To the Editor:
Recently I was at the pediatricians’ office here on Roosevelt Island. The topic of the new Beacon program and the difficulty this has brought to the Island was being discussed. Principal Beckman’s name arose and the person with whom I was talking stated, “It’s time for new leadership.”
I have been reflecting on that, recalling when the previous Beacon provider did not get the contract and there were posters circulated on the Island saying, “Time for Beckman to go.”
The transition to the new provider was tumultuous in many ways and having negative remarks made about my child’s principal did upset me; however, as a parent I have not found Principal Beckman to be a courteous or accessible school leader. I have requested meetings and emailed her a few times since my child began school. I have never had the courtesy of a reply. I sent a professional correspondence to her that was signed by more than half the parents of my child’s first-grade class and received no acknowledgement. She is strangely absent from events involving parents, such as the end-of-the-year picnic, perhaps showing up at the last minute to make an announcement. At the Mets fundraiser, I did not hear one child say hello to her, nor did I hear her speak to any child.
I continue to have concerns about Beacon. When I pick my child up, I observe staff on phones and little supervision of the children. My son continues to complain about the program, as do friends of his who attend or have attended prior to being pulled out by their parents. Yesterday, when I picked him up, I saw children playing with nerf guns and no one intervening. I hardly think gun play in a school setting is appropriate, especially in light of the tragedies that are happening as a result of guns in the wrong hands.
I wrote to Principal Beckman inquiring how long the Beacon contracts run, who chose the current provider, why the current provider does not have the same capacity to provide summer camp to our youth as in previous years, and if there will be an annual review and means for improving the program. As usual I have not received a reply.
I believe as parents and as a community, we need to have choice in publicly funded afterschool and recreation programs for our children. I am waiting to hear if RIOC funds the Youth Program next year. My child is much happier spending time with the people he has known since kindergarten and having fun with his friends in a relaxed setting with adults who engage.
I believe the leader of a school is a role model for students. Demonstrating good manners is important in a global society. It is a basic form of emotional intelligence that I would like for the leader of my child’s school to possess.
Since new leadership has now come into our afterschool program, I’m hoping a new leader will come to PS/IS 217, a leader who is available to parents and sensitive to the priorities of residents on the Island.
Editor’s Note: The Child Center of NY has a three-year contract to run the Beacon afterschool program at PS/IS 217. There is a parents’ advisory board that meets to discuss parent concerns and future programming. The meetings are open to all Beacon parents. Parents are also encouraged to offer feedback to Deep Ghosh, firstname.lastname@example.org.