Letter to the Editor by CUNY Professor

Re: Plan to Open an Arabic School in Brooklyn Arouses Protests

Debbie Almontaser, principal of the planned Khalil Gibran Academy, has long been a well respected New York City educator working with communities to foster cross cultural understandings. She is a co-founder of Brooklyn Bridges, the September 11th Curriculum Project and the We Are All Brooklyn Coalition. In June of 2002 she coordinated a mural-making project at PS 230 to document the cross-cultural friendships and alliances that flourished in the aftermath of September 11th.

Those of us committed to public education in New York City should be most grateful that Ms. Almontaser has agreed to direct the new Khalil Gibran Academy where children from across racial and ethnic groups will be invited to study deeply both Arabic language and culture.

“Debbie Almontaser has long been a well respected educator working to foster cross cultural understandings…”

The New York City Department of Education should stand firmly behind this school — it will serve us all well. Media criticisms of this proposed school ironically reveal how desperately we need the Gibran Academy. Perhaps the curricula could be made available city-wide so that children across the city can learn how to challenge the stereotypes that pollute the public imagination about Arabs, Muslims and Islam. And then, maybe, the children will teach the rest of us.

Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Urban Education
The Graduate Center, CUNY


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