One of Harlem-GEM’s members sent in this report on the hearing that took place two days ago at I.S. 195 over the addition of another KIPP charter in the building.
Hearings like this are rampant in New York City, and communities have to understand that watchdog involvement and activism is the only way to slow down this abuse of power.
A farcical forum on a new KIPP charter school slated to be place in IS 195 in Harlem took place on Thursday. A KIPP middle school has existed in the building for a number of years, slowly eating up space, forcing teachers to re-locate classrooms, even in the middle of the year. The proposal is for KIPP STAR to place a 9th grade, with 45 students from throughout the city, into the building, supposedly for only one year. Teachers at IS 195 literally found out about the new KIPP STAR High School last week! They discovered piles of school/teacher materials dumped into the boys and girls locker rooms. Unbelievably, KIPP generously offered to pay for the materials to be placed into a storage space. Presumably, teachers would be able to pick up these materials during their lunch breaks?
About 15-20 IS 195 teachers showed up to the hearing, in addition to someone whoa few ACORN people came, a DOE representative, a UFT representative, and 2 GEM’ers came. One woman from SUNY came, only to “listen” and report back to the SUNY board. Nobody from KIPP STAR charter school bothered to show up. Nobody argued in favor of the charter school being there. I know the 195 teachers saw Norm’s blog the night before and came because of that. Teachers from IS 195 made comments to the effect that they expect the DOE to eventually attempt to completely phase out IS 195. Teachers at 195 stated that they assumed the high school would be staying for more than one year, not a bad assumption given the track record of charters in other places. As with other schools, this is not a “failing” school, even by the D.O.E.’s skewed standards. Many teachers there had been in the building for 10, 15 or more years (in one case, 31 years!), and pointed to the improvements that they have seen in the school. Teachers also raised concerns that placing a high school within a middle school setting would not be good.
Finally, the hearing itself was decried as a farce by everyone there. As work had already begun on the KIPP STAR rooms and with only days left before the school year begins, how could they really be getting input from the community? Certainly, there was little effort put forward in advertising this hearing, as teachers at IS 195 only found out about it at 8 a.m. the morning before, and parents and community members were not made aware of the hearing.
GEM representatives announced the upcoming “Truth About Charter Schools Forum” this coming Wednesday and got contact info from a bunch of teachers.