Saturday, May 23, 2009

A mother's angry testimony to the City Council

Hi, my name is Denise Bigo-Early. I am a parent of five year old twins on the ninety child kindergarten wait list at our zoned, public school. I’m anxious, sleep deprived, and angry. Not a good combination for a parent speaking before the City Council for the first time.

I have to put up with $5 trillion of crushing new national debt to bail out the ineptly run banks on Wall Street. I have to put up with my tax dollars going to bonuses for the reckless that run those banks. I have to put up with $100 K disability pensions for LIRR workers who are not disabled. I have to put up with pay to play in our state and city.

I cannot put up with my five year olds being shut out of our zoned, public school; nor with the DOE promise of a seat somewhere in the five boroughs. There has been a lot of talk about keeping our five year olds close to home, but their only written communication to parents promises seats somewhere in NYC.

Some 25% of incoming kindergartners are on a wait list in my PS 3 + 41 zone. A dozen District 2 schools have wait lists. In District 1, PS 130 and PS 124 on Confucius Plaza are overcrowded.

I hope my children will be lucky and get into either PS 3 or PS 41. If they do, what awaits them? Not a lunch hour, but lunch minutes – 10 minutes, that begin at 10:30, In PS 3 there are five toilets for over 200 five year olds, huge chunks of plaster about to fall off walls in the stair wells, and mice. We are in a crisis. Business as usual must stop.

Some blame for this disaster falls at your feet. You had to know about the construction boom. Developers made hundreds of millions of dollars selling two- and three-bedroom condos in the West Village and Chelsea. Where are all of those children supposed to go to school? Over the last years, you let the DOE cram more and more children into schools that are cracking at the seams.

Now, you have before you the School Capital Spending plan. Instead of putting more money to the construction of badly needed schools, it contains a $ 2.5 Billion decrease from the previous budget! Vote against this budget. Fight for our children and insist that schools be built in our neighborhoods now.

You may be told that schools are planned in our neighborhood, like the one at the Foundling Hospital scheduled to come on line in several years. It will be overcrowded with the children from new construction not yet finished. We need more schools NOW. Don’t let anyone tell you we don’t have the money. Our city, state and country are awash in money going to the wrong places. You must redirect the money to our children and invest in schools before more children are shut out. -- Denise Bigo-Early

For more on the problem of school overcrowding, and those hundreds of Kindergarten students on wait lists, check out

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