A “Last Chance” Bushwick School Could End Up A Casualty To Mayor Bloomberg’s Education Plan

04/25/2012 9:46 AM |

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On Monday, the New York Times’ Michael Powell published an impassioned plea to save Bushwick Community High School, whose existence will be decided by city officials come Thursday.

Bushwick Community High isn’t your average grade school institution—it’s a transfer school that recruits 17-18 year-olds who don’t have enough credits to earn a basic Regents high school diploma, then works with them (some for years) until they do. The pace of the school’s graduation rates isn’t spectacular (“A majority of the students fail to graduate within six years, which is one of the city’s inviolate metrics,” Powell writes), and so the Education Department has recommended that the mayor’s Panel for Education Policy vote to lay off the principal and half the staff. But Powell brings up a second point, one perhaps more powerful than the numbers game—that for many, the school has been a life-changing force, and sometimes, the only option left.

“[The Panel for Education Policy] make the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles look like independence-minded bleeding hearts,” Powell wrote.

In January, Mayor Bloomberg gave a state of the city speech in which he outlined a plan to shut down 25 larger, poorly performing schools this year, and replace them with 100 smaller schools in the next two years.

According to Bushwick Community’s latest published quality review, “the school embraces some of the city’s most over-aged and under-credited students,” then teams up with community organizations to support the needs of individual students and provide preparation for post-graduation life. But despite the fact that in 2010 Bushwick Community was labeled as “Persistently Lowest Achieving” by the Education Department, Powell’s testimony from a recent school gathering illustrates an institution that’s invaluable to its students.

I was 18 years old with a baby and three high school credits. I was a gangbanger. I was shot and left for dead.

My life was a pane of glass fractured into a thousand shards.

And this place saved me. [NYTimes]

It is, however, unlikely that come Thursday the panel will vote to leave the school as it is. Each time education officials have recommended closing a school, the panel’s vote has followed through.