New York

Bronx students demand support to turn around their school

Students at Samuel Gompers High School in the South Bronx held a protest march today to ask for more support for their struggling school. (Patrick Wall) Students at a South Bronx high school staged a march today to demand that the city seek more federal support to improve their school. The students, who attend Samuel Gompers High School, have a specific improvement model in mind: the "re-start" option that is one of four models districts can follow in order to receive federal school turnaround funding. Gompers is one of nine poorly performing high schools that are eligible for the federal help, but are not part of the city's application for federal turnaround grants. Twenty-two other schools are receiving the grants, and 11 schools are already working with federal grants under the "transformation" improvement model. “Why hasn’t the DOE given the grants to all the schools?” Gompers sophomore Sony Cabral asked at the rally. “They’re setting us up for failure.” The students ended their march, which attracted about two dozen students, at the nearby Banana Kelly High School, one of the schools slated to receive the restart funding. The city chose schools for the restart plan that it felt showed signs of improvement and enough leadership capacity to work with outside organizations to make serious adjustments, said Department of Education spokesperson Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld. “The schools we didn’t choose for restart just did not have the type of leadership and staff in place that we felt could effectively team up with an educational partnership organization,” said Zarin-Rosenfeld. School officials said that the nine schools that are not part of the city's turnaround application will still get some support. The city Department of Education is adding an extra $300,000 to their budgets and offering help from teams in the Children's First networks, which support schools with a range of needs from professional development to budgeting.