The New York City Department of Education decided to kill John Dewey High School in Brooklyn a few years ago. John Dewey (ironic name, no?) had long been considered one of the city’s best non-selective high schools.

When the city began creating small schools and closing large schools, it had to find a place to dump low-performing students so that the small schools would appear successful. So John Dewey became a dumping ground for students unwanted by the new small high schools, which the Bloomberg administration treated as the jewel in its crown.

As more students were assigned to Dewey who were far behind their grade level in basic skills or who have special needs, Dewey’s scores began dropping. Soon Dewey was classified as a failing school.

The teachers fought to protect the school, but it was a losing battle. In this article, read how the city has stripped the school of AP courses, electives, foreign languages, etc., and the graduation rate dropped. As the school was picked apart, enrollment fell, and teachers were laid off. This is a death spiral created by the NYC Department of Education. This year’s school opening was marked by scheduling confusion, not only at Dewey, but other so-called “turnaround” schools that are locked in a legal battle over when and if they will get the “turnaround” treatment (meaning, will the staff be fired and the school closed).

It is a war of attrition, and the administration will win.

Next time you hear a story about the “success” of New York City’s small high schools, remember John Dewey High School.