NEW YORK (Jan. 6)
The Association of Orthodox Jewish Teachers of the New York City Public Schools, which claims to represent 5,000 of the city’s 70,000 public school teachers, has protested the “discrimination” against Jewish students in Brooklyn College’s “elimination” of its School of General Studies (SGS). In a letter to the college’s president, Dr. John W. Kneller, AOJT president Philip Kipust asserted:
“While the plan may or may not result in the saving of money for the city, it would impose an impossible task on the 8,000 SGS students who for a variety of reasons cannot attend early classes. Many of the students, matriculated and non-matriculated, work during the day; others are housewives who can attend only after their families have been taken care of; still others take certain specialized courses offered during the day only and must take their academic work in the evening.”
This last group, Kipust noted, “includes thousands of yeshiva students, boys and girls.” Brooklyn College, part of the City University, has one of the largest percentages of Jewish students in the system–an estimated 18,000 of a total of 28,000, of whom some 5.000 are Orthodox. As a result, Kipust pointed out, the “elimination” of the SGS would affect Jewish students more than any others.
OTHER OPTIONS OPEN TO COLLEGE
Kipust, a teacher at Eastern District High School in Brooklyn, said that the SGS “elimination” will “in effect” be “discrimination” against Jewish students, since the administration could have chosen to cut back on such programs as open enrollment and remedial teaching, which primarily aid non-white students. Kipust stressed, however, that ideally he favored full-scale continuation of all these pro-grams. What he opposes, he explained, is the “injustice” of “helping one minority at the expense of another.” He warned that he could “foresee it happening at the other colleges (here) too,” though with not as much effect on the Jewish studentry.
The AOJT leader said he would give Dr. Kneller two more weeks to reply to his protest, which was mailed at the turn of the New Year. If there is no reply by then, he said, he would publicize the issue in the AOJT Newsletter, with the next stage–if necessary–being a letter-writing campaign directed at municipal and community leaders. He drew the line, however, at demonstrations, picketing or harassment. “We’re not a group that goes in for those tactics,” he explained.
DISCRIMINATION CHARGE UNFOUNDED
An administration spokesman said he did not know if Kipust’s letter had been received. But he said the term “School of General Studies” was merely an “administrative” label and that fears such as those expressed by Kipust were unfounded. There have been charges that evening classes will be cancelled, “but that is not true,” the spokesman asserted; the set-up will be “just like nothing has happened.” The alleged discrimination, as he said he has told protesters “more than 500 times” is a “misconception” fostered by the “small group of students”–representing various campus factions–who regularly attend and speak up at campus meetings.
Dr. Kneller has said repeatedly in public statements that evening classes will not be adversely affected by the new development. In addition, City University Chancellor Robert J. Kibbee said Dec. 22 that there was “no plan” to “reduce or eliminate” evening classes anywhere within the system; “in point of fact, quite the contrary is true.” Kibbee said the protests were based on “patently misleading information.”