Guest Blog – With a Brooklyn Accent

Trickle Down Economics Without the Trickle- Thoughts on the Proposed 
Closing of PS 191 Near Lincoln Center
 
 
Yesterday, when I went to join the protest against the closing of a 
public school and middle school on 61st Street and 10th Avenue, two 
blocks from Fordham's Lincoln Center campus, I had a chance to walk 
around the area and I was stunned at how rapidly it was changing.  West 
of, and along 10th Avenue, it seemed that every inch of space, 
including the sites of what had once been  warehouses and garages, was 
being transformed into luxury apartment towers. The  PS 161 Schoolyard 
stood out for being the only flat area amidst the apartment towers, 
except for one small private park. No wonder developers coveted it! It 
was the only possible space to put up a new building, unless one 
knocked down the one public housing project left in the neighborhood, 
the Amsterdam Houses.
 
But as I walked around the neighborhood, I was stunned to find that 
such a densely populated place was almost completely devoid of people. 
Given the sheer number of apartments, I would have expected the streets 
to be crowded with bikers, walkers, people with strollers, folks going 
to and from work, or hanging out at cafes with their computers- the 
scene you could find any day in my own neighborhood of Park Slope, 
which was now a pretty rich area
 
But then I remember something I had been told about  the percentage of 
Manhattan apartments - one sixth -used as pied a terres ( second or 
third residences) by the global rich an thought- "What if no one is 
living in most of those apartments?" What if folks come to them two or 
three weeks out of the year to shop, sightsee, go to events at Lincoln 
Center? Would that explain the empty streets?
 
If that is true, and my gut instinct tells me it is, it makes the 
attempt to close schools there all the more pernicious. You are going 
to knock down a public school that served three generations of 
neighborhood residents, many of them living in the Amsterdam Houses, 
for people who aren't going to even LIVE in the apartment complex you 
are building! That
is, to use the vernacular, foul!!!
 
Middle class and working class families are now expendable in the 
globalizing city, be it Chicago, New York, or Washington, as are the 
institutions that serve them.
 
This is trickle down economics without the trickle
 
Mark D Naison
Professor of African American Studies and History
Fordham University
"If you Want to Save America's Public Schools: Replace Secretary of 
Education Arne Duncan With a Lifetime Educator." http://dumpduncan.org/
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