In a letter to the editor, Jersey City Board of Education candidate Natalia Ioffe, a former P.S. 16 Parent Council member, explains why she feels parents have been getting the short end of the stick at Paulus Hook Park.
As a former parent council member at the Cornelia Bradford school, I would like to offer some context and history to the debate around a corner of Paulus Hook Park adjacent to our long-suffering school.
It seems that a propaganda machine led by political committee members has been deployed in order to vilify the PS16 community.
PS16 families are being slandered as “selfish” and “entitled” for simply wanting to secure a few hours in a school adjacent playground, that is specified for school-aged children, for their school-aged children, in the time designated for school hours.
This slander is insulting to every parent whose children ever attended PS16 and who had to constantly fight for our school.
I would like to remind the community at large that PS16 is the ONLY school in the JCPS district that receives zero Title 1 funding, nothing but the bare minimum prescribed per student by the state.
As a result, over the past decade, the parents of PS16 had to subsidize the majority of school infrastructural, extracurricular and other supplemental needs of the school.
PS16 had to manage having 43 kids per kindergarten classroom with limited staff, and constant threats to lose best teachers to funding cuts.
Our parents and children stood till morning hours in council and school board meetings over the years, fighting to retain their staff. The Cornelia Bradford school celebrated its Centennial in 2016, which can give you an idea of the general state of its building.
The community of PS16 has always functioned as a family unit, meaning that children, parents, and staff, face challenges together. Past and present generations of families share the love for the school and its culture.
When the Cornelia Bradford school community gets shamelessly slandered it is felt throughout our city.
Each generation of PS16 students has had its share of hot classrooms, leaky pipes, water lapses, lack of funding, staff cuts and more. As parents we helped them through it as best as we could.
At a time when health and safety are on the forefront of every parent’s mind, is allowing PS16 children a secure safe space during a grueling school day really asking too much?
This is the time when politicians should be thinking how to help students to safely re-integrate into their school year, but instead they seem eager to put these kids “in their place” and remind them that their needs don’t matter in the context of people’s principles and politics.
What a shame.
Jersey City resident
Editor’s note: Ioffe of one of the three BOE candidates running on the “Education Matters” ticket.