columbus high school

New York

An art class at a science high school includes math and poetry

Larry Minetti addresses his high school art class at the Collegiate Institute of Math and Science. It may have math and science in its name, but lately the Collegiate Institute of Math and Science in the Bronx is all about art. Concerned that students weren’t receiving a well-rounded education, Principal Shadia Alverez decided this year to cut back on support staff — she has just one assistant principal when the student body of 650 would often warrant two — and hire Larry Minetti to teach four introductory art classes. Minetti has taught on the Christopher Columbus Educational Campus for 17 years, until recently at Christopher Columbus High School, which is in the process of phasing out. Since starting at CIMS in September, he has already landed his students their first exhibition: On Dec. 6, Minetti and his students will hang as many as 200 pieces of student artwork in State Sen. Jeffrey Klein's office in the Bronx. But Minetti said he wants to teach students more than simply how to use artistic principles to create beautiful works of art. He always wants students to understand the interplay between art and their everyday lives, including in the other subjects they study. GothamSchools spent Thursday morning in Minetti’s class, observing as students applied last week’s still life lesson on their own canvases and then speaking to Minetti about his instructional approach. As when we have chronicled other classes in the past, we’ve included the teacher's commentary in block quotes beneath our observations. 10:08 a.m. Students filed into the art studio, whose walls are hand-painted with inspirational phrases and peppered with student work, and took their seats. In the middle of the room, a still life scene featuring two bottles, a paint can, a lemon, and a green apple was set up against both sides of a wooden board. The whiteboard at the front of the room displayed a hand-drawn replica of the still life scene, with the day’s aim and curriculum objectives written for the students to see.
New York

Closing Schools: Myth and Mystery

A few weeks ago I sat in the library at Christopher Columbus High School and listened to a Department of Education official explain to our confused and upset parents that closing our school would actually benefit their children. The official argued that the school's closure would actually increase students' chances of graduating, rather than damage them. This seemed a counterintuitive idea to me, so I decided to dig into the data. The DOE keeps a wonderful public archive of graduation and dropout data in longitudinal reports. I looked at what happened to students at Bronx high schools Roosevelt and Taft during the years they phased out, and compared them to Columbus and John F. Kennedy along with city averages. Why did I focus on these schools? I began my career as an English as a Second Language for seven years at Kennedy. In 1999 I was invited to become a staff development specialist for the DOE's Office of Bilingual Education (later the Office of English Language Learners) and for two years I visited Roosevelt every Tuesday and Taft every Wednesday to support their bilingual and ESL teachers. Then in 2002 I moved to Columbus, where I've worked as teacher and UFT Teacher Center staff. Looking at these four schools provided me a glimpse into the sad unraveling of the places I spent my career. First, I took a look at the 7-year longitudinal studies — those showing the ultimate outcomes for students who entered Taft and Roosevelt in the last four years the schools admitted students. In both cases, graduation declined for the first couple of years by a small amount, with the final two cohorts doing significantly worse. Roosevelt graduated only 17.6 percent of the students who entered in 2002, and Taft graduated just 29.5 percent of them. These outcomes did not compare favorably with either the citywide average for those years, or schools currently on the chopping block, Columbus and Kennedy. Conversely, I took a look at dropout rates for the same cohorts. Here we see rates in the closing schools rising to the point where, in the final cohort, over 80 percent of the final cohort at Roosevelt dropped out, and over 70 percent of the final cohort at Taft.