Today’s news:

Lipstick on the DOE Pig

TimesLedger Newspapers

City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced the fancy new names for the high schools in Queens he is closing last week.

In western Queens, Long Island City High School in Astoria is now Global Scholars Academies of Long Island City, William Cullen Bryant HS in Astoria is now the Academy of Humanities and Applied Science at the William Cullen Bryant Campus and Newtown HS in Elmhurst is now the College and Career Academies HS at Newtown Campus.

In other parts of the borough, the new names include the Future Leaders HS at the John Adams Campus in Ozone Park, the School of Opportunities at the August Martin Campus in Jamaica, the 21st Century School of Richmond Hill and the Rupert B. Thomas Academy at the Flushing Campus.

“This is an exciting day for thousands of students and their school communities, turning a page and looking ahead to a fresh start next fall,” Walcott said.

Just about no one other than those who work for the city Department of Education or City Hall is happy about the closings.

Walcott is putting lipstick on a pig.

The sad thing is that throughout his career Walcott has served the people of Queens well and is a popular figure here. Now this debacle may be his legacy.

In the closure, or “turnaround,” model, the schools will be closed at the end of the 2011-12 school year and reopen in September with at least 50 percent new staff and a new name.

What’s the “value” of firing 50 percent of teachers?

Raining on the chancellor’s parade, state Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, an alumna of Bryant HS, said the new names are the least pressing concern in the radical remake of the schools.

“The things that we should be focused on are the teachers that are going to be teaching at these schools and the feeling among students,” she said.

Because of the way its members are being treated in this reorganization, the United Federation of Teachers is taking the city to court. There is a chance the closings will be delayed until after the lame duck mayor leaves office.

That’s something to be excited about.

Then the DOE can put the new names in the recycle bin, apologize to the teachers and get to work on the real problems facing these schools.

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