More School Closings -- Part II
December 7th, 2010

The Department of Education has released its second group of proposed school phase-outs and closing,- essentially shutting an additional 14 schools. Along with the schools announced yesterday, the city plans to phase out or shut down 25 schools and not renew one charter school.

Today’s list includes several schools whose closing attracted heated opposition last academic year, including Jamaica, Paul Robeson and Christopher Columbus high schools. Those schools got a reprieve last year when the courts agreed that the city had violated the state law in the way it closed the schools.

Today’s announcement spares another 30 schools, which the Department of Education had also indicated as failing. The department’s press release said, “The work to turn them around must start now.”

That “turn around” list includes four schools on last year’s closing list: Choir Academy of Harlem, W.H Maxwell Career and Technical School, Middle School for Academic and Social Excellence, and Business, Computer Applications, and Entrepreneurship High School. The city cited signs of progress in these schools, including an A on the school profess report for the Choir School.

Interestingly, though, one school slated for a partial phase-out last year — Alfred E. Smith High School in the Bronx — is not on any of the current endangered lists. The city originally planned to house a controversial charter school at Smith but abandoned that idea after allegations of improprieties and concern about the charter’s program.

As with yesterday’s list, today is diverse. While it does not include any charter schools, it does include some new small schools as well as larger, more traditional schools. Many of the schools grappled with problems long plaguing the school system: difficult students, poor facilities and severe overcrowding.

Reaction and more on the individual schools after the jump.

Already the closings are drawing some criticism. ” I am baffled as to why the DOE does not encourage these schools to work with one another. I will continue to hold the DOE accountable to support our schools and not give up on our children, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said in a statement.

In a post on NYC Public School Parents, Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters said the education departments deserves some blame for the schools’ “failure.” She wrote, ” Most of these students at these schools continue to suffer from overly large classes that far exceed the state average of 20 students per class, as well as the goals in the city’s mandated class size reduction plan. In fact, class sizes have risen sharply in most of the schools slated for closure.”

Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, which filed the successful suit to stop last year’s closings, said the process seemed better this year, but he held out the possibility of further legal action.

Today proposed phase-outs and closing:
P.S. 114, Ryder School, in Canarsie; grade pre-k through5. This school made the news last year when the special investigator for schools found a former principal mismanage funds at P.S. 114, leaving it $100,000 in debt;

P.S. 332, Charles H. Houston School, in Bushwick; grades pre-k through 8. This was one of the schools slated for closure last year;

Frederick Douglas Academy III in the South Bronx; grade 6 through 12. The school sought to replicate the original Frederick Douglass Academy school, in Harlem, but according to the education department “has struggled over the past three years,” with low test scores. It was originally slated for closure last year;

I.S. 195, Roberto Clemente, in Morningside Heights; grade 6 through 8;

M.S. 344, Academy of Collaborative Education, in Harlem; grades 6 through 8. This small school — around 200 students — opened in 2006 aiming to provide math and technology programs for its black and Hispanic students, hoping to help many of them gain admission to New York’s selective public high schools. It was slated for closure last year, and this fall had the lowest grade of any middle school on the school progress reports on report cards.

P.S. 102, Joseph O. Loretan School for Creative Arts, in Parkchester; grade pre-k through 5;

Metropolitan Corporate Academy High School in downtown Brooklyn; grades 9 through 12. This school launched with help of Goldman Sachs but from a description on Inside Schools it seems the school only accentuated the gulf between the haves on Wall Streets and the have-nots in many city public schools. Most students, the site said, “see only the cramped hallways and patched walls in the school’s antiquated building, once used as a Civil War hospital. The small school doesn’t have a gym, a real cafeteria, an auditorium, or an actual library.” It was slated for closure last year;

Monroe Academy for Business Law in Soundview; grades 9 through 12. Another school slated for closure last year, this school dates back to a mid 1990s effort to break up big high schools into small one. The school — in the former James Monroe High School,– though has long been plagued with problems, including appearing on the state’s list of failing schools in 2003 and suffering through a renovation project that ran behind schedule, keeping the school’s library shut for years;

Performance and Conservatory High School in Crotona Park; grades 9 through 12. This is a another relatively new small high school that had difficulties seemingly from its launch in 2004. Originally opened as the Bronx High School of Performance and Stagecraft, it dropped the stagecraft idea after a year because of concerns about the safety of equipment;

Jamaica High School in Jamaica; grades 9 through 12. One of the city’s remaining big, general high schools, Jamaica, which in the words of teacher Marc Epstein ” survived six wars, the Great Depression, and 9/11″ was slated for closure last year. Although it remained open this year, it saw the number of new student plummet and its budget cut deeply’

Norman Thomas High School in midtown Manhattan; grades 9 through 12. This school suffered from overcrowding and high levels of violence several years ago, the result, some believe, of the city’s shutting down other schools and sending additional students to Norman Thomas. In six years, enrollment mushroomed from 1,800 student to 2,700. The school’s effort to close the school last year may have solved that problem, as relatively students elected to enroll as first year students at Norman Thomas this fall.

Paul Robeson High School in Crown Heights; grade 9 through 12. One of the remaining large, general high schools in Brooklyn, it was slated for closure last year. At a hearing in January, legions of teachers and students spoke to protest the closing, citing special programs at the school including one for students with children.

Christopher Columbus High School in the northeast Bronx; grades 9 through 12. This was one of last year’s most controversial proposed closings, as staff and students argued that Columbus served a challenging student population — it has a high level of homeless students — and had benefitted from a restructuring.

Global Enterprise High School in the northeast Bronx; grades 9 through 12. Another new small school — this one opened as partnership with the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. in 2003 to help students learn about entrepreneurship. It was on last year’s closing list.

By on December 7, 2010, 2:41 pm
In category: Education,Gotham City | 5 Comments »

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