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Parents from Schools Targeted for Closure Protest Together at DOE HQ

November 22, 2011

Middle and high schools targeted for closure serve almost entirely low-income Black and Latino families and have lost tens-of-millions to budget cuts over past 3 years. Many schools represented were founded, moved or co-located by Bloomberg Administration; most house large numbers of high-needs students.

Susan Hackshaw, parent from PS 631

For months, hundreds of mostly low-income, Black and Latino parents and students from across the City have separately held rallies outside of their beloved middle and high schools in an effort to stop the Bloomberg Administration’s march to close them.  They have argued that their schools are struggling because of factors beyond the control of the community or the school: massive budget cuts, large concentrations of high-needs students, or a push to re-purpose their school’s building.

Parents and elected officials representing a dozen of these schools rallied together outside Department of Education headquarters in a final push to take their schools off the block before the list of recommended closures is released next month.

Parents Grade to DOE: "F"


The ralliers gave the DOE an “F” for failing to provide struggling schools and schools serving large numbers of high-needs students with the supports they need, citing the State’s own recent rebuke of the Bloomberg Administration’s closing schools policy and the addition of 350 new City schools to its list of schools in need of improvement.  The protesters also pointed to New Yorkers’ general discontent with such administration policies, clearly represented in the recent polling of likely City voters.

The following are summaries of some of the schools represented at the rally:

–  PS 161, Brooklyn. “The Crown” (PS 161) was a top-performing school just two years ago, with nearly all of its students passing the state’s ELA exam.  But the City then cut more than $700,000 and nine educators and other staff members, sending scores into a tailspin.

–  MS 587, Brooklyn.  The “Middle School for the Arts” (MS 587) was founded under Bloomberg to replace the “Mahalia Jackson” school (IS 391), which was closed in 2006 under the mayor’s phase out policy for struggling schools.  Just five years later, 587 continues to struggle without the resources to better-serve its high-needs student population—and the City is targeting the school for closure yet again.

PS 137, Manhattan.  Just five years after DOE made a controversial decision to move PS 137 in with PS 134 so that its former building could house the Shuang Wen Academy, 137’s letter grade dropped from an “A” to an “F”.  The school has also experienced significant budget cuts despite a DOE pledge to increase support to assist with the move.

–  IS 71, Brooklyn.  Juan Morel Campos (IS 71) middle school was given an excellent performance report just three years ago.  Since then, the school has experienced more than $1 million in budget cuts and seen its percentages of special education, homeless and English Language Leaner (ELL) students all reach about double the citywide averages.

–  Cypress Hills Collegiate Prep, Queens.  CHCP was opened by the Bloomberg Administration, and has graduated just two classes so far—yet has been targeted for closure already after losing nearly $350,000 to City cuts.  The student population graduated at a 58 percent rate over the past two years—just three points below the citywide average.

Demetrius Lawrence, parent from PS 161

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