By WILLIAM MAYER and BEILA RABINOWITZ
June 23, 2008 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - Judged by any objective standard, after only a year in operation, Brooklyn's Khalil Gibran International Academy [KGIA] has been a disaster. The presence of this institution, designed by its now departed founder Dhabah Almontaser to be a madrassah - an Islamist indoctrination center - has served only to create further division in a community already fractured along religious and ethnic lines.
KGIA is at its base a quota school, a political toy conjured up - underwritten by liberal outside funding sources - to serve a noisy minority demographic, to fill a nonexistent need.
It should not be shocking then, that this type of school would be encumbered by controversy from day one, public recriminations, charges and counter charges, lawsuits, threats and retaliation against critics of the school, have all served to render it a hollow shell of what NY school chief Joel Klein had originally promised.
KGIA operates in a lockdown atmosphere; access is tightly controlled so that the public really has no idea of what goes on throughout the school day.
What little is known, is unsettling.
The school has been unable to provide for the reasonable safety of its students, to the extent that many teachers feel that their only recourse is to rely upon the local police department to deal with recurrent incidents of assault and other serious behavior problems because school's security measures and personnel are entirely ineffective.
As we mentioned in a previous piece.
"...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..." [see, Khalil Gibran International Academy Revealed As A Sham]
The reality of KGIA's failure permeates staff and support groups, which are uniformly dispirited.
Reflecting that perspective, on the eve of what was supposed to be a year-end bash and celebration of KGIA's anniversary, Lena Alhusseini, Director of the school's flagship supporter, the Arab American Family Support Center [AAFSC], abruptly cancelled the event saying cryptically, "unfortunately, due to a variety of reasons, we have reviewed the situation with several of our partners, our Board and staff, and we have decided that now is not the appropriate time to proceed with the party."
The feeling that KGIA is on the ropes permeates the institution with possibly over 50% of parents already having taken steps to opt out of KGIA's pan-Arabic experimentalism and switch to a more traditional educational format next fall.
Indicative of a growing sense of hopelessness among the school's staff, KGIA Science instructor Sean R. Grogan noted, "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/]
Mr. Grogan was recently terminated.
From its outset we 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.
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