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Dear Mayor Bloomberg

Reader comment on item: A Madrasa Grows in Brooklyn

Submitted by Irene Alter (United States), Apr 24, 2007 at 19:13

Dear Mayor Bloomberg,

It is with great concern that I am taking the time and making the effort to write this letter.

I am a retired teacher from the NYC school system and have taught in various NYC middle and high schools throughout my 30 year career. For the last 22 years of my career I was a Foreign Language teacher at Forest Hills High School. I am also the product of a NYC public school education and a graduate of City College and Queens College.

It is with this resume that I am writing this letter in order to address certain issues that I have been made aware of which are very troubling both to me and many of my colleagues. It has been brought to our attention that you have sanctioned a school that will be going forth next September whose aim is to focus on teaching half its courses in Arabic. The goal is to add on a grade each year and by the end have a school that will comprise grades six to twelve.

Although there are many issues that are quite disturbing concerning a school of this nature and would take up pages if I were to outline how wrong this type of segregation of a particular population would be, what I will address is something that is being overlooked and in essence naïve on the part of yourself and the chancellor.

In the climate of being politically correct, you have entered into an agreement where it seems to me that little thought has been given to the consequences of having this type of school.. Since the teachers will not be certified and taken from the Arab American Family Support Group, are we aware where this group gets its funding? Since it seems that all the teachers of Arabic will be of Christian or Muslim descent, how can we be sure what the students will be learning about Israel when it comes to their history or mid east studies courses? Where will the control be and who will be monitoring this especially when half the courses will be taught in Arabic. If no effort is made to address this very serious problem then how do we not know that more radical thought will not gain a foothold in a school of this nature?

Unless you can acquire teachers from the Iranian Jewish community who can teach Farsi or Arabic and also restructure the school so that it includes all of mid east thought and not just Arabic, I truly believe you will be creating an environment that will come back to bite the city in the end. In order to truly have a more well rounded view, the school would also have to offer Hebrew and Israeli culture so that the graduates will know both languages and not just one that would have an obvious bias against Israel. To accomplish this you would have to make an effort to hire more Jews who know both Hebrew and Arabic and those of Arabic descent who know both Hebrew and Arabic. As you can see this will become quite a cumbersome undertaking.

Allowing this school to proceed is a critical oversight on your part. When the rest of the Jewish community starts to understand this I am sure you will begin to hear from many other groups if that is not the case already. To overlook the reality of the political situation we are facing in this country just to appease a group at the expense of another is, in my opinion, not only foolhardy but also dangerous.


Irene Alter


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