In April 2010, the “47” Alumni Association of the Deaf board and members received very disturbing news about the changes that may take place at “47” The American Sign Language and English Lower School (PS 347) and “47” The American Sign Language and English Secondary School (M047) affectionately known as “47” this fall. The NYC Department of Education plans to integrate 270-plus students from Clinton School for Artists and Writers into our beloved “47” school. This will cause severe overcrowding at our school. We cannot allow the Department of Education to trample on the school we love, cherish and need.
Our school is unique – and one of a kind in the entire country – in that the program employs a dual¬ language approach in American Sign Language (ASL) and English for all students, whether they are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, CODA, or hearing. This ensures direct, and clear communication between teachers, administrators and staff and students.
With an additional 270-plus students coming into the school, overcrowding will become a severe problem. This will lead to chaos, confusion, and most of all danger. The school has already suffered enough in the past few years, with the forced loss of space on the third floor that housed our science and graphic labs, art and music rooms, and classrooms. To add insult to injury, this loss deprived our high school students of hands-on experienced needed to pass their regents, and seriously compromised many of their grades and learning processes.
One of our school’s flagship programs is the Balanced Literacy program. This program requires a reading area surrounded by bookshelves, library storytelling area, writing area, and other designated areas. This has helped students thrive in education, especially given their language needs. With the loss of space, this program will be seriously compromised and further bar these students from the opportunities they cannot get anywhere else.
We already have four schools in our building, which has created obstacles for the gym, which is already smaller than average. Our students do not receive the minimum required time for physical education. Additionally, the gym is already divided into two sections and is used all day, then for after-school activities. On top of this, there are no lockers available. To further sacrifice space would be an injustice.
There are also many, many other consequences to bringing in the additional 270 students, such as:
- Losing extracurricular resources and support services, which include counseling, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and essential classroom space.
- Pushing the cafeteria to beyond capacity. The cafeteria is used in three shifts, and can only hold up to 150 people. If incorporates crucial aspects for accessibility, such as round tables for better visibility and ASL communication.
- Creating dangerous escape routes. The building has rather narrow hallways and stairways. With overcrowding and so many different schools, emergencies such as fire drills or evacuations would create danger and chaos.
- Reducing or eliminating ongoing activities so crucial to our school as a result of the lack of space, such as assemblies, storytelling, guest speakers, community ASL classes, weekly family workshops and classes.
- Dropping plans to expand the ASL and Deaf culture studio and community ASL programs.
Furthermore, we had planned, prior to the announcement, to recruit and review applications received by students. However, this has been blocked by the Department of Education. There are countless other setbacks and obstacles that have been thrown at us, unfairly and unnecessarily, and we cannot allow any more incidents or decisions that are intended to squash our program’s long history of success and optimal results.
An alumni member recently approached our board saying, “Our school has history. My school! No way! We’ll fight back.” And let us tell you: we will fight back.
Dates of Public Hearings
April 8 at P.S. 11 @ 320 West 21st St.
April 14 at “47″ @ 225 East 23rd St.
April 29 at P.S. 11 @ 320 West 21st St.
May 10 at “47″ @ 225 East 23rd St.
NYC DOE Public Hearing at “‘47” – April 14, 2010
On April 14, 500 alumni members, parents, teachers, friends, and students attended a public hearing at “47″ regarding the Department of Education’s proposal to integrate 270-plus students into “47” from another school. There were about 70 presenters including students, parents, alumni members and teachers, and some from PS 138 as well as Clinton School for Artists and Writers. All made comments in opposition of the proposal.
Rally at “47” – May 10, 2010
On May 10, 2010, many protesters including alumni, teachers, students and friends stood outside of the school to protest the Department of Education’s plan to integrate 270-plus students from Clinton School for Artists and Writers into “47”. We had newspaper reporters looking into this situation. After the rally, about 500 alumni members, parents, teachers, friends, and students attended a public hearing in the auditorium at “47″ to oppose the Department of Education’s proposal. There were about 70 presenters including students, parents, alumni members and teachers, and PS 138 as well as Clinton School for Artists and Writers. All made comments in opposition of the proposal.
We Won! Our “Wait and See” is Over! – June 22, 2010
We won! Our “wait and see” is over. On June 22, 2010, the New York City Panel of Education Policy voted unanimously to approve the proposal to move Clinton School for Artists and Writers from PS 11 on 320 W. 21 Street to the vacant of St. Michael Academy facility at 425 W. 33rd Street in this fall.
Clinton School for the Artists and Writers is a middle school that shared space for 30 years with P.S. 11. This caused overcrowding at P.S. 11, the New York City Department of Education’s original plan was to relocate 270 students from Clinton to “47”. However, “47” Alumni, parents, teachers, staff, along with PS 138 and Clinton communities, ferociously rallied against the plan. Had the plan been enforced, “47” would be overcrowded and lose valuable space, among other circumstances.
Clinton will be the sole occupant at St. Michael’s Academy location for a few years until its new school is built at 10 E. 15 Street, with an anticipated completion date of 2015. At the St. Michael’s location, Clinton will have its own gym/auditorium, cafeteria, library room, science lab, and classrooms, and much more. We wish Clinton all the best at its new location.
We wish to express our sincere appreciation and thanks to the “47” community, PS 138, and most of all to the Clinton community for their advice, support, hard work, and enthusiasm in working with us in this fight. We never gave up hope that the best resolution for all involved would be achieved.
What a team we were and what a team we will be!
Page last updated: March 30, 2016