School closures

New York

Jamaica HS union leader says teachers saw closure coming

James Eterno, Jamaica High School's UFT chapter leader. (<em>GothamSchools Flickr</em>) The head of the union chapter at Jamaica High School said teachers there have been expecting the school's closure for years and criticized the city for planning to open new small schools without offering help to the struggling large one. James Eterno, a history teacher at Jamaica for 24 years, said teachers anticipated bad news after the school received a D on its progress report this year. But signs that the 1,500-student high school was in trouble had been apparent for years, he said. In 2007, Jamaica was placed on a citywide list of schools labeled "persistently dangerous," and letters were sent home to students and parents informing them of the designation. Enrollment dropped, Eterno said, and when Jamaica became the last choice of eighth-grade students applying to high schools, a new population of students who were less enthusiastic about school entered the school. (Eterno laid out this story in a community section post about Queens high schools back in September.)  Of the school's roughly 500 ninth grade students, slightly less than half did not apply to the school but were placed there after they moved to Queens, sometimes from other countries and knowing little English, Eterno said. "What [the city] should have done and what they could have done was to give us the funding, let us lower class size, let us have reasonable guidance caseloads and let us see if it works," Eterno said. "Then if it doesn't work, then you can make the case to close us down."
New York

Harlem parents say they want their local schools shut down