Arabic School "Celebration" Turns Into Resentment Filled Wake
By Sara Springer
January 29, 2008 - Brooklyn, NY - PipeLineNews.org - "Speaking Justice, Speaking Truth," an event held tonight at the Park Slope Methodist Church which was billed as a "Performance in Support of The Khalil Gibran International Academy," seemed more like a wake than a celebration to many observers present.
That feeling was underlined by the evening's speakers, those most intimately involved with the controversial Arab language school, its instructors, some of whom choked back tears while they addressed a crowd of approximately 200.
Instead of touting the school's success, nearly everyone who addressed the assembly talked about the institution's abandonment and loss of support by the DOE, New Visions, and Brooklyn's Arab American Family Support Center [AAFSC].
To those who spoke tonight, the school is a hollow shell of what New York DOE Chancellor Joel Klein had promised, and what Department spokesmen continue to portray in public.
Security problems abound, with one teacher confiding to a member of the KGIA design team that he had been assaulted today but was forced to take the matter to the police because school security did not respond. He further stated that for his efforts he had been reprimanded by school leadership.
Tonight's speakers appeared to be united in their belief that so little in the way of Arabic language instruction materials are being supplied that KGIA staff are being forced to download such basic items as Arabic characters from the internet, in order to present to their language classes which have been drastically cut in number and duration.
Those comments seem to be in accord with a January 17 statement posted by KGIA Science instructor Sean R. Grogan on the KGIA support website noting, "the school has been abandoned by all those who claim to support it. We have not received the instruments and items we were told to expect. Our space is inappropriate; we have been forced to teach in a reading room and a hallway Our social worker is being let go, against the wishes of many of the students, parents, and staff due to a personal bias on the part of the former principal" [source, http://kgia.wordpress.com/2008/01/17/press-release-january-17/]
From its outset, critics of the school have pointed out the numerous difficulties with the concept of a publicly funded Arab-centric school, called into question this particular program's organizing principles and challenged the leadership of the school's designated first principal, Dhabah Almontaser, who was forced to resign because of poor judgment and questionable associations.
With no real curriculum, not much in the way of books pertinent to the schools stated focus and a management team apparently in disarray, KGIA looms as a failed experiment. It is a disaster imposed upon Brooklyn by an arrogant DOE which now maintains the effort out of sheer spite, defiant to the last that the program's critics, which now have been proven right, will not be allowed to triumph.
We once again demand that DOE Chancellor Joel Klein end the ill-conceived KGIA experiment, stop wasting much needed district funds and start serving Brooklyn's school children as the DOE's charter demands.
©1999-2008 Sara Springer, PipeLineNews.org LLC, all rights reserved.