Borough President Markowitz is siding with the descendants of Doris Cohen in their battle to get a Kensington elementary school to retain their mother’s name.
PS 230 on Albemarle Road has been named for the longtime volunteer and school board member, but the Parent Teacher Association voted earlier this month to re-name the school for Clarence McKenzie, a drummer boy from Brooklyn killed in the Civil War by friendly fire.
Parents and teachers say McKenzie’s name belongs on the school because students are familiar with his life, thanks to studying him in the classroom and on visits to Green-Wood Cemetery, where McKenzie is buried under a large monument.
“This boy was an unsung hero,” said PTA president Nicholas Pisano, who is also a vice-president at Green-Wood Cemetery.
“I’m not saying a 12-year-old should go off to war, but in this day where most kids are plugged into their iPods, [McKenzie’s story] brings them back to a different reality.
“It’s the message of citizenship and doing stuff for other people,” he added
Cohen might not have gone off to war, but she fought her battles in the 1960s and ’70s, when city teachers went on strike. Cohen marched on Albany for school funding increases and also helped get playgrounds, gifted programs and pre-K classes set up at PS 230 and other schools.
Yet her contributions have faded, renaming proponents say, due to faculty turnover and the family’s lack of involvement.
Markowitz did not know Cohen, but in a March 19 letter to the local Community Education Council — which will approve or dismiss the plan to rename PS 230 at its April or May meeting — he wrote that “Doris L. Cohen’s tireless work on behalf of young people made the world a better place and I urge you to retain her name on PS 230.”
But the parents aren’t budging.
“From our end … it passed a vote and we stand by that vote,” said Pisano. “Whatever the outcome is we’ll abide by it, but we hope [the Community Education Council] will respect the wishes of parents, too.”
©2008 Community News Group
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