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Bushwick Community High School
May 25, 2012
Bushwick Community's High School's fight against closure
http://youtu.be/gS-mTBARu1g The battle to save Bushwick Community High School from closure began even before Mayor Bloomberg first announced plans to "turnaround" nearly three dozen schools in January.
April 26, 2012
City withdraws "turnaround" plans at two high-profile high schools
Students crowded the auditorium at a public hearing last week at Bushwick Community High School. When the Panel for Educational Policy meets tonight to consider dozens of proposals for school “turnaround,” two high schools with a host of a heavyweight supporters won’t be on the agenda. Bushwick Community High School and Grover Cleveland High School were among 26 schools that the department had proposed to close and reopen — with new names and new teachers — in an attempt to win federal school reform funds. Department officials had said the schools needed radical interventions to help them improve. But today the officials said they had determined after listening to public comment and reviewing performance data that Bushwick and Cleveland didn’t need major changes after all. The schools “have demonstrated an ability to continue their improvements without the more comprehensive actions that are clearly needed at 24 other schools," said Chancellor Dennis Walcott in a statement. The about-face comes weeks after the department yanked seven top-rated schools from the turnaround list and just hours before the panel’s scheduled vote. It also comes after the schools received intense political and community support and, in the case of Bushwick, media attention.
April 25, 2012
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.
April 19, 2012
Top DOE official endorses a "turnaround" transfer high school
http://youtu.be/uAM5MyHmko8 At most of the public hearings about the city’s plans to “turn around” dozens of struggling schools, Department of Education representatives have insisted that closing and reopening the schools with new principals and teachers would be in students’ best interest. That was not the case at Bushwick Community High School Wednesday night. After hearing dozens of students deliver emotional speeches in defense of the transfer high school, the department’s second-in-command offered a testimonial of his own. “This is a school that looks at the whole child. This is a school that gives students second chances. It’s a place of redemption. It’s a family. It saves lives,” said Shael Polakow-Suransky, the department’s chief academic officer. “I was moved by what you said tonight,” he said. “I’ve been to a lot of public hearings and I think it’s a tribute to the educators in this community that students here speak with such passion, with such eloquence, and so thoughtfully about what works.”
April 16, 2012
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.
April 11, 2012
Spring break is no time to rest for protesting transfer school
Credit: Jesus Gonzalez New York City schools are closed this week, but that didn't stop students and teachers from showing up at their transfer school in Bushwick this afternoon. The group was joined by U.S. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez to protest the planned closure of Bushwick Community High School, a school they say was unfairly dragged into the city's newest effort to reform low-rated schools. BCHS landed on the state's persistently lowest-achieving list because just 25 percent of its students graduate within six years, but supporters say graduation rates are a misguided way to measure the school's performance. The school exclusively enrolls students who have already dropped out of traditional high schools and spent long stints out of the school system. Since many of the students who enroll at BCHS are 17 or older, they are rarely in a position to graduate within six years of entering high school. Today's protest was not the first display of opposition that the school has mounted. In January, teachers at the school sent a letter to Mayor Bloomberg asking that he remove BCHS from his list of planned closures. BCHS’s placement on the PLA list is the illogical conclusion of a crude, one-size-fits all accountability system. As a transfer school, BCHS is designed to be part of the solution for struggling students in the city, but the current accountability metrics punish us for working with our students while allowing the source of their failures to go undetected.
March 13, 2012
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.
January 26, 2012
At turnaround schools, wide range in college readiness rates
Click on the chart for an expanded view. A handful of the high schools the city wants to "turn around" are already doing a better-than-average job at preparing students for college.
January 24, 2012
Citing NCLB changes, transfer school seeks overhaul exemption
A transfer school that the city is planning to close is desperately trying to escape an accountability dragnet planted by No Child Left Behind. Its plight could reshape how other transfer schools are assessed under a new accountability system the state is working to devise. Bushwick Community High School is one of 33 schools that Mayor Bloomberg has said he wants to shut down and reopen after replacing half of the teachers. It landed on the list after its low graduation rate triggered penalties under city, state, and federal accountability systems. BCHS teachers say the school is being penalized because it enrolls only students who have been unsuccessful in other high schools, making it unlikely for them to graduate on time. This week, the staff submitted a letter to Bloomberg arguing that he should remove BCHS from the list schools that the city is planning to “turn around.” "BCHS’s placement on the PLA list is the illogical conclusion of a crude, one-size-fits all accountability system,” they wrote. “As a transfer school, BCHS is designed to be part of the solution for struggling students in the city, but the current accountability metrics punish us for working with our students while allowing the source of their failures to go undetected.” It’s a position that state officials support and are even trying to turn into policy.
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