Please join us at the PTO general monthly meeting, on Tuesday, January 23rd at 6:30 pm. This month we will have an especially interesting discussion regarding a proposal to change the PS 9 school name. You will find helpful information below in advance of the meeting.
Tuesday, January 23rd, 2017
6:30 to 8:00 pm
In the Book Hive (Library)
Meeting agenda will include:
- Principal’s Address
- Discussion about a New School Name
- Upcoming Community Building Opportunities
- Upcoming Fundraising Events
The P.S. 9 PTO is considering changing the name of the school and would like your thoughts.
Don’t worry, it will still be P.S. 9. But in the past year, as communities around the country have been considering the historical significance of names and monuments, we at P.S. 9 are also thinking about changing the name of our school from “The Teunis Bergen School” to “The Shirley Chisholm School.” The Department of Education regulations for name changes require the PTO to vote on the potential name, the principal to approve it, and then for the school to send it to the Chancellor’s office for final approval.
We would like parents to weigh in on this decision, and encourage you to attend the PTO meeting on January 23, 2018, where we will vote on the proposed name change. If you will not be able to attend the meeting, please feel free to share your thoughts with a PTO representative in advance of the meeting.
Who Was Teunis Bergen?
Teunis Bergen was born in 1806 to the influential Bergen family. He was a surveyor and an historian, and served as the town supervisor of New Utrecht from 1836 to 1859, and in the US Congress representing New York’s second congressional district from 1861-65. Bergen’s papers are collected at the New York Historical Society, and their catalogue can be seen at https://brooklynhistory.org
Who Was Shirley Chisholm?
Shirley Chisholm was born in 1924. Her father was from Guyana and her mother was from Barbados. After graduating with honors from Brooklyn College she worked in early childhood education, obtained a Master’s degree from Columbia, and served as a consultant to the New York City Division of Day Care. In 1964, she was elected to the New York State Legislature, and in 1968 she became the first African American woman to serve in the US Congress, representing the 12th Congressional District, which then included Bedford Stuyvesant and Prospect Heights.
Chisholm ran for the democratic nomination for president in 1972, the first African-American (and the second woman) to run for a major party’s nomination. She won 10% of the delegates in the 1972 primary season. She continued to serve in Congress until 1983, after which she returned to teaching by joining the faculty of Mount Holyoke before retiring to Florida.
Chisholm was an advocate for racial justice and for ending the Vietnam War. She fought for the poor and for children, and was one of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus. Moreover, she serves as an inspiration to those who have been left out of the political process and who seek to join it. Just this year, Chisholm’s quote, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair,” was embraced by Tamaya Dennard’s successful run for the city council of Cincinnati: Dennard created the hashtag #bringafoldingchair for her campaign, and brought a folding chair to her swearing-in.
Why Change the Name Now?
We began looking into the potential name change in the wake of the national debate on monument names and the mayor’s commission examining historic monuments and markers. While one factor in the investigation was the fact that the Bergen family owned slaves, Teunis himself was born in 1806, seven years after New York passed the Gradual Emancipation Act, which phased out slavery in the state.
Nevertheless, there is ample preservation of the Bergen family name in New York – Bergen Street and Bergen Beach, to name just two examples. There is no school named after Chisholm (there is a New York State Office building and a day care center), and we thought that the moment was right to consider a change.