Today’s news:

Tell DOE: Put Down the Ax

Now that the city Department of Education has tasted blood, it appears nothing is going to stop it from chopping up Queens schools. The city Panel for Educational Policy voted 7-4 in March to halt freshman enrollment at IS 231 in Springfield Gardens. The DOE will phase out the old school and put two new schools — IS 355 and IS 356 — in its place.

The dissenting votes came from board members appointed by the Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Bronx borough presidents. They lack the ability to take the ax out of the hands of the Bloomberg appointees. And that ax has struck hard on the public schools in southeast Queens.

At some point, there will be three intermediate schools operating out of the same building with three administrations competing for space. The students remaining at IS 231 will know they are attending an institution that is on death row. Their school will be competing for resources with two new schools the DOE hopes to showcase.

City Councilman James Sanders said the principal at IS 231 has been working hard on a plan to turn around the school that includes improvements in academics and discipline. He is asking the city to give the school a second chance.

The DOE claims IS 231 and other schools were consistently performing poorly with low graduation rates. But closing schools does not address the problems the principals and teachers at these schools face. It is beyond frustrating that the DOE is not working with people like Sanders to address the problems at IS 231 and similar schools. Closing these schools is a kneejerk reaction that makes sense to number crunchers but not to educators. The bureaucrats have to get out of their offices in lower Manhattan and spend time in the schools they want to close.

The United Federation of Teachers has already succeeded in getting a judge to block the closing of several schools in Queens because the DOE did not seek parent input.

We urge the City Council to call for a moratorium on the closing of public schools until a system is created that will give the community and parents an opportunity for greater input.

These are their schools, serving their children.

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