Revisionist History in the Classroom

After four separate Freedom of Information Law requests and four court hearings, the Department of Education has not responded to our demands for complete transparency.  The reason for KGIA’s existence is to teach the Arabic language and Arabic Culture; however, the curricula and textbooks have not been revealed.   As we pursue the truth, everyone continues to wonder exactly what is being taught in the Khalil Gibran International Academy.  Are they learning that Muslims discovered America?  If so, why?  The answer is that if the Islamists can establish their presence as the original inhabitants of North America then the land becomes part of the Ummah, the Islamic lands.  The caliphate now extends to the United States.  According to the open source Wikkipedia the Ummah is-

Present day meaning

Some modern Islamists use the term “Islamic Ummah” or “Muslim Ummah” to refer to all the people in the lands and countries where Muslims predominantly reside, and which were once under the control of the Islamic Caliphate. They thus include non-Muslim minorities as members of the ummah. Shariah (Islamic law) would apply to the citizens of the state. In such a unified “Islamic Umma,” the non-Muslim citizens would be subject to Dhimmi limitations and conditions.

The Council on American Islamic Relations has endorsed the school and stated that they are participating with KGIA.  See CAIR-NY-founded American Muslim Lawyers Association and the American Mideast Leadership Network, run by a Hezbollah apologist.  Considering its status as a  named unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land terrorist funding case and its years of plying Islamic literature to American Public Libraries the question is, “What have they supplied KGIA’s library with?”  This is just one of many questions we need answers to.

Following is a 2004 article reprinted from the American Thinker by Ed Lasky.  Islamic propaganda in American public schools has been exposed for years.  Exactly what was Mayor Bloomberg and the NYC Department of Education thinking when they endorsed and supported this school?

April 16, 2004

Your children may learn that Muslims discovered America

By Ed Lasky

A Native American tribe has forced distributors of an Arab studies guide for American teachers to remove an inaccurate and absurd passage that Muslim explorers preceded Columbus to North America, and eventually became Algonquin chiefs named Abdul—Rahim and Abdallah Ibn Malik!

The Middle East Policy Council, a Washington advocacy group that promotes this curriculum to school districts in 155 U.S. cities have apparently been somewhat unresponsive and dismissive of complaints. Ridiculous as this example is, it is illustrative of a far more disturbing development: the placement of propaganda in our schools by Muslim extremist groups. [Emphasis added] As the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation pointed out in a report issued this week titled, “The Stealth Curriculum:Manipulating America’s History Teachers” these efforts are intended “to use America’s public school classrooms to shape the minds of tomorrow’s citizens by manipulating what today’s teachers introducing into the lessons of today’s children”

The American Textbook Council has played a leading role in resisting Arab efforts to supply propaganda to our schools, and recently published a report, “Islam and the Textbooks”, by Gilbert T. Sewall, which reports this phenomenon. It can be found here.

These militants and their supporters have set their eyes on our children, and are attempting to brainwash them by supplying free textbooks which whitewash the truth regarding Muslim extremism, while promoting Arab and Palestinian political goals. These “teaching materials” also impugn and devalue America, Western nations, Israel. Judaism, and Christianity. The article, ‘Textbooks for Jihad,’ found here is a good analysis of these developments .

The Council  on American—Islamic Relations, some of whose members have been “outed” as terror supporters, has an active program to supply these this type of propaganda to libraries across the nation. Naturally, like schools, the librarians are more than happy to accept inexpensive, or free, material to fill their shelves. Yet these same books and audio—visual material are filling our children’s minds with lies that are tantamount to propaganda that teach hate. Efforts should be made by local activists and PTA or PTO members to scrutinize the reading lists at our “educational” institutions. [http://www.americanthinker.com/2004/04/your_children_may_learn_that_m.html]

Stop the Madrassa Press Release- “Open Letter from Educators”

Former SDS, Communist Party, and Weather Underground Extremists Defame Critics of Khalil Gibran Academy;
They Join Prior Supporters, Such as Cop-Killer Mumia Abu-Jamal and Rabbi Michael Paley, in Support of Almontaser & KGIA

New York, New York April 4, 2008 . Once again, radical Islamist groups and their enablers are attempting to silence American citizens through boycotts, name-calling, threats of lawsuits, defamatory accusations and other forms of intimidation.


This time,
as the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA) finds itself under new fire from angry parents in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn who feel KGIA is being imposed on their elementary school, hard Leftist KGIA supporters are attempting to bolster the failing “multi-cultural” experiment by defaming their critics. In a letter this week to Mayor Bloomberg, KGIA supporters label those who have questioned the creation, purpose, affiliates, management, and other issues regarding the Arabic school “a small group of fear-mongering bigots.”

Among those who signed the letter to Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein were a number of well- known former leaders of extremist Leftist organizations. For example, as reported by the open source Wikipedia, William Ayers, who is now at the
University of Illinois at Chicago, reportedly was “a Weather Underground member…. he became radicalized at the University of Michigan. During his years there, he became involved in the New Left and the SDS. Ayers went underground with several comrades after their co-conspirators’ bomb accidentally exploded on March 6, 1970, destroying a Greenwich Village townhouse and killing three members of the Weather Underground…. They avoided the police and FBI while bombing high-profile government buildings—including the United States Capitol (two bombs on March 1, 1970), The Pentagon (May 19, 1972), and the Harry S Truman Building which houses the United States Department of State (on January 29, 1975)—along with several banks, police department headquarters and precincts, state and federal courthouses, and state prison administrative offices. Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn raised two children, Zayd and Malik, underground before turning themselves in in 1981, when most charges were dropped because of prosecutorial misconduct during the long search for the fugitives…. Ayers published his memoirs in 2001 with the book Fugitive Days. His interview with the New York Times to promote his book was published on September 11, 200…. In this interview, he… was quoted as saying, “I don’t regret setting bombs; I feel we didn’t do enough.”…. In the fall of 2006, Ayers was asked not to attend a progressive educators’ conference on the basis that the organizers did not want to risk an association of their movement with his violent past. ”

Another of those defaming critics of KGIA is Michael Klonsky, of the Small Schools Workshop who, again according to the open source Wikipedia, “…helped organize the first chapter of Students for a Democratic Society in the area. He became active in national SDS early in 1967…. During his community organizing, Klonsky began developing a proto-Marxist ideology which emphasized community and worker organizing…. In late 1969, Klonsky founded the October League, a communist party which in 1977 became the Communist Party, Marxist-Leninist. He was elected the party’s chairman…. Klonsky made several trips to China beginning in July 1977, where he was warmly received by government and Communist Party of China officials and treated to state dinners… “
Stop the Madrassa Community Coalition (STM) has filed Freedom of Information Law requests to obtain complete information concerning textbooks, lesson plans and design documents to be used at KGIA. Because the DOE did not comply STM was forced to file an Article 78 petition in Manhattan Supreme Court. Not surprisingly the documents turned over pursuant to the FOIL requests substantiated STM concerns. To date the school does not have proper textbooks, curricla, or lesson plans for teaching middle and high school Arabic language and culture. What was discovered from FOIL requests is that KGIA was poorly designed and poorly thought-out. In recent months STM has stepped up its calls for immediate closure of KGIA, and expanded its fight nationwide to halt the imposition of radical Islamist agendas in curricula, Arab language programs, history classes, textbooks, teacher training, and charter schools. STM does not oppose the teaching of Arabic language or Arabic culture in a balanced public school curriculum offering several languages and covering all cultures.

We will not be silenced and we stand in solidarity with others who have been defamed or targeted for exposing the dangers of Islamo-fasxism and jihadism.


# # #

Stop the Madrassa Community Coalition is a grassroots organization working to
help parents and teachers investigate, expose and eliminate Islamist and other ideological influence on textbooks, curricula and courses. . For more information please visit www.stopthemadrassa.wordpress.org..

###

Text of Open Letter from Educators in Support of the Khalil Gibran International Academy and Principal Debbie Almontaser to:

Michael Bloomberg Joel Klein
Mayor of New York City Chancellor of New York City Department of Education
Dear Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein,
In 2007 the New York City Public Schools approved the establishment of the first-ever NY public school focusing on Arabic language and culture. This new small dual-language school, Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), addressed a need and dream of many in New York’s Arab communities. Leading the campaign for this specialty academy was Debbie Almontaser, a respected educator and community leader, who was selected to become the school’s founding principal.
Before the school ever opened its doors, Almontaser was forced to resign. When Debbie Almontaser was forced out as principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, a blow was struck against the rights and academic freedom of educators everywhere. Principal Almontaser was the guiding light and the pioneer behind the founding of the new school, which was envisioned as part of a vibrant small-schools movement fostering personalization, autonomy, and the empowerment of teachers.
A campaign of lies, racial fear, and anti-Arab prejudice, emanating from a conservative media group including the New York Post and supported by Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein, forced Almontaser from her post. Prior to and during the first semester of the school’s existence, Almontaser was replaced by two principals, neither of whom possesses her exceptional academic qualifications, her leadership capabilities, her relationship with the school community, nor her knowledge of Arabic language and culture.
KGIA was attacked by a small group of fear-mongering bigots. It was labeled a “terrorist school” and a “madrassa.” But this campaign of slander has been met by a broad coalition supporting the school and its intended principal, including leading organizations spanning the many diverse communities in New York. This coalition is pursuing every channel to restore Almontaser to her rightful position and to clear her name and her reputation.
Debbie Almontaser did nothing wrong. She committed no crime. She violated no rules nor any terms of her contract. She was forced to resign after doing nothing more than answering a reporter’s question about the root meaning of the word “intifada.”
For those of us working in the field of education, the treatment of Debbie Almontaser represents a threat not only to our rights as educators and citizens in a democratic society; it is also an attack on the small-schools movement and on the push for diversity and equity within our system of public education. Will bigotry be allowed to decide which public schools can exist and who can lead them?
We the undersigned insist that Debbie Almontaser be returned to her post as founding principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy.
Bernadette Anand, Bank Street Graduate School of Education
Gary Anderson, Steinhardt School of Education, N.Y.U.
Rick Ayers, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education
William Ayers, University of Illinois at Chicago
Carmen Colon, Association of NYC’s Educated Communities
Kathleen Cushman, Education Writer
Lisa Delpit, Center for Urban Education and Innovation, F.I.U.
Michelle Fine, The Graduate Center – City University of New York
Ofelia Garcia, Teachers College, Columbia University
Maxine Greene, Teachers College, Columbia University
Kris D. Gutierrez, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, UCLA
Paula Hajar, Bronx Charter School for Better Learning
Annette Henry, Education Program, University of Washington, Tacoma
Jay P. Heubert, Teachers College, Columbia University
Mike Klonsky, Small Schools Workshop
Susan Klonsky, Small Schools Workshop
Kevin Kumashiro, University of Illinois at Chicago
Gloria Ladson-Billings, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Carol Lee, Northwestern University
Sally Lee, Teachers Unite
Linda Levine, Bank Street Graduate School of Education
Tara Mack, Education for Liberation Network
Edwin Mayorga, New York Collective of Radical Educators
Deborah W. Meier, Steinhardt School of Education, N.Y.U.
Jon Moscow, The Brotherhood/Sister Sol
Arwa Nasser, United Nations International School
Donna Nevel, Center for Immigrant Families
Pedro A. Noguera, Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, N.Y.U.
Gary Orfield, Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, UCLA
Granville Leo Stevens, Independent Parents Organizations
*affiliations listed for identification purposes

KGIA: NY PUBLIC SCHOOL Madrassah is Moved for 3RD Time

Reprinted from Atlasshrugs- 
Like pitbulls seized on an unwitting victim the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), New York’s Public Arabic school, is refusing to release an innocent parent student body from its chokehold. The currently failing school is moving to a top performing school in the Fort Green section. And the parents are not happy about it.
Mark Steyn understands the implications. Mark Steyn said this  of the Arabic public school opening in NY on my show a few months back;
” it shows how we mischaracterized, we willfully misunderstand Islam. Yes, on the face of it yes Arabic is a language in a sense there is would be no difference between opening a foreign language school – a Spanish language school or a french language school – but in fact Arabic is more than a language. It is explicated the language of Islam so in that sense it is part of the Islamic religious imperial project. Radical Islam advances through the Arabic language. And you go all kinds of places that aren’t in the Arab world now like Pakistan, Indonesia, Central Asia, the Balk ins, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Canada and the United States and you will here those Imams preaching in Arabic. Arabic is not just another language like French or Italian, it is the spearhead of an idea logical project that is deeply opposed to the United States
We need a specific amendment declaring seperation of Mosque and state becuase whatever we got now ain’t working.
But Some Parents at P.S. 287 Object To Sharing Space
by Mary Frost
FORT GREENE — The Department of Education has confirmed that the Arabic-themed Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA) will be moving from Boerum Hill to a building occupied by P.S. 287, at 50 Navy St., near the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.

Parents also say that there are space issues at the school.

But parents at P.S. 287, who were told about the move at an “emergency” meeting Wednesday evening, say they are outraged.
“They ambushed us,” said Matrice Sherman, mother of two students at P.S. 287. “Garth Harries [DOE’s Chief Portfolio Officer], when he met with us last time, said there would be a dialog, and that they would hear our concerns.
“Who did he speak to? Not to the people at this school.”  Read more…

Almontaser Will Never be KGIA’s Principal But Who is Teaching These Children?

Today the  federal appeals court stated Dhabah “Debby” Almontaser cannot force New York City to give her another opportunity  to reapply as Principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy.  The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed  that Almontaser was acting in her official capacity as interim principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy when she defined “Intifada” as a “shaking off” to the NY Post.  The NYC Intifada T-shirt was produced and distributed by AWAAM, a group closely affiliated with Almontaser.  They are the lead organization supporting her reinstatement.

 Almontaser’s connection to the AWAAM group is not tenuous; she is both a founder and board member of the Yemeni American Association (SABA – YAA), and the AWAAM website (before it was quickly revised after the t-shirt exposé) directed “Contact Us” information to the YAA. The AAFSC, primary sponsors of KGIA, also sponsored the event where the t-shirts were sold. Her own words defending the “Intifada NYC” slogan were the greatest evidence against her being in charge of any institution, as quoted in the New York Post :

“The word [intifada] basically means ’shaking off.’ That is the root word if you look it up in Arabic,” she said.

“I understand it is developing a negative connotation due to the uprising in the Palestinian-Israeli areas. I don’t believe the intention is to have any of that kind of [violence] in New York City.

“I think it’s pretty much an opportunity for girls to express that they are part of New York City society . . . and shaking off oppression.”

Almontaser’s inability to define the Intifada for what it is- a murderous campaign to kill and maim  Israeli citizens – is understandable in light of her political viewpoints.  She opposes the War on Terror and she blames the US for the 9-11 attacks as described in her interview in 2002 to Amnesty International’s Norwegian office  shortly after 9-11.  She supports numerous radical organizations, including the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Public Schools are not the venue for the furthering of Islamic ideology.  Youssef M. Ibrahim’s article, “The Islamist Trojan Horse is Already in Place” explains,  “Seemingly separate but unquestionably part of the same process of spreading militancy among immigrant Arab communities was the Debbie Almontaser episode of the Khalil Gibran School saga, in which what she saw as a benign use of the word “intifada” led to her being forced to quit as the school’s principal. Neither Ms. Almontaser’s project nor her unstated intention to create a Muslim school in Brooklyn under the guise of multiculturalism took place in a void. The common task among all these organizations and individuals is to instill the notion there are no Arab-Americans, only Muslim Americans.

What follows next, of course, is the “community’s” eventual embrace of jihad against the values and policies of the majority infidel. This is what has taken place in Britain among native British subjects of Muslim origin.” [http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0907/ibrahim092507.php3 ]  

It is unfortunate that the NYC Department of Education did not investigate Almontaser and the Islamic partnering organizations she brought into the school before announcing its opening.  Stop the Madrassa understood the agenda and was forced to do what the DOE would not;  investigate, educate, and attempt to protect NYC school children from an Islamic political agenda.  Almontaser is gone but the infrastructure she built is still in place.  What exactly are these children exposed to, and given the individuals and partnering organizations involved, what perspective on the Middle East and America is being taught?  We will continue to keep the public informed.  Hopefully the NYCDOE will begin to do their part.

Eurabia and Amerabia Equals Islamic Caliphate

Germany is planning to teach Islamic religious classes in their public schools. The purpose is to protect children from informal religious classes run by “hate preachers”. The real question is, “Why do Western countries allow “hate preachers” to teach in any school, public or private, in the first place?”. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to do and say whatever one feels. Freedom without responsibility and accountability is chaos. The West’s desire for inclusiveness and equality has enabled Islamists to make inroads into a society whose values are diametrically opposed to Islam. Islamic extremists have been clear in their intentions to impose Shar’ia law in their host countries. How will they do this?

“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 am going to do that through education.”

Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) spokesperson Ibrahim Hooper, in a 1993 statement regarding the use of the American educational system as a means to preference and impose Shari’a law in the U.S., highlights the efforts of Islamic radicals to win the hearts and minds of Americans.

EuroNews 15 March 2008

German state schools to teach Islam

Germany’s official Islam Conference, meeting for the third time, has agreed to allow state schools to introduce Islamic religious classes in German. The government-sponsored conference aims to promote better integration for the 3.4 million Muslims living in Germany.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble says the idea is to deter parents from sending children to informal religious lessons run by teachers who have not been vetted by the state and end the influence of what he called “hate preachers”.

Muslim spokesperson Bekir Alboga said it is the realisation of something parents have long wished-for: “We are very happy. Since 1980 Germany’s Muslims have been demanding Islamic religious classes. Now we are delighted that the Interior Minister has ruled in favour of them”.

The problem of an acute lack of teachers means it will take many years for full implementation, but the result should eventually be Islam on the curriculum, taught in German, by teachers trained in Germany.
[http://www.euronews.net/index.php?page=info&article=475096&lng=1]

 

Islamic Public Charter School In Minnesota Supported by the Muslim American Society

Islam is thriving in a Minnesota public school.  Islamic Relief sponsors a public charter school, that is in reality a madrassa, paid for by taxpayers in Minnesota.   The parent organization Islamic Relief Worldwide is  known to “provide support and assistance” to the murderous Hamas terrorist organization. The  U.S. government designates Hamas as a terrorist group. The Muslim American Society of Minnesota openly admits it’s running a public charter school.  As you read the article below, published in the Minnesota Star Tribune, “MAS-MN offers on its web site “beneficial and enlightening information” about Islam, which includes statements like “Regularly make the intention to go on jihad with the ambition to die as a martyr.”

It is outrageous that we allow any school to establish Islam in an American public school.   Minnesotans contact Stop the Madrassa.  We can help you. 

Are taxpayers footing bill for Islamic school in Minnesota?

Last update: March 9, 2008 – 8:03 AM

Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA) — named for the Muslim general who conquered medieval Spain — is a K-8 charter school in Inver Grove Heights. Its approximately 300 students are mostly the children of low-income Muslim immigrant families, many of them Somalis.

The school is in huge demand, with a waiting list of 1,500. Last fall, it opened a second campus in Blaine.

TIZA uses the language of culture rather than religion to describe its program in public documents. According to its mission statement, the school “recognizes and appreciates the traditions, histories, civilizations and accomplishments of the eastern world (Africa, Asia and Middle East).”

But the line between religion and culture is often blurry. There are strong indications that religion plays a central role at TIZA, which is a public school financed by Minnesota taxpayers. Under the U.S. and state constitutions, a public school can accommodate students’ religious beliefs but cannot encourage or endorse religion.

TIZA raises troubling issues about taxpayer funding of schools that cross that line.

Asad Zaman, TIZA’s principal, declined to allow me to visit the school or grant me an interview. He did not respond to e-mails seeking written replies.

TIZA’s strong religious connections date from its founding in 2003. Its co-founders, Zaman and Hesham Hussein, were both imams, or Muslim religious leaders, as well as leaders of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota (MAS-MN).

Since then, they have played dual roles: Zaman as TIZA’s principal and the current vice-president of MAS-MN, and Hussein as TIZA’s school board chair and president of MAS-MN until his death in a car accident in Saudi Arabia in January.

TIZA shares MAS-MN’s headquarters building, along with a mosque.

MAS-MN came to Minnesotans’ attention in 2006, when it issued a “fatwa,” warning Muslim taxi drivers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport that transporting passengers with alcohol in their baggage is a violation of Islamic law.

Journalists whom Zaman has permitted to visit TIZA have described the school’s Islamic atmosphere and practices.

“A visitor might well mistake Tarek ibn Ziyad for an Islamic school,” reported Minnesota Monthly in 2007. “Head scarves are voluntary, but virtually all the girls wear them.” The school has a central carpeted prayer space, and “vaguely religious-sounding language” is used.

According to the Pioneer Press, TIZA’s student body prays daily and the school’s cafeteria serves halal food (permissible under Islamic law). During Ramadan, all students fast from dawn to dusk, according to a parent quoted in the article.

In fact, TIZA was originally envisioned as a private Islamic school. In 2001, MAS-MN negotiated to buy the current TIZA/MAS-MN building for Al-Amal School, a private religious institution in Fridley, according to Bruce Rimstad of the Inver Grove Heights School District. But many immigrant families can’t afford Al-Amal. In 2002, Islamic Relief — headquartered in California — agreed to sponsor a publicly funded charter school, TIZA, at the same location.

TIZA claims to be non-sectarian, as Minnesota law requires charters to be. But “after-school Islamic learning” takes place on weekdays in the same building under MAS-MN’s auspices, according to the program for MAS-MN’s 2007 convention. At that convention, a TIZA representative at the school’s booth told me that students go directly to “Islamic studies” classes at 3:30, when TIZA’s day ends. There, they learn “Qur’anic recitation, the Sunnah of the Prophet” and other religious subjects, he said.

TIZA’s 2006 Contract Performance Review Report states that students engage in unspecified “electives” after school or do homework.

Publicly, TIZA emphasizes that it uses standard curricular materials like those found in other public schools. But when addressing Muslim audiences, school officials make the link to Islam clear. At MAS-MN’s 2007 convention, for example, the program featured an advertisement for the “Muslim American Society of Minnesota,” superimposed on a picture of a mosque. Under the motto “Establishing Islam in Minnesota,” it asked: “Did you know that MAS-MN … houses a full-time elementary school”? On the adjacent page was an application for TIZA.In addition to the issues raised by TIZA’s religious elements, there are reasons to be concerned about the organizations with which it is connected.

Group linked to Hamas

Islamic Relief-USA, the school’s sponsor, is compared to the Red Cross in several TIZA documents. In 2006, however, the Israeli government announced that Islamic Relief Worldwide, the organization’s parent group, “provides support and assistance” to Hamas, designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist group.

Meanwhile, MAS-MN offers on its web site “beneficial and enlightening information” about Islam, which includes statements like “Regularly make the intention to go on jihad with the ambition to die as a martyr.”

At its 2007 convention, MAS-MN featured the notorious Shayk Khalid Yasin, who is well-known in Britain and Australia for teaching that husbands can beat disobedient wives, that gays should be executed and that the United States spreads the AIDS virus in Africa through vaccines for tropical diseases.

Yasin’s topic? “Building a Successful Muslim Community in Minnesota.”

TIZA has improved the reading and math performance of its mostly low-income students. That’s commendable, but should Minnesota taxpayers be funding an Islamic public school? [http://www.startribune.com/16404541.html?location_refer=Bios]

Katherine Kersten • kkersten@startribune.com Join the conversation at my blog, Think Again, which can be found at www.startribune.com/thinkagain.

     

New York City Parents On Collision Course Again With Dept. Of Education Over Khalil Gibran International Academy Move

New York City Parents On Collision Course Again With Dept. Of Education Over Khalil Gibran International Academy Move

By Sara Springer, special to PipeLineNews.org

February 29, 2008 – Brooklyn, NY – PipeLineNews.org – This week the NYC Department of Education informed the Khalil Gibran International Academy’s PTA that the school would be relocated for the September 2008 school year. Yet with all the planning, the intended target for KGIA, PS 287 in Fort Green, doesn’t have the required space and the proposed move is running into a firestorm of resistance from parents who feel their school is an inappropriate choice for the controversial Arabic school which has been called a madrassah.

In an effort to quell the growing dissent, on the evening of February 27, Garth Harries, DOE Officer of Portfolio Development, came to PS 287 where he faced an angry gathering of parents, outraged that their school had been chosen with little consultation.

As has been the case since the inception of KGIA, the DOE has been a model of non-transparency. That stonewalling continues, for example on February 4, the PTA requested a copy of KGIA’s curriculum, yet nearly a month later nothing has been forwarded.

A parent from the school told this reporter that she attempted to visit KGIA today, stating she “was poorly received,” and had not been allowed to enter. At the meeting she rose, chiding 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?”

Indicative of the bad blood between parents and the DOE, another demanded, “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?” This in reference to a promise by DOE that the high school [now in its fourth year] was to be moved after the first school year.

With the prospect of normalcy returning to PS 287 now dashed by the announcement of the KGIA move, parents and school officials fear that enrollment will decrease further because of the negative publicity surrounding KGIA. If the move goes forward, once again pre-k, kindergarten, and elementary age children will be forced to mix with high school students. This is a potentially unhealthy situation which caused one parent to state, “It’s not safe to be with high school kids. They’re out of control. We can’t bring kids into the playground.”

The President of another school’s PTA acknowledged the problem, of co-mingling children of such diverse ages, observing, “Older kids beat up younger kids.” Harries shrugged the objection off, noting that that this is happening all around the city.

Despite statements to the contrary made by his aides, Harries told the gathering that the decision to move wasn’t final, thus contradicting a statement by DOE representative, Gabrielle Ferghetti, who earlier had stated that the move is a “done deal.” As 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 of veracity always looms when dealing with the DOE and KGIA; are they capable of telling the truth?

Another perspective was expressed by a parent who noted the frustration of many as she accused Haries and the DOE of favoritism, “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.”

One got the impression that the opposition within PS 287 against KGIA’s intrusion is rising, led by a savvy and knowledgeable group of parents who let the DOE know that their community school and children would no longer be made a pawn in Chancellor Klein’s divisive policy of forced multiculturalism.

As the evening concluded a defiant spirit was in the air, with one parent challenging Harries, “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.”

©1999-2008 Sara Springer, PipeLineNews.org LLC, all rights reserved. 

[http://www.pipelinenews.org/index.cfm?page=kgia2.29.08%2Ehtm]