Did you forget about Kahlil Gibran International Academy?
Over a year ago, controversy over the Kahlil Gibran International Academy unfolded, if you don’t know who Kahlil Gibran was stop reading and click here – yeah, he’s that important, in Brooklyn. The visible battle over the mission of the school, its practices, and its leadership put the academy in the national spotlight fonr discussions of ethnicity, language, religion and identity. But soon, this spotlight faded and many have forgotten that the school still is in operation. Colorlines runs a great web article by Seth Wessler entitled, “Silenced in the classroom” on what is happening with the school now. Spoiler alert, its a far cry from its original intentions. The article does a great job of discussing how education can be informed or deformed by our political conditions. I excerpt below.
The Khalil Gibran school was to have been a refuge in the midst of post-Sept. 11 New York City, a place where a mixed group of Arabic speakers and non-Arabic speakers would learn together. The school, which opened in 2007 with a sixth-grade class, was designed to grow into a middle and high school in the spirit of the more than 65 dual-language schools in New York City, which teach in Spanish, Creole, Russian and other languages. By graduation, it was expected that Khalil Gibran students would have a command of Arabic and an understanding of the cultural context in which the language exists.
According to some of the school’s original students, parents and teachers, the Khalil Gibran school retains little more than its name as it enters its second year. It is no longer a place where tolerance and respect are fostered. Hassan Omar, the humanities and Arabic teacher who felt so intimidated that he cut images of mosques from textbooks, remembered, “When I first heard about the school, I thought it was a dream, with a rigorous curriculum and intensive language program. The dream collapsed and became a nightmare.”