The New York City Department of Education decided a few years ago that Jamaica High School, with its grand building and long history, deserved to die. Its test scores were too low. There was no point in trying to figure out why or to offer help. And so the DOE announced that Jamaica was a failing school. Parents began to withdraw their children or to select other high schools. Enrollment fell. Many faculty, remembering better times, held on. The city was determined to close the school and replace it with small high schools and charters. It is very desirable space in the borough of Queens.
A state report was recently released that documents how a school is swiftly put to death. First, declare it to be a failing schools. Then take away the programs that attract and develop good students. In time, no one will be left who cares about what once was the school, because the school that everyone once knew is dead, even if a few classes remain.
With the heart cut out of the school, it is comforting to learn from the state report that the school continues to “use data to drive and improve instructional outcomes.”
This is the key section in the state report:
· The following findings are based on information ascertained from various stakeholders including parents, teachers, students, administrators as well as school and district documents:
o No honors or advance placement classes are offered to students o The school no longer offers calculus, chemistry or physics
o Only three electives are offered to students: Law, Accounting and
Latin American Literature. Prior to the implementation of the phase out model, elective courses offered to students were: African American Literature, Film, Geography, Forensics, Sociology, Psychology, Computer classes (Word, Excel, visual basic, PowerPoint) and Creative Writing
o Offtrack classes, which were offered to students not meeting Regents requirements, are no longer available
o Students are not able to complete specialty programs: Business, Computer Science, Engineering and Finance Institutes, or Art Institutes
o Students are not offered SAT prep courses
o Two teachers, who are not certified in special education, are
teaching students with disabilities.
· The school uses data to drive and improve instructional outcomes.
A comment by Long Island principal Carol Burris, who has written for this blog:
MY AP worked there. They started bringing over the counter registration kids into the schools, including those recently released from incarceration and still wearing restraining leg chains on their ankles.