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Community Ignored in School Closure Plan

TimesLedger Newspapers

Despite criticism, the city Department of Education is moving forward with its plan to close “struggling” neighborhood schools and reopen them in the same building with new names.

In northeastern Queens, the DOE is targeting Flushing High School. The school will close at the end of the school year and reopen as a “new school” in the fall. The plan is maddening and opposed by nearly every elected official and the communities that these schools serve.

This is a show put on in order to receive federal School Improvement Grants. The city Panel for Education Policy is scheduled to vote April 26 on whether or not to close Flushing and other schools. The PEP has never voted against the wishes of the puppet master at City Hall.

What sense do the closings make? If these schools are not performing up to the standards set by the DOE, then find out why and make the changes that need to be made. This will require investing more money into the schools and making certain teachers have the textbooks and equipment they need to deliver a quality education. The DOE plan to close and reopen schools will also require a substantial investment.

The DOE needs to look at class sizes, infrastructure and the challenges faced by students in each of these schools. It may be that the administrations need to be changed and some teachers may need to be trained. After years of neglect, it is infuriating the DOE has decided to destroy schools.

The last time the DOE held a public meeting to discuss this approach, the people who could squeeze in were so angry the DOE officials could not be heard. But the officials did not get the message that parents with children in the targeted schools are mad as hell.

The United Federation of Teachers is opposed to the plan. Sadly, the Bloomberg administration has never listened to or shown respect for the teachers’ union.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky, a member of the Senate Education Committee, said “Flushing HS is beginning to turn itself around” and pointed out that graduation rates have improved three years in a row.

“We don’t need additional layers of educational bureaucracy,” she said.

Good luck.

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