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wadleigh secondary school for the performing arts
August 6, 2018
After sparing Harlem’s storied Wadleigh middle school from closure, Richard Carranza shakes up its leadership
“We didn’t think expectations were set high enough, and without expectations being set, it was mediocrity.”
April 23, 2018
Wadleigh middle school is safe — for now — after Harlem community rallied to stop its closure
The education department pulled its proposal to cut Wadleigh’s middle school grades, but will begin laying the groundwork to combine middle schools in the building.
October 2, 2012
High schools that dodged closure try to woo new students at fair
A Long Island City High School student takes a break from his booth to meet an umbrella cockatoo from George Washington Carver High School. The white cockatoo perched on a student's shoulder during last weekend's Citywide High School Fair was just one squawking example of the lengths schools go to set themselves apart from eighth-graders' 500 other high school options. But for a small group of schools, those that the Department of Education tried but failed to close, winning the affections of eighth-graders could mean the difference between life and death. The schools were slated for an aggressive overhaul known as "turnaround" until an arbitrator ruled this summer that the process violated the city's contract with the teachers union. Turnaround would have caused the schools to close and reopen with different names, teachers, and programs. The high school of another school, Manhattan's Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing Arts, was never at risk, but its reputation suffered when the city moved to shutter its middle school. All of the schools are under pressure to demonstrate demand by December, when high school applications are due and when the Department of Education announces its annual school closure proposals. The department frequently cites low demand as a major reason for moving to close schools. Many of the ex-turnaround schools already have lower-than-usual enrollment, after last year's tumult, which started in the middle of the high school admissions progress. Many also now have new principals, programs, and organizational problems. Still, the staff and students who spoke to GothamSchools on the second day of the fair said they are putting their best foot forward. Long Island City High School During a brief lull in the fair on Sunday, juniors Arissa Hilario and Wendy Li took a break from waving families over to the Long Island City High School booth to admire Winter, an umbrella cockatoo from George Washington Carver High School making the rounds in the area for Queens schools.
February 28, 2012
For opponents of mayoral control, fight starts with co-locations
District 3 CEC member Noah Gotbaum and Sonya Hampton, a parent from P.S./M.S. 149 and vocal charter school critic, lead chants against co-locations at rally. When the Bloomberg Administration threatened to shut down a school in Assemblyman Keith Wright’s district this year, Wright vowed to create legislation to repeal mayoral control of the schools. The city didn't go through with the closure, but Wright is making good on his word — at least to a degree — by introducing a bill that would chip away at one of the mayor's most controversial powers: the ability to install schools inside other schools' buildings. The bill would require elected parent councils known as Community Education Councils to approve any co-location proposal before it may go into effect. Co-location proposals often generate heated debate within districts, particularly when the city is proposing to move a charter school into a district building. The CECs regularly play a vocal role in opposing charter school co-locations within their district schools, but they have no power to stop them or any other co-location. Instead, the Panel for Educational Policy, which has never rejected a city proposal, must approve co-locations. Parents, politicians, advocacy groups and representatives of at least three CECs rallied infront of Department of Education headquarters this morning to show their support for Wright's bill, saying they hope it will pass because the CECs already must vote on zone lines within their districts. Co-locations were the only subject of today's rally; but according to Noah Gotbaum, a member of CEC for District 3, the CECs are hoping the co-location bill will be the first step toward legislation restricting the city's ability to close schools, and eventually leading to the outright end of mayoral control.
February 8, 2012
City reverses plans to close Wadleigh middle school, KAPPA VII
Two schools that had faced closure votes this week are being taken off the chopping block. The Department of Education said today it would no longer seek to close the middle grades of Wadleigh Secondary School of Performing and Visual Arts or the KAPPA VII middle school in Brooklyn. Teachers reported getting the news at the end of the day today, one day before the citywide school board was set to vote on the closure proposals. Chancellor Dennis Walcott said the department had made the decision after listening to community input at public meetings and behind the scenes. "While these two schools continue to struggle, what we learned is that they are also poised to quickly improve," he said in a statement. But supporters of the schools, particularly Wadleigh, said the city's statement was a smokescreen and said they would still travel to Thursday's Panel for Educational Policy meeting in Brooklyn to protest closure votes for 23 other schools. The real reason for the unusual reversal, they said, was that influential politicians in Harlem had sprung to Wadleigh's aid — and threatened the Bloomberg administration in the process.
February 2, 2012
As closure vote nears, Wadleigh principal announces departure
A second principal of a school the city has targeted for poor performance has announced her departure. Herma Hall is leaving Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing and Visual Arts after three years as its principal. The school's UFT chapter leader, Anthony Klug, and Noah Gotbaum, a member of the district's elected parent council, said teachers learned of Hall's departure this afternoon. Hall announced this afternoon that she would leave the school next week, just as the citywide school board, the Panel for Educational Policy, is set to vote on the city's proposal to shut Wadleigh's middle school. The Department of Education declined to comment on her departure. The principal of another school up for closure, Jane Addams Career and Technical Education High School, was removed last week and demoted to being an assistant principal at another school. In that case, Sharron Smalls was under investigation for awarding students credits they had not earned. Smalls was reassigned to an assistant principal position at the Holcombe Rucker School of Community Research, a small high school in Morrisania, according to Marge Feinberg, a department spokeswoman. Hall's departure is notable because only Wadleigh's middle grades are up for closure. Hall is also the principal of the high school, which city officials have promised would not be affected by the proposed changes. On the auditorium stage at Wadleigh's six hour-long closure hearing last week, students defended Hall and her faculty for creating a family-like environment at Wadleigh.
January 27, 2012
City plan to shrink Wadleigh draws vocal and official opposition
Ninth-grader Geronimo Miranda joins sixth-graders Ariyelle Ceasar, Tiane Jackson, Cheyanne Young and Nia Manerville in describing Wadleigh Middle School's positive qualities at a school truncation hearing Jan. 26. A who's who of elected officials and Harlem leaders turned out Thursday to defend the Wadleigh Secondary School of Performing Arts against the Department of Education's plan to close its middle school. About 200 parents, students, activists, and staff packed the school's auditorium Thursday evening for a public hearing on the proposal. Just before, officials who included City Councilman Robert Jackson, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, State Sen. Bill Perkins, and Comptroller John Liu all held court in the packed lobby of the Harlem campus. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and the city's NAACP chief, Hazel Dukes, also spoke at the hearing. They said the city was giving up on a neighborhood institution by moving to close Wadleigh's middle school. Jackson promised to call Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Dennis Walcott today to air his opposition to the plan. Wadleigh's 440-student high school would remain open under the plan, as would another middle school in the building, Frederick Douglass Academy II, which narrowly escaped closure this year after earning an even lower progress report score than Wadleigh's middle school. A charter school, Harlem Success Academy I, is set to move its middle school grades into the building, according to a plan the city set last year.
January 25, 2012
Plan to close an arts school seen as cutting off a unique option
If the Department of Education goes through with its plan to close Manhattan Theatre Lab High School, the city will lose a rare option for students who want a rich arts education but lack previous training, members of the school community argued at a public hearing about the closure plan Tuesday night. Manhattan Theatre Lab students performing during a talent show that preceded its closure hearing Manhattan Theatre Lab, an eight-year-old high school on the Martin Luther King Campus, has a lower-than-average graduation rate, a failing grade on its most recent city report card, and serious academic shortcomings. And while most students defended the school at the hearing, three seniors who testified said Principal Evelyn Collins had not given sufficient attention to the school’s lackluster academics. Collins took over in 2006 after a tumultuous period that included the midyear resignation of the school’s founding principal, the education director of a local theater company. But Manhattan Theatre Lab also has a rich arts curriculum in drama, dance, vocal music, and set design — and it does not require auditions to be accepted. That sets the school apart from other arts schools, including the elite LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, located across the street. Many students told GothamSchools they had auditioned for LaGuardia or other selective schools but were not accepted. They said they had felt unprepared next to other eighth-graders from around the city who had been fine-tuning their craft through private training since an early age. Manhattan Theatre Lab’s open-door policy has attracted a student body that is 96 percent black and Hispanic, at least two-thirds free lunch-eligible. About 10 percent of students require special education services. At LaGuardia, nearly 70 percent of students are white or Asian, and less than 1 percent of students have special needs.
January 23, 2012
Week's school closure hearings include at least one talent show
A performing arts school that the city wants to close has put together a highlights reel to make the case for staying open. Manhattan Theatre Lab High School uploaded a 20-minute video called "We Are More Than Data" to YouTube late last week. The video contains clips from inspired student performances meant to capture qualities that the school's 46 percent graduation rate and rock-bottom progress report score do not. It also includes interviews with several students. In the video, Keyana Griffin says she knows other students in her East Harlem neighborhood could benefit from the confidence-booster of participating in the school's arts programs.
December 9, 2011
Ten more struggling schools proposed for closure or truncation
The Department of Education has named seven more schools it intends to close and three more schools where it aims to lop off middle school grades. The 10 schools named today join 15 whose proposed closures or truncations were announced yesterday. The new additions to the closure list include three long-troubled high schools; two middle schools started under the Bloomberg administration; and the middle school grades of Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing Arts, where scholar Cornel West last week pledged to fight any closure plans. Under the proposals, Manhattan's century-old Washington Irving High School, which the DOE had shrunk in recent years, will stop accepting new students and will close its doors in 2015. So will Grace Dodge Career and Technical Education High School, where students recently complained that they had been left without teachers in some classes. And Samuel Gompers Career and Technical Education High School in the Bronx, where students had been sounding the alarm about the school's status for years, will also close. Both Washington Irving and Grace Dodge are in their first year of federally funded "transformation," an improvement strategy reserved for the most struggling schools. Department officials said that the schools chosen to replace Washington Irving and Grace Dodge would get their federal funds in an arrangement that the city used to support 16 new schools this year.
December 5, 2011
Cornel West: 'I intend to fight' for Harlem school that could close
http://youtu.be/wmpBJtuq09U Students at a Harlem school that could be closed got an unlikely ally today: famed philosopher Cornel West. West spoked to students this morning at Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing Arts as part of librarian Paul McIntosh's long-running speaker series meant to inspire students to stay on the right track. Wadleigh and another school in the building, Frederick Douglass Academy II, are on the Department of Education's shortlist of schools whose performance is so weak that they could be closed. "I think it's unfair and unjust and I intend to fight to make sure the school's history and legacy is preserved," West said after the speech. "We're not going to allow this to happen."
December 1, 2011
Librarian recruits Cornel West to Harlem school that could close
McIntosh with Muriel Petioni after she spoke at Wadleigh about being one of the first black, female doctors in America A dogged school librarian who runs a speaker series at his struggling Harlem school has recruited the provocative scholar Cornel West to be his next guest. On Monday, West will visit Wadleigh Secondary School for The Performing and Visual Arts, which is on the city's shortlist of schools that could be closed this year, as part of a series of initiatives led by the school's longtime librarian, Paul McIntosh. Over the years, McIntosh has been a bright spot amid Wadleigh's challenges, maintaining a welcoming library that is a haven for students and attracting a diverse roster of luminaries to speak. Past visitors have included Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard, and local physicians and poets. The aim of the speaker series, McIntosh said, is to expose students to future possibilities and hook them on literature. “We’ve tried to put young men and women in contact with people of substance from a number of disciplines,” McIntosh told me. He noted that many of the students he works with are “on the precipice of bad behavior.” He hopes that by connecting them to a variety of inspiring individuals, they can be redirected. “If they just get a little bit of support they’ll be able to see the light and aim for their higher selves,” he said.
November 16, 2011
As anti-closure rallies expand to high schools, students jump in
A screenshot from the Facebook event advertising a rally to support Juan Morel Campos Secondary School Community meetings at schools that the Department of Education is considering closing have started attracting a new constituency: students. That's because the meetings, which the DOE calls "early engagement conversations," are now being held at high schools. Until this week, all of the meetings had happened at elementary and middle schools, for which the city released a shortlist of potential closures in September. One meeting took place Monday evening at Wadleigh Secondary School for Performing Arts, where some members of the school community are arguing that its progress report data aren't bad enough to warrant closure. Last night, students made the case for keeping Manhattan's High School of Graphic Communications Arts open. And today, students have recruited crowds to defend Juan Morel Campos Secondary School in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Tiffany Munoz, a Juan Morel Campos junior who was student body president last year, said students were alarmed when they heard that the school could close and quickly invited hundreds of current and former students to a Facebook event, "Save Juan Morel Campos Secondary School (I.S. 71) From Being Closed." Tonight, when the school's superintendent meets with community members, 150 students who RSVPed yes plan to let her know that the school is a tight-knit community with a thriving arts and music program where teachers push students to do their very best.
October 25, 2011
Among low-scoring schools, familiar names and dashed hopes
Yesterday's high school progress reports release put 60 schools on existential notice. Fourteen high schools got failing grades, 28 received D's, and another 14 have scored at a C or lower since at least 2009 — making them eligible for closure under Department of Education policy. In the coming weeks, the city will winnow the list of schools to those it considers beyond repair. After officials release a shortlist of schools under consideration for closure, they will hold "early engagement" meetings to find out more about what has gone wrong. City officials said they would look at the schools' Quality Reviews, state evaluations, and past improvement efforts before recommending some for closure. Last month, they said they were considering closure for just 20 of the 128 elementary and middle schools that received low progress report grades. The at-risk high schools are spread over every borough except for Staten Island and include many of the comprehensive high schools that are still open in the Bronx, including DeWitt Clinton High School and Lehman High School, which until recently were considered good options for many students. They also include two of the five small schools on the Erasmus Campus in Brooklyn and two of the three small schools that have long occupied the John Jay High School building in Park Slope. (A fourth school, which is selective, opened at John Jay this year.) They include several of the schools that received "executive principals" who got hefty bonuses to turn conditions around.
February 2, 2011
Seven things you need to know about last night's PEP meeting
Seven takeaways from last night's marathon Panel for Educational Policy meeting, for those who don't have time for 6,000-plus words, minute-to-minute updates, or actually traveling to Brooklyn Tech in the storm: 1. Bloomberg's agenda was unsurprisingly approved: 10 schools will phase out, four new co-locations will occur. But on the panel, opposition now comes from more members than simply the Manhattan and Bronx appointees. Patrick Sullivan, the Manhattan borough president's appointee, is no longer the sole voice of opposition on the panel. And while Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr.'s appointee has been making opposition known for a while now, the other borough representatives are beginning slowly to join. Only mayoral appointees, for instance, voted in favor of proposals that would benefit the Success Charter Network schools run by CEO Eva Moskowitz, a former City Council member and perennial mayoral hopeful. Besides 'no' votes, another manifestation of opposition to Bloomberg came in the form of a skirmish. From 9:53 p.m.: Audience members told Anna that they saw Sullivan push Morales from behind. Then Tino Hernandez, the panel’s chair, and Deputy Chancellor Santiago Taveras got between them and escorted Sullivan back to his seat. Sullivan then told the audience that one of the mayoral appointees on the panel had approached him to "taunt" him, kicking off the clash. He proposed that the panel postpone their votes to another day on account of the bad weather, but this motion failed. When the parents behind Anna saw the tussle begin, they started yelling: “Security! Where is security?” A few security guards did edge onto the stage but then backed away, Anna reports. Sullivan told the Daily News that he was just tapping Morales on the back. 2. Families reached out across the closure aisle, sometimes poetically. From Anna's 9:12 p.m. report: … some MCA [Metropolitan Corporate Academy, slated for closure] kids are rapping about racism and school closure. The charter school kids and parents are clapping the beat.
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