Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Will Littlest Ivy Leaguers Be From Roosevelt Island - PTA Seeks To Rename PS/IS 217 The Cornell Tech Roosevelt Island School

Image From The Ivy Coach

The Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 PTA sent out an email today advising parents of an Emergency PTA meeting on December 4 to discuss renaming the school The Cornell Tech Roosevelt Island School.

Upon receipt of the email, one parent remarked:
I suppose our kids could someday tell people they went to Cornell (then mumble the rest of the name).
 Who knows, perhaps Roosevelt Island will soon be home to the littlest Ivy Leaguers!!

Here's the PS/IS 217 PTA email:
Thursday, December 4, 4pm - Emergency PTA Meeting - School Renaming

What’s in a name?
We have some exciting news to announce! In partnership with Cornell Tech, we are looking to re-name our school and reap the full benefits of an association with the prestigious higher education institution that will soon be our island neighbor. Since this is just the beginning of a two-year process, we wanted to start by giving all our parents up-to-the-minute information about the latest developments. We hope you’ll be as thrilled with the news as the rest of us are!

What is the proposed new name of the school?
The Cornell Tech Roosevelt Island School. The school will retain 217 as its numeric code for the Department of Education.

Why are you adding “Cornell Tech” to the name of our school?
In 2013, Cornell Tech and New York City entered into an agreement to build a university campus on Roosevelt Island. New York City residents and taxpayers would provide free land, hundreds of millions of dollars in construction bond financing and tax abatements. As part of the deal negotiation, Cornell pledged to ‘adopt’ 217 as part of its educational mission. Adding “Cornell Tech” to the official name of the school is a formalization of that commitment.

Why is the name of a school important?
In Sept 2014, NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina directed principals to develop marketing and branding for their schools to make them as attractive to families as possible. Farina said, “Part of the problem that we have is, how do you sell the schools? How do we tell the story of what's happening in your schools so that you keep them as attractive as possible? It’s a competition against each other. And many of the schools have the same message. So how do you have a different message so that you’re doing something a little bit different?”

Why is Cornell Tech’s name valuable to our school?
We have a unique opportunity and a strategic advantage with our relationship with Cornell Tech. We are one of the very few NYC public schools that has a commitment from a university to help with funding, resources, and educational development. The ability to utilize Cornell Tech’s name will help with raising our school’s visibility, grant funding opportunities, and student recruitment.

What will Cornell Tech do for our school?
As part of the deal with the New York City Council, Cornell Tech “embraces the opportunity to adopt PS/IS 217 as part of Cornell’s educational mission.” A number of ways have been identified by Principal Beckman where Cornell would be involved in the school including teacher training and support, STEM education, after-school programming courses, teach events, career day options, and hardware/software programming development. All of these elements are items that Cornell is anxious to pursue and commits to include in its educational outreach as the campus develops.

Has the school sold its naming rights?
No. You can not “sell” naming rights to a New York City public school. However, there are several successful examples of universities adopting NYC public schools such as Hunter, Columbia, and Queens College and thereby formally added their names to the school. Additionally, there are examples, and there is a process for, honorific re-naming in recognition of donors/grantors for school buildings and/or ‘specialized areas’ of public schools such as libraries, playgrounds, auditoriums, etc.

Will Cornell Tech determine the curriculum?
No. The curriculum will always be determined by the school’s administration in collaboration with teachers and parents. Cornell Tech will have an advisory role in curriculum development.

Music, art, writing, and foreign languages are important. Will they be de-emphasized if the name changes?
No. Our school, 217, is committed to the development of the whole child. We will continue to have excellent enrichment resources including music, art, writing, foreign languages, physical education, and cultural studies.

What is the process of renaming or adding a name to the school?
The Chancellor shall have ultimate authority over the naming and renaming of all public schools. Schools shall follow the procedures in this regulation and submit a proposed name change for approval by the Chancellor’s designee by March 1st of the year before the name change is to take effect. There is a codified multi-step process which includes a public notification, public hearing, Community Education Council, PTA endorsement, Principal endorsement, Superintendent approval and finally the Chancellor. However, the Chancellor, or her designee, must give final approval to the name change and retains the right to waive any requirements. For more information on this process, visit the NYC Dept of Education website.

Why is the proposal to rename the school going forward now?
It takes approximately 1-2 years to rename a school. We are starting the process now because construction of Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island recently commenced. Roosevelt Island community leaders have identified Cornell Tech’s contributions towards 217 as one of the positive and productive benefits that the university can give back to the local community. We are pursuing the re-naming now to synchronize the benefit to the school with the burden to the community.
Also, last July 28, Cornell Tech's new Director of K-12 Education Jane Levitt spoke to the Roosevelt Island Cornell Community and Construction Task Force about plans for Cornell working with Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217 and other NYC schools. Here's what Ms. Levitt had to say.


Janet Falk said...

As a cyclist who owns a bike and also uses a CitiBike subscription, I voted for the program to expand to RI. CitiBike on RI will encourage visitors to explore the Island by bicycle and perhaps not re-board the tram the minute they land here. Visitors might even shop in our stores and get a bite to eat at one of the restaurants, if only there was a sign that pointed these places out.

As for local use, one logistical issue is that there needs to be TWO stations: one convenient to the tram or subway and another on Main Street, to promote shopping, perhaps in the area behind the bus shelter between the Deli and 591. I anticipate the bikes might be taken on the tram to Manhattan and not come back here unless forcibly returned by CitiBike employees. At different times of day, the docks at 58/2 are depleted, largely because they are the northern-most outpost.

When I raised the issue of bikes being deposited at a remote docking station, such as The Octagon, with the B-Cycle program in 2010 (http://rooseveltislander.blogspot.com/2010/08/bicycle-sharing-one-step-closer-to.html), the manager said that, when bikes pile up at one end, they will be loaded into a truck and driven to where they are needed. This is something that CitiBike will have to address when it comes to RI.

Let's not let the recent unfortunate accident deter us from bringing more bicycles and cyclists to safely ride on the Island.

Frank Farance said...

PS/IS 217 should not be renamed. Cornell has done virtually nothing for Roosevelt Island, other than break a water main and create trucking and pollution. Cornell renaming the RIVAA gallery rationalizes the higher retail cost, which translates into higher costs for all of us. And, on top of that, their grad school is providing lousy degrees (as I've pointed out previously) ... it's like seeing people wear Harvard T-shirts and discovering that they only went to its summer program.

If you take away all the hangers-on who think they are going get something directly/indirectly out of this transaction with Cornell (there are many people in that category), and you carefully look at what Cornell has done and is contractually committed to do, you'll see that many are fascinated by the Cornell brand, yet there is little substance.

CheshireKitty said...

I agree. This seems somewhat "gimmicky" or an attempt to capitalize on a trend - unless Cornell actually does "adopt" the school (provide funds for various programs, or let kids from PS 217 participate in programs at Cornell Tech).

KTG said...

I agree but there are some perceptual advantages of attaching the Cornell name particularly when in filling for corporate grants which is great source for funding enrichment prgrams.

Frank Farance said...

Here is more on Cornell and their poor grad program on Roosevelt Island "http://rooseveltislander.blogspot.com/2014/09/youre-invited-to-cornell-nyc-tech-new.html#comment-1582470396"

Comment 1> We're thinking "Cornell, Great!" but did you see the
degrees they are offering? Pretty lame one-year master's degrees that
have little value (as you can see from the LinkedIn bios). So you're
mixing sound for concerts, take a Cornell Masters degree in Computer
Science, and you get to write baby code. It sounds like they're outta
touch with what one needs to do real work in this field.

Comment 2> Went to Cornell coffee at RIVAA. Happy that RIVAA is
staying, but Cornell's partnership just raises the rents($45-55/sqft)
and merchants' prices. Thanks Cornell(NOT!).

FF Comment 3> Although the NYT column described it well, in the
field of Learning, Education, and Training, I see it as the learner has
of Education (primarily about acquiring knowledge) vs. Training
(primarily about acquiring skill/competencies). With Education, you're
building your knowledge, which might or might not have direct
applicability to work/career. With Training, you're knocking off
further achievements (skills, competencies, etc.). The MEng degree is a
terminal degree, and a professional accomplishment. An MS is further
study, and a PhD is much more study.

mookie113 said...

More smoke & mirrors. I've never heard of a deal where a corporate entity is bestowed naming privileges without any endowment. Just a matter of time before we're Cornell Island - 100% students, 0% affordable housing.

CheshireKitty said...

I agree that the proposal should not be acted upon until there is more than a commitment from Cornell. Probably, there should be a written agreement that Cornell will come through in its pledge to adopt the school before the school applies for the name change. The name change must be warranted by the level of support, otherwise it's almost like deceptive advertising. If for example Cornell is going to buy one new tablet for the school, and that's the extent of the support, then the name change is not warranted. If OTOH Cornell buys tablets for every student to use, then the name change is warranted.

Also, if the school is going to be adopted by Cornell, then there should be a full-blown tech option (or area of concentration) available at the school to justify the renaming. Cornell certainly could work with the school to develop a tech curriculum for 217, and maybe have some Cornell grad students participate, maybe teach classes.

Maybe Cornell will have signed an agreement to adopt the school by the time the application wends its way through the bureaucracy. To me, without having an agreement in writing setting forth specifics such as the amount of funding, it is sort of "deceptive" or "far-fetched" to rename the school (i.e. if the school really has nothing to do with the area of technology Cornell-Tech is involved with).

Frank Farance said...

Heard from two people: Cornell unaware of PS 217 renaming, PTA was hoping to entice Cornell funds by the rename. Can anyone confirm what Cornell has offered and when they made the offer? Someone told me there was an emergency PTA meeting yesterday. Any details?

If true, it seems like a bad idea to rename the school with the belief that it increases you chance of getting funds from them. If Cornell is funding the school, it should be substantial and long-term, not just some tidbits, and it should be transparent to the community. And the rename should come after 5-10 years of substantive and continuous effort/funding by Cornell.

CarnetBleu said...

Hi, I just saw this post. I am the parent of a ps 217 student and was at the emergency meeting. I do not agree for the school to be renamed but voted for it due to peer pressure. We were told that Cornell was given the enormous piece of land rent free for 99 years, a huge grant by Bloomberg and an anonymous $ 350 million (right!!) while Cornell tech has a "contract" with NYC city to adopt the school which I have yet to see. Yes, the renaming is a strategy to generate some pressure for Cornell to step in because they have done NOTHING so far. SHAME ON CORNELL TECH!

CarnetBleu said...

Exactly! I can not bear them here on the island. They will be taking over everything that's left. They have 99 years rent free thanks to Bloomberg.

CarnetBleu said...

Their contract with NYCity has a vague mention of that they are supposed to adopt the school but the lack of detail on this matter allows them to to nothing for ps 217.

YetAnotherRIer said...

"I do not agree for the school to be renamed but voted for it due to peer pressure."

CheshireKitty said...

Anyway, the issue is moot since Cornell has a strict policy that does not allow its name to be used unless they own a facility. Thus, the adoption or partnership with any of the schools Cornell offered to help, cannot result in the adoption of the Cornell name by those schools.

CheshireKitty said...

I wonder if that will be the case.

I'm not opposed to a tech campus in NYC, but I'm not sure RI was the best location. It's a cramped area that leaves little room for expansion - in which case, maybe Cornell will take over additional land on RI, such as the Steam Plant, or even gobble up Southpoint Park someday. There are always rumors it will buy a residential tower and if Bloomberg awarded the Goldwater land to Cornell, who's to say whether a future Mayor may award the Coler land to Cornell one day as well?

There is more land elsewhere, other than on RI - certainly Governor's Island would have been an equally spectacular location but there is very little infrastructure (no subway - only the ferry) there.

I think the "natural" location would have been the Navy Yard, or any of the other mostly disused industrial areas in NYC - some of which are located by rivers etc. A Navy Yard location would have also symbolized a renaissance of new technology/industry rising out of abandoned old industrial sites.

Brooklyn is also the hippest area in the City so the campus would have benefited from people who want to be in the center of that hipness had it been located there.

Yet, there are other areas besides the Navy Yard acres and acres of de-industrialized areas that could have been made available to Cornell that would have also allowed later expansion if needed.

Why the powers-that-be considered the compact area of land on RI - with the little circumferential road - a positive, I don't know although I'm sure it will work out in the end. W. Queens is undergoing transformation - so the new hi-rise buildings and parks that have replaced de-industrialized areas by the E. River in W. Queens, and the new campus, may somehow "benefit" from the synergy or proximity between of these redeveloping areas. Also, I think the idea is business ventures that may be spawned at Cornell will find plenty of space in W. Queens. Of course that would have also been the case at the Navy Yard/other largely abandoned industrial areas as well.

But, RI has been used for many things since Colonial days, so why not as the site of a college campus?