The city Department of Education (DOE) has delivered a “slap in the face” to parents in southern Brooklyn.
At an education meeting last week, parents from Coney Island and Bensonhurst criticized the DOE’s decision to allow school bake sales benefiting Haiti, while keeping restrictions on sales benefiting local schools.
“It’s a wonderful idea [to help Haiti], but our children are our priority and we should be able to fund-raise for our kids,” Linda Dalton, whose children attend I.S. 239 in Coney Island and P.S. 95 in Gravesend, said at a meeting of School District 21’s Community Education Council (CEC). “To us parents, it’s a slap in the face. We want to fund-raise for our children.”
The DOE’s new rules, implemented to combat childhood obesity, allow Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA) to hold bake sales once a month after lunch time and sell desserts after 6 p.m. on weekdays.
Brooklynites say schools are suffering as a result, especially since they are struggling to deal with budget cuts.
“A lot of schools lost programs because of the lack of snacks,” Dalton said.
“This restriction is hurting after-school activities,” said Maryanne Russo, a member of I.S. 239’s PTA. “A lot of clubs are going to be cut because they don’t have the money to fund them. It’s really hurting them.”
Martine Guerrier, the DOE’s chief family engagement officer, insisted, “There isn’t a complete ban, it’s just limited.”
Guerrier encouraged parents to accept the new bake sale rules and find other ways to raise revenue for local schools.
“There are opportunities to fund-raise by partnering with organizations,” she said. “Or opening flea markets.”
“There are a lot of other things that schools are doing to raise money. Candy [sales] are just one of them,” she said. “They’re doing T-shirts, sweatshirts. There’s a lot more we can do beyond candy.”
If the DOE truly wants to end childhood obesity, it better do more than take brownies out of schools, asserted Cecile Iacono, president of District 21’s Presidents Council, which is comprised of PTA and Parent Association (PA) leaders.
“Physical education has to be put into the schools — from once a week to two or three times a week,” she suggested.