accompanying Interactive Student Notebook) in an overtly religious manner that not only is inappropriate for a public school, but does not comport with actual state standards for seventh grade history relative to study of the civilizations of Islam.Recently, I came across an article I forwarded to the school district regarding “Dawa” in public schools. In case you are not familiar with the term, Dawa means, “to invite non-Muslims to accept the truth of Islam”:

Click here: DawaNet—to link • to serve: Dawa in public schools:

“The Bottom Line. We should use every opportunity to sensitize non-Muslim peers and school staff to Islam and to establish an environment in which everywhere a non-Muslim turns, he notices Islam portrayed in a positive way, is influenced by it and eventually accepts Islam with Allah’s guidance, Insha Allah (if God wills).”

Apparently some of the staff at the school are under the impression that I do not want my own child learning about different cultures or religions. Nothing could be further than the truth. However, while I believe that everyone should have the right to practice (or not) their religion freely and without persecution, I also believe it is unacceptable for children to be exposed to religious proselytizing at school. Our children should not only not be “influenced” — wittingly or not — to accept Islam (or any other religion), they should be protected from such “influence” in our public schools.

Concerned Parent

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Comments are screened for relevance, substance, and tone, and in some cases edited, before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome, but not hostile, libelous, or otherwise objectionable statements. Original writing only, please.