Saturday, March 16, 2013

What does Christine Quinn do about school closings, other than enable more and more school closings ?

Two Queens Schools Set To Shutter

By Luis Gronda

Despite protests from parents and community activists, the Panel for Educational Policy voted on March 11 to approve a plan that would phase-out or co-locate several schools in the City and many in Queens.

The decision means that two Queens schools – and many others throughout the City – will soon no longer exist, while other area schools will have new inhabitants come the new school year.

Two schools based in Cambria Heights - Law, Government and Community Service High School and Business, Computer Applications and Entrepreneurship High School – will be phased out beginning next year.

Other Queens schools that will see changes are Newtown High School in Elmhurst and Flushing High School. Those two will have new schools located in its facilities.

At Monday night’s meeting, parents and teachers shouted and jeered at Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and anyone else representing the Board of Education whenever they spoke.

Explaining why he supports the plan, Walcott said that while it is not an easy decision to make regarding which schools are phased-out, he said that it is one that falls on his shoulders and it will benefit those institutions in the future.

“We understand the anger, the reaction on the part of the parents, teachers and community as far as phasing out an institution that they’re very close to,” Walcott said, as he was met with a loud chorus of boos from the audience.

Before the vote, many people commented on the proposals that urged the PEP to pass a moratorium that would freeze school closures and co-locations until each school that is on one of these lists gets more of an opportunity to comment on what could happen to them.

One of many opposed to the closures was United Federation of Teachers secretary Michael Mendel, who said that the DOE does not care about how the children feel when they want to make changes like the one proposed.

“When the history of education is written for this decade, it’s going to be the black hole of education,” Mendel said. “No administration has hurt children more than you.”

Ultimately, the moratorium was voted down by the panel by a 7-4 vote, which paved the way to approve the co-locations and phase-outs later that meeting.

Dymtro Fedkowskyj, the Queens representative on the panel and one of the co-sponsors of the moratorium, said that he was disappointed that it was voted down, because the schools that the DOE said are failing began to show signs of improvement this year. He added that more time was needed to fix whatever problems those schools had.

He also said that while he knew beforehand that it was an uphill battle to get the resolution passed, they felt that this issue needed attention.

“We needed to bring a spotlight to what our community desires,” Fedkowskyj said.

Reach Reporter Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127 or at

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