Bushwick Community High School

New York

Last ditch effort to save transfer school involves Speaker Quinn

Council Speaker Christine Quinn at a school event with UFT President Michael Mulgrew and Council member Robert Jackson last year. City Council Speaker and likely 2013 mayoral candidate Christine Quinn is the latest public official to throw her support behind an effort to keep Bushwick Community High School from closing under the city's federally-funded turnaround plans. A Quinn spokesman said today that representatives for her office have been lobbying the Department of Education in the last week to remove the embattled transfer school from the list of 26 schools being voted for closure at tomorrow's Panel for Educational Policy. Like the school's other supporters, Quinn's office got involved because she "believes in the idea of transfer schools," said the spokesman, Justin Goodman. "The metrics that are being used to close schools shouldn't apply to transfer schools because they're a completely different model." Quinn's lobbying efforts against a school slated to close is unusual. A City Council speaker rarely gets involved in individual school closures, leaving those fights up to council members who represent the local district where a school is housed. But Quinn has actually withheld speaking out about High School for Graphic Communications, a Hell's Kitchen school in her district that's also on the chopping block. Traditionally, Quinn has stayed out of fights with the city over its education policies and she has remained especially mum on school closures. Quinn didn't attend a press conference in January where 2013 Democratic candidates decried Bloomberg handling of mayoral control. Instead, a spokesman passed around statement that lauded Bloomberg's small schools movement. Quinn was also absent from a panel last week that discussed alternatives to the city's approach to school closures because she disagreed with a policy paper released by the event's host, Coalition of Educational Justice.
New York

Back to school means back to turnaround hearings and protests

Hearings This Week Monday Alfred E. Smith CTE HS, Bronx August Martin HS, Queens J.H.S. 80, Bronx Tuesday John Dewey HS, Brooklyn Long Island City HS, Queens Newtown HS, Queens Wednesday Bronx HS of Business, Bronx Bushwick Community HS, Brooklyn Flushing HS, Queens Richmond Hill HS, Queens Thursday John Adams HS, Queens M.S. 142 John Philip Sousa, Bronx Debate about the city's controversial plan to "turn around" 26 struggling schools did not pause for spring break, with a legislative hearing and protest focusing on the proposals last week. But the school-based closure hearings, required as part of the turnaround process the city is trying to use, did go on hiatus. Now, after holding 15 hearings in the weeks before the break, the city has a dozen more to race through this week. The turnaround plan will go on trial tonight at August Martin High School, whose principal was replaced the day before the break began. Supporters of Flushing High School, where a hearing will take place on Wednesday, are holding a rally this morning in Queens. Teachers at Brooklyn's John Dewey High School, who were among the first to begin protesting the turnaround plans in January, are planning to turn out en masse at the school's hearing on Tuesday. And supporters of Bushwick Community High School, whose low graduation rate is by design because it serves only students who have fallen behind in other schools, will make yet another attempt to convince Department of Education officials to keep their school open. A full list of the hearings taking place this week is at the right.
New York

Spring break is no time to rest for protesting transfer school

New York

City officials are short on answers at Brooklyn turnaround forum

Wearing red shirts that read "We Believe in John Dewey," a row of teachers from the South Brooklyn high school give a student's testimony a standing ovation. Teachers and students from Brooklyn schools proposed for turnaround brought protest signs and pointed questions to a Monday night meeting with city officials — and left with few concrete answers. As representatives of most Brooklyn schools proposed for turnaround pled their cases in front of city officials tasked with closing an extra 33 schools this year, members of the overflow audience interrupted with shout-outs, standing ovations, and, at one point, sustained chanting of "Free the 33!" School communities have argued against the turnaround plans in tandem before, at an event in Queens and a meeting of the citywide high schools parent group. But this is the first time schools have been invited to testify in front of city officials masterminding the changes. Officials also heard for the first time from schools that have been almost completely silent about the reform plans. Elaine Gorman, the Department of Education official overseeing turnaround, opened the meeting, organized by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, with an overview of the proposals, which would call for each school to replace at least half its staff and to be closed and re-opened with a new name. Then representatives from the 11 Brooklyn turnaround schools were invited to give testimonies about their schools. John Dewey High School teachers, parents, and students reprised their frequent protests by turning out in full-force; at least 100 of them sat in the audience sporting their cheerleading outfits or T-shirts in the school's signature red, and lept into standing ovations each time a Dewey student or teacher spoke. And a half-dozen William Maxwell High School teachers, unhappy that their A grade on the city's annual progress report would not be enough to protect their school from closure, waved poster-sized versions of the report card and the letter A when it was their turn to speak. They were joined by a slightly more subdued group of parents and teachers from Sheepshead Bay High School, the Cobble Hill School for American Studies, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, and a lone middle school student from the School for Global Studies, who spoke about the school's co-location with a charter school.