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  1. #1

    Children Waitlisted at TriBeCa's PS 234 Sent to PS 130 in Chinatown

    From DNAinfo.com by Julie Shapiro:
    TriBeCa parents are upset about the city's plan to ship their children to a Chinatown school where the students wear uniforms and have only a few minutes for recess.

    The parents expected to send their children to TriBeCa's coveted P.S. 234, where students call teachers by their first name and learn through hands-on exploration.

    But at least 25 families who did not win a spot in the overcrowded P.S. 234 received letters this week saying their children would go to kindergarten at P.S. 130 on Baxter Street instead.

    "We were really surprised and really disappointed," said Christine Brogan, 38, who has lived in TriBeCa for nine years and expected her son to attend P.S. 234.

    Brogan said she and other parents are worried about P.S. 130's stricter environment, which has a more traditional teaching style than the progressive P.S. 234.

    Another major difference between the schools is that 70 percent of P.S. 130's incoming kindergarteners do not speak English fluently, Principal Lily Woo has told DNAinfo.

    Most of the children speak only Chinese at home, so all kindergarten teachers are also certified as English as a Second Language specialists, according to InsideSchools.org.

    "I'm wondering what [my son] will be doing while the other kids learn to speak English," Brogan said. "It also might be hard for him to make friends."

    P.S. 234 held a lottery for its 125 kindergarten seats this year after receiving dozens more applications than the school could accommodate.

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  2. #2

    P.S. 130 Parents Respond to Story on Tribeca's Waitlisted Parents

    From Tribeca Tribune:
    To the Editor:
    So the parents of Tribeca four year olds are being denied entry to PS 234's Kindergarten classes, because PS 234 is prioritizing siblings of PS 234 students. Instead the angry white Tribeca parents are being sent to PS 130, where space is only available because siblings of PS 130 students are being denied access to this wonderful school that their sisters and brothers are already attending. Perhaps a solution might be for the Tribeca parents to return to the suburbs where they will be less likely to encounter the diversity they so plainly fear.

    As a parent of two graduates of PS 130, I hope there will be a solution that will not mean that Principal Lily Woo is forced to deny access to her own community and have to suffer instead the ill-informed and ill-mannered caviling of this group of parents. My children were very happy at PS 130 and received an excellent and enriching education there. My only complaint about PS 130 is that it is not a K-12 school.

    Jane Barrer

    To the Editor:
    I am writing this in response to your front page story about the crowding in downtown kindergarten classes. As the parent of a student who attended P.S. 130 for her entire elementary school experience here in the city, I must say I was disappointed by the negative response of Tribeca parents whose children have been assigned there. I believe that if they go to look at the school with open minds, they will see what a wonderful school it is.

    P.S. 130 is really an amazing school. After graduating two years ago, my daughter still goes back to visit her old teachers there (she is currently going to Hunter-and I believe the great education she received at P.S. 130 is greatly responsible for her scoring well enough on the Hunter admissions test to get into such a competitive school).

    It isn't only the superior teaching at the school that deserves kudos but also the warmth and involvement of the Parent-Teacher association there. They have a great after-school program and many arts opportunities In third-grade, every student learns to play violin, in fourth-grade there is a great program with the National Dance Institute teaching all the students, there is ballroom dancing in fifth grade. In second grade, my daughter's class collaborated in a group multi-media project that was shown at the Drawing Center in Soho. My daughter also sang in the satellite division of Young People's Chorus at the school. She has continued her singing in YPC and next year, she and her chorus will be traveling to Stockholm to sing there. As you can see from this partial listing of some of the opportunities there, there are marvelous possibilities for students to take advantage of at the school.

    To Tribeca parents: I hope your short-sightedness will not deprive your children of a truly diverse and special education.

    Ann Chantal Altman
    (mother of a P.S. 130 alumnus)

    To the Editor:
    As a long time community organizer, I understand and support the common sense need for children to go to school in their neighborhood. I began this article with great sympathy until I read some of the parent’s comments pertaining to PS 130 which were obviously ill-informed- when not downright offensive.

    Ironically, I heard of the article last night during a joyful evening in the midst of the Chinatown banquet fundraiser for PS 130. The lion dances, singing, dancing, and performance by elders from the nearby senior center were each uniquely exciting. It was moving to hear a Chinese language duet sung with the rich voice of the African Heritage singing teacher and the sweet voice of the Latino music teacher. The audience went wild – it was a privilege to be with such generosity of spirit. All cultures there were wonderfully confident enough in themselves to join fully with others. It is hard to quantify this experience to anyone who hasn’t been here. And impossible to understand why anyone would not choose this - in the midst of one of the most diverse cities in the world.

    Those of us white parents who were lucky enough to have children in PS 130 are and always will be grateful. Our children were treated to the wealth of knowledge and expertise of Principal Lily Din Woo -an outstanding educator (who, by the way, teaches at that paragon of progressive enclaves -Bank Street's Principals Institute). Beyond that, her caring, kindness and generosity gave our children a school that was like a home. Our children (and parents) return year after year to visit and spend time with teachers who know them by name. It’s hard to describe the welcome you receive here and the depth of the friendships made.

    So, in answer to the question, “what will [my child] be learning…?”: Your child will be learning about an important culture, experiencing immigrant and US born (read: English speaking) Chinese families (as well as European, Latina/o and African Heritage families), making friends across class and race, acquiring a perspective outside of white minority culture (in terms of the real world), standing against racism and class oppression, enjoying the in-depth arts programming, oh, and getting a pretty damn good education - by any standard.

    Indeed, I would question the narrowness of the education received by some that would allow them to maintain such ignorance of an entire community so nearby their own.

    And by all means, find a private school, you don’t deserve this one.

    K Webster
    (Former) Parent Association Co-President PS 130

  3. #3

    City Defends Sending TriBeCa Kindergartners to Chinatown

    Latest on the story from DNAinfo.com by Julie Shapiro:
    The city is sticking with its plan to send TriBeCa kids to kindergarten in Chinatown, despite an outcry from elected officials and hundreds of parents.

    The city sent a letter this week to many of the 22 families that are waitlisted at TriBeCa's popular P.S. 234, saying the city still plans to put the extra children at P.S. 130 in Chinatown.

    "P.S. 130 is among the top 10 percent of elementary schools citywide, and we are confident P.S. 234 students would receive an excellent education at this school," wrote Elizabeth Rose, a director of portfolio planning at the Department of Education.

    The waitlisted families say they have nothing against P.S. 130 — which is a more strict school than P.S. 234 and requires students to wear uniforms — but they object to their children being sent out of their immediate community.

    The parents also said they were worried about the precedent the Department of Education set by putting the TriBeCa families ahead of some families that were already on P.S. 130's waitlist.

    "[The DOE's letter] doesn't address any of these issues or bring up any viable solutions," said Marc Siden, a TriBeCa resident whose daughter is on the P.S. 234 waitlist.

    The solution Siden and other parents are proposing is to temporarily put the TriBeCa children either in the Spruce Street School in the Financial District or in P.S. 276 in Battery Park City. The children would then move to the new Peck Slip school once it opens in 2012 in temporary space in Tweed Courthouse.

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