Of all the outrageous, incredible news articles I’ve read today, this one brought tears to my eyes. Teaching children from a young age that those without access to money are excluded from life’s happiness – cruel, heartless, and unnecessary – just like the misery meted out on the poor in the world at large.
PS 120 in Flushing held a carnival for its students Thursday, but kids whose parents did not pay $10 were forced to sit in the auditorium while their classmates had a blast.
Close to 900 kids went to the Queens schoolyard affair, with pre-K to fifth-grade classes taking turns, each spending 45 minutes outside. The kids enjoyed inflatable slides, a bouncing room and a twirly teacup ride. They devoured popcorn and flavored ices. DJs blasted party tunes.
But more than 100 disappointed kids were herded into the darkened auditorium to just sit or watch an old Disney movie while aides supervised — the music, shouts and laughter outside still audible.
The must-pay rule excluded some of the poorest kids at the elementary, where most parents are Chinese immigrant families crammed into apartments and “struggling to keep their heads above water,” staffers said.
“It’s breaking my heart that there are kids inside,” one teacher said.
The teacher hugged a 7-year-old girl who was “crying hysterically.”
“She was the only one from her class who couldn’t go, so she was very upset,” the teacher said.
The girl told others, “My mom doesn’t care about me.” But the teacher said parents possibly did not see or understand the flier that went home or didn’t have $10 to spare.
“Are we being punished?” one child asked an aide in the auditorium as kids sat there with no movie playing, a staffer said.
Principal Joan Monroe tacked up a list of the number of students per class: “How many attending, Paid,” and “How many not attending, Not paid.”
On Thursday morning, Monroe used the school loudspeaker to remind teachers to send in a list of kids who did not pay.