What’s in a name? Marty says a lot

The Brooklyn Paper
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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 study his life in the classroom and on visits to Green-Wood Cemetery, where McKenzie is buried.

“This boy was an unsung hero,” said PTA president Nicholas Pisano. “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 the message of citizenship and doing stuff for other people.”

Cohen might not have gone to war, but she fought in the 1960s and ’70s, marching on Albany for funding for schools, playgrounds, gifted programs and pre-K classes.

Yet her contributions have faded. And renaming proponents say that her family has not maintained 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.”

Updated 4:01 pm, November 10, 2010
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Reasonable discourse

KJ from Brooklyn says:
Incomplete reporting! The renaming of this school is actually a marketing maneuver by Greenwood Cemetery, which is only a few blocks away, and which has already has a statue honoring the Civil war boy. The quoted PTA spokesman is an executive at Greenwood. The "vote" he speaks of, in favor of renaming, was taken at a closed meeting, whereas the vote taken at the prior open public meeting was unaminous in favor of keeping the name for the local communityy leader Doris L. Cohen.
What's next? Corporate naming rights being sold by the Board of Ed for local elementary schools?
BP Marty gets this one right 100% and kudos to him for speaking out. How about naming the library at the school for the Civil War Boy and ask Greenwood Cemetery to sponsor a reading program, since the school already pays for the kids to go visit Greenwood on class trips.
April 4, 2008, 8:42 am

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