A successful program located in Bedford Stuyvesant is in danger of losing classroom and administrative space to a charter school. Pathways to Graduation (P2G), which has serviced community members ages 17-21 for more than 20 years, would see four of its classrooms, an office and a storage room, reallocated to Uncommon Collegiate Charter High School. The charter school is also currently located at Old Boys High building on Marcy Avenue.
Five programs in all are housed in the historic building, including the Brooklyn Academy High School, Bed-Stuy Prep High School and the LYFE Center, which is a daycare program for the children of students taking classes in the alternative schools located there. Department of Education and the PEP (Panel for Educational Policy) are proposing to take space away from P2G and would consolidate Brooklyn Academy and Bed-Stuy Prep – each of which had a floor of space – into one school with one principal, on one floor. All this so that Uncommon Collegiate can relocate its middle school from P.S. 9, which has wanted them gone for some time.
P2G has been a lifeline for young adults in need of an assist and is particularly successful at servicing young adults facing a number of challenges. It prepares students for the GED exam, which, though still widely known as such, was renamed TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion) by the Department of Education.
“Our students essentially fall into two categories.” said P2G teacher Nicole Greaves, “Either they didn’t finish high school for whatever reason – whether it’s incarceration, dysfunction at home, homelessness, (living in shelters) or foster care, The other category is our very large immigrant population. These are students who are new to the country and they are either too old to enter a regular high school or they do not speak the language. We have an amazing ESL teacher at our program, Dr. Bradley Jordan, who speaks seven languages.”
P2G has been celebrated for its Bike Repair Program and Citibike just hired seven students from the program. So skill-attainment and job placement are success stories at the school. It also has an internship program preceded by a boot camp for readiness. Many students have been asked to stay on with the employers.
Greaves predicts that these programs will be disrupted or eliminated if space is not available. She also believes it not wise to expose middle-school children to an environment both high-school and adult prep students.
“There will be fifth-graders and 21-olds in the same building,” says Greaves. “It leaves it open for a child to be exposed to something that could potentially be dangerous. And fifth-graders do not pass through metal detectors. So if the youngest population in the building does not have to go through metal detectors, that leaves them open to possibly being forced to bring a weapon into the building by an older child.”
Those seeking fair play for P2G and the other schools at Old Boys High are not anti-charter. P2G once had two floors in the school, but it was reduced to one floor of space four years ago. Now the proposed cut would remove half of that one floor, including the room where students learn the bike-repair skills. Its long history in the building makes P2G a fixture in a neighborhood where it’s still needed, despite gentrification. And parents of the Uncommon Charter middle-school students would likely be open to other options – particularly those that don’t involve a wide age-gap among students in the building.
This is not a done deal, but could be if the public does not raise its voice. A discussion of the issue is scheduled for Thursday, March 22nd at 5:30 at P.S. 9, 80 Underhill Avenue. (*To be certain that the meeting is not postponed due to weather, call Ms. Greaves at (718) 6736-5770 ext. 2202. The final vote on the reallocation is on Wednesday, April 25th at 5:30 Murry Bergtraum H.S. There may also be information shared at the upcoming Community Board 3 meeting on Thursday, April 12th at 7pm at Restoration Plaza, 1360 Fulotn St., 2nd floor.