Yasmeen Khan is an associate producer covering education. You can find her stories on the air and on SchoolBook.org, WNYC’s education website.
The school slid from an 'A' grade to an 'F' five years after the Department of Education made the decision to move the school into a building with another elementary school. The Pre-K to fifth grade school, which is on the Lower East Side, has 232 students.
Iris Minier, who has a son in the 4th grade, says the school's 'F' grade is misleading.
"He's learning how to read, he's learning how to write, he's learning how to make stories," said Ms. Minier. "Things he didn't know when he came to this school, he's learned in this school. And he's only been here for two years."
P.S. 137 John L. Bernstein now sits on a list of 20 low-performing schools identified by the Education Department, which some parents see as a signal that the school will be closed.
“It's a small school but the teachers are good and my son really likes it,” said Amanda Gonzalez, whose son, Asiah, is in the first grade. “He loves his teacher and his classmates, and they'll be very sad if they close it down.”
According to organizers of the rally, the school was deprived of promised resources after the city forced it to move in with P.S. 134 Henrietta Szold in 2006 so that the P.S. 184 Shuang Wen Academy (preK to 8th grades, 685 students) could have its space. City budget cuts then led to reduced staffing and the loss of extracurricular activities, they said.
The Department of Education says the school is on the low-performing list because of its poor performance, but the agency has not made any decisions yet about which schools would be phased out. Rather, education officials say they are in conversation with leaders from the 20 schools on the list to identify weaknesses in the schools’ educational strategies.
Natasja Sheriff contributed reporting.