Monday, January 04, 2010
Two Community Leaders Get A Grade Of "F" For Buying The DOE Propaganda That Jamaica High School Should Be Closed.
I read with a mixture of amusement and anger as two clueless community leaders thought it was a great idea that Jamaica High School will be closed and be replaced with three smaller schools. The New York Daily News allowed these two apologists for Joel Klein's destructive policy in closing large, traditional high schools to express their ignorance of the DOE's policy to destroy these neighborhood schools and put in small or charter schools that will try to exclude the neediest of the children in their community from these very schools.
To prove why Jamaica High School should be closed down they brought up the poor graduation rate of under 50% and the lack of students who want to go to the school (88). They also claimed that Jamaica High School fared poorly when compared to similar schools. What they fail to understand, or don't want to understand, the reasons behind the poor graduation rate, the lack of student selections, and the alleged comparison with similar schools. It is because of the destructive policy by the DOE that put Jamaica High School in danger of closing in the first place.
First, the poor graduation rate can be attributed to the failed policy of Chancellor Joel Klein who started an irreversible plague by closing down the high schools south of Jamaica High School (August Martin, Springfield Gardens, and Far Rockaway) and dumping many of the "at risk" students that the smaller schools refused to select into the school. It is common knowledge that many of the small schools claim that they do not have the services or resources to educate the ELL and Special Education students and push them to the large traditional schools like Jamaica High School. Furthermore, until recently the DOE allowed these small schools to "cherry pick" their students not only excluding the above mention groups but children that were level 1 with behavioural or attendance issues. It is little wonder that these schools showed an initial jump in the graduation rate. Presently, these schools are still trying their best to encourage level 3 & 4 students with good attendance and little discipline issues to go to their school while discouraging the "at risk" students to select the school due to lack of services for them. In today's edition, the New York Daily News article wrote that the UFT claimed how unfair this is with regard to charter schools. However, let's see what these graduation rates are a decade from now? I suspect they will be no better and maybe worse than the large traditional high schools they replaced since these small schools will be competing with other small schools and charter schools for students and must fill their schools with "warm bodies" or risk being closed down themselves.
Second, the poor leadership of a previous Principal and incompetence of some of his administrators that are no longer at the school resulted in the State wrongly putting the school on their "most dangerous list of schools" . Once placed on this list the school not only lost existing students but labeled it to parents as too dangerous for their children who were considering going there. It did not matter that the school was safe and had quiet hallways and a great learning environment and was taken off the State list a year later. The damage was done and to the outsider Jamaica had a scarlet letter on it. The DOE, rather than correcting a wrong, cut resources, and space at the school and hastened the school's spiral downward.
Finally, these two clueless community leaders said that Jamaica High School, when compared to similar schools, did poorly. Really? Where are these similar schools? Do they have the same population and income distribution as Jamaica High School? Did these schools suffer from a similar brain drain as smaller and charter schools in the area siphoned off these high achieving students. Moreover, and more importantly, were these so called similar schools get their fair share of "at risk" students as nearby large high schools were shut down? I would venture a guess that they do not have the answers to my questions.
It is unfortunate that people who are supposed to be intelligent believe the DOE's fuzzy math, phony report card grades, and a lack of real accountability as the basis of their faulty conclusion that a potentially great school like Jamaica High School should be closed. Had they dug deeper into the numbers I would bet that they would be singing a different tune. However, their failure to explore the closing of Jamaica High School more closely allows the DOE propaganda spin machine to continue and allow a once great school like Jamaica High School to close.