By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
But 24 More City Schools Are History
Updated April 27 to reflect results of Thursday night's Panel for Educational Policy meeting.
After weeks of emotional lobbying, the Department of Education took a Brooklyn high school off the closure list just hours before Thursday night’s Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) meeting, where the closing of 26 public schools was the main order of business.
Bushwick Community High School is a “transfer school” designed for students who do not succeed in traditional schools — and fervent supporters said it was not fair to compare its graduation rate to the average high school. At a recent hearing numerous students praised the school for transforming their lives, and prominent officials, including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, have thrown their support behind the school.
Quinn spokesman Justin Goodman told the educational website Gotham Schools, “The metrics that are being used to close schools shouldn’t apply to transfer schools because they’re a completely different model.”
A school in Queens, Grover Cleveland High School, was also removed from the chopping block.
As expected, the remaining 24 schools on the panel’s agenda are now history, after a six-hour meeting in which the schools were closed in a process known as “turnaround.”
The schools, which mostly serve disadvantaged students, will reopen with new names and different programs, and up to 50 percent new teachers. More than a thousand teachers could lose their positions, but could end up working in other turnaround schools.
Roughly 146 people signed up to comment on the school closings but had little effect on the proceedings, since the majority of PEP members are appointed by Mayor Bloomberg and have never voted against his instructions.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said that the two schools that were spared stood out, but didn’t say when he had discovered this fact. “We have come to believe that two of those schools — Grover Cleveland High School and Bushwick Community High School — have demonstrated an ability to continue their improvements without the more comprehensive actions that are clearly needed at 24 other schools,” he said in a statement.
Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) said in a statement, “Bushwick Community and Grover Cleveland High School are valuable community institutions that help young people, who have often faced difficult circumstances, attain academic success. News that they are no longer in danger of being closed is a great development for our entire city. We must continue working to ensure all students in New York have access to a quality education.”