Low Enrollment, Controversy Forces Changes At Brooklyn Arabic School

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP)Education officials said a controversial Arabic-themed middle school in New York City will close and re-open as a high school in 2012.

When it opened four years ago the Khalil Gibran School became a lightning rod for criticism. Opponents feared it would teach Islamic extremism. The founding principal sued the city after she said she was forced out.

The school’s biggest problem ended up being low enrollment. Arabic-speaking parents were turned off by the controversy and the school’s remote location, which was far from public transportation.

Educators hope the school will be more successful with older students in a new spot in downtown Brooklyn.

The Panel for Educational Policy is set to vote Monday night on the changes.

What do you think of the Gibran School? Sound off in our comments section below…

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  • Dave

    There are lots of Muslim Arabs in the Downtown Brooklyn area, too (there are several Mosques here!) and plenty of non-Maronite Christians. Also, there are many people from Arab countries (Jewish, Christian and Muslim) in Bay Ridge and other parts of the city who might want their children to attend the school and who will find this new location much more accessible. And, many non-Arab families might consider the new school based on the Arabic language instruction and more sensible location. Practically every subway line in the city comes to Downtown Brooklyn.

    We should remember that the school was not intended to be for Arab-American students only, but for all students with an interest in studying the Arabic language and Arab culture.

    As far as students learning to hate America: Please! Does one study French out of hatred for America?Arab-Americans are a highly patriotic group, serving in the military and government in great numbers. And as a public school, the school will not teach Islam or any religion. It’s named after an Arab-American poet and novelist (A Christian one, by the way) not a religious figure. Any concern about about an Arab-themed school is born out of a confusion about Arabs and Islam. Arab doesn’t automatically mean Muslim and many Muslims are not Arab at all. Most Arab-Americans are, like myself, Christian, so to automatically assume that an Arab culture-themed school will focused on Islam is incorrect.

  • International

    Principals are paid over $ 200,000 a year. The school opened with about 40 students in 2 or 3 grades. NOT a wise use of taxpayer dollars!

    The idea was good, but executed badly. Parents weren’t consulted – location was an issue for them, as no one wants long commutes for small children. No university School of Education was consulted on best teaching methods. No Arabic or other cultural institutions were brought in for assistance – for example, the Islamic art curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art are outstanding. The PR was terrible, and not due to anti-Muslim bias. The principal was just klutzy about everything – no sensitivity to others.

    A high school in accessible downtown Brooklyn is a good idea, if all the above are considered. There’s still a very large Arabic-speaking population there, though they’re mostly Maronite Rite Catholics, not Muslims. :-)

  • Barry Levine

    If everyone who wishes to go to that type of school is allowed to attend it would be a great idea, learning another language AND another alphabet would really increase a persons overall knowledge, but, if the main aim of the school is, “Kill the Americans in any way possible”, I do not think that such a school is a good idea!!!

    • Michael H.

      Why would the main aim of the school be “Kill the Americans in any way possible”?

      These are American children. Why the inflammatory comment?

  • nathan

    And cue the anti-Muslim hate in 3…2…1…

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