Sunday, January 11, 2009


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The blog has learned that children at Brooklyn's MS 313 are now being forced to sing a gospel tune as their official school song. Several sources have told me that this week, during a pep rally, the students sang such a lackluster version of Antwaun Stanley's "I Can Do Anything," they were ordered to sing it a second time, but with feeling. One teacher explained how Principal Suzane Joseph, " walked up and down the aisle looking for any student who was not singing." Says the source, " I was disgusted upon listening."

When confronted by a student about introducing religion in New York City public schools, Ms. Joseph reportedly told the student, it's not a church song. Try telling that to the artist himself, a talented college freshman from Flint, Michigan, who's all the rage in the Christian music scene.

"It is a young style of music that genuinely ministers to the heart of listeners, and allows a one-to-one connection with God. If you've had experiences like mine or face different challenges in your life, I want people to know that with hope and faith, there is nothing you can't conquer," Anthony said during an interview.

Stanley's recording company describes him this way: "Antwaun Stanley is the newest Christian music singer poised to breakout onto the faith based music scene. Antwaun Stanleys mantra, which has carried throughout his life, has been I Can Do Anything. While maintaining a rigorous college curriculum, he is busily scheduling church and youth concerts, photo shoots and recording his first Christian Music CD."

Now, don't get me wrong. Not only is Stanley a talented singer, but he preaches a solid message. You can listen to the song yourself and while there is no direct mention of God in the lyrics, the song is clearly a prayer to God to allow him to "Do anything." To listen, simply double-click on "I Can Do Anthing" at the bottom of the box of five songs.

I Can Do Anything

Not only is it illegal to mix church with state (state being the public school system), the Chancellors regulations are quite clear. They state children have a right not to sing or even sit out such a performance. But, sources say those who refused to sing-a-long were threatened with suspension, a common practice of Ms. Joseph.

But, the allegations against Ms. Joseph don't stop there. Says one teacher, "Teachers up at MS 313 are treated with no respect. They are screamed at in front of the children, as well as their professional standing is discussed with the children present."

Even before she became principal and as an Assistant Principal, another teacher writes, "From the beginning, she was verbally abusive to students, while being an ineffective disciplinarian." The learning environment, this former teacher explains, was compromised by the way she treated students, "At the same time, Ms. Joseph would scream at and insult students in the hallways on their way to class (and insult their family members as well)."

There's even controversy surrounding a popular coach whose only crime was to break up a school yard fight and report the incident to his union. "It was passed on to me that Ms. Joseph tried to remove the coach because he and Ms. Joseph were friends, which could cause a problem with him talking to other teachers." The teacher continues, "He has brought stability to a program that use to get no respect in this neighborhood. It is shame that now there is no program for other young ladies and the young men’s team has yet to play a game."

It's about time, the chief schools investigator takes a look at how Ms. Joseph runs MS 313. I believe children need discipline, but they also need respect and unfortunately for the children, teachers and parents, Ms. Joseph is not up to the challenge. I encourage you to pass this blog entry on to anyone who cares. Email it to the Board of Education. Point it out to parents and students. Understand, I am not on a witch hunt here. When numerous people tell me these stories, in person and via email and representing different interests, the story gains credibility. Our children deserve better. They NEED better.

1 comment:

  1. I have questions to anyone that reads this. "Where are the superiors that know this is a violation of the children’s rights?" The DOE has it written as a student's right that they have the right to sit and withhold saying The Pledge of Allegiance, so why was this forced singing of this song allowed? Who does Ms. Joseph know that allows this to be acceptable? Someone needs to contact Mr. Machen concerning this problem and this principal.
    How and why does he allow this to happen in his district?
    Well this is the the info I found for all who needs it.. Please contact
    District 13
    Superintendent James Machen
    335 Park Place
    Brooklyn, NY 11238
    Phone: (718) 935-3234


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