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How to Kill a High School

TimesLedger Newspapers

The city Department of Education’s agenda to shutter schools has drawn fierce oppositions from communities throughout the borough.

In Jamaica, Astoria and Flushing, politicians, teachers and parents have expressed their frustration with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to close 26 schools and reopen them in the same building with a different name.

Last week in its decision, the DOE gave a last-minute reprieve to two politically connected schools on the same day the mayor’s puppet policy panel was set to approve the closure of two dozen others.

The DOE decided to take Grover Cleveland High School in Queens, the alma mater of state Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, and Bushwick Community HS in Brooklyn, which had the support of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, off the chopping block.

In a report, the DOE attempted to explain why it is closing Flushing HS.

“The previous decision to implement the transformation model at the school was predicated on some positive trends in student graduation rates,” said the DOE. “However, Flushing’s metrics declined during the 2010-11 school year and based on this most recent data, the DOE believes that students at Flushing would be better served by implementation of a more intensive intervention.”

Flushing will be better served by a department that understands the challenges faced by this school and is willing to listen to teachers and the community. Put the money that the DOE will spend on each “intervention” back into struggling schools.

We are embarrassed by the way the DOE is treating teachers at the targeted schools. Each teacher must reapply for his or her job and it is estimated that less than half of the teachers will be rehired.

The city is blaming the teachers for the failure of the DOE to make certain schools are properly equipped and supervised.

There is no evidence Bloomberg’s plan will work. If the schools are failing, find out what’s wrong and what can be done better. Change the leadership if necessary, but don’t close schools.

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