Friday, September 10, 2010

The story of Maxwell HS should be a canary in the mines of what’s to come for the rest of the city – Seung Ok on Fighting Closure: A Report from William H. Maxwell HS (CTE):

Seung is one of the founding members of the Grassroots Education Movement (GEMNYC). He put a lot of effort into trying to organize the school last year, reaching out to parents and students. Seung, a 12 year teacher, was excessed from Maxwell last week.

Fighting Closure: A Report from William H. Maxwell HS  (CTE)

      The legacy of Mayor Bloomberg and his reforms on education may very well be a footnote vilifying the extent of damage impacted on a generation of students in New York City.  The story of Maxwell HS should be a canary in the mines of what’s to come for the rest of the city. Situated in East New York, Brooklyn - arguably one of the most difficult neighborhoods to learn and teach in – the school proudly ran vocational programs that actually placed students in viable careers.

      The students in the optics program ran a free eyeglass clinic for all the students and staff in the building.  Anyone who needed to replace their glasses came with their prescription or old frame. The students measured the lenses, cut new lenses, fitted them into new frames – and instead of paying 200 dollars, one received a new pair of glasses free of charge.  Not only were students learning a valuable professional skill, but they were helping those in a community who may desperately need a new pair of glasses.

      The students in the cosmetology program were not the most academically minded.  If you remember the musical Grease, beauty school may not attract the next generation of Nobel peace prize winners.  But that program was doing something that very few schools can claim – keeping struggling kids interested and motivated to come to school.  The attendance of cosmetology students were among the highest at Maxwell.  These same students that might otherwise shun a high school degree, could be seen hard at work in the barbering and nail technology labs.  They would attend academic classes with their mannequin heads in hand and struggle through tough courses so they could continue what they loved to do.

     Our health care students boasted of having the New York State president of the Health Occupations Students of America – a national student organization. Through internships in hospitals and instruction under a practicing physical therapist – our students have enrolled in medical and nursing programs throughout New York.

    Just as in the case of Jamaica High School, all these programs are being abandoned by Mayor Bloomberg.  Since our freshmen enrollment is down to 60 students – 30 teachers had to be excessed.  At one point there were 300 students slated for our school, until the city violated the spirit of the judge’s ruling and sent out reselection letters to these students “in case” the city won the appeal.  Our excessed cosmetology teacher is being replaced with a wood shop teacher from another school.  There are not enough vision students to keep up the program.  What was once a legitimate career alternative and stepping stone to college is now on the brink of vanishing.

    Ironically, the mantra always touted by the mayor’s DOE is, “putting children first”.  By not hearing the pleas of the students, parents and teachers in these “failing schools”, the mayor is putting his ego first.  He has said as much in his radio program – where he denigrated the desires of parents to keep these schools open.  The  mayor’s seems intent on breaking the teacher’s union, and if that means putting the 1 million plus students in harms way, disenfranchising parents and their voices, and vilifying thousands of dedicated teachers – so be it.  If the reformers win, it will be a pyrrhic victory – and history will show, there were will be very few winners to show for it.


  1. This is a case of academic neglect committed by (ironically enough) the DOE. Cosmetology students were NEVER the most academic kids (girls only back in my day..)!!! That's because cosmetology was far more interesting than solving a quadratic/linear system of equations, and still is for many. There are far too many kids headed for "college" where they will flounder,struggle and fail. The "everybody is meant for college" philosophy is a sham; the system is set up for the colleges, both public and private. They make tuition money whether students fail or pass. Bloomberg is destroying young lives. He is turning off a light which each one of those students must have seen that illuminated the end of a tunnel of poverty and want. May Bloomberg and his educational storm troopers all rot in hell for destroying democracy from the ground up.

  2. What a sad story. Sadly, I'm not even remotely surprised.

  3. This exposes the public relations strategy of the UFT under Mulgrew:
    at the hearing to close the school, the DOE Brooklyn Superintendent told the crowd that it was the "first time" he heard there were problems at the school.
    "We have failed you," he said. A 15 year old student got up and said: "If you failed, then why were we being punished by having to take our exams over again?"
    Mulgrew, in his private deal with Bloomberg, filed a stupid lawsuit which only delayed the closings because of a technical foul up, which will soon be corrected.
    Mulgrew doesn't give a good god damn about those black and Latino kids- he is the phoniest of phonies. What is the ultimate payoff for slugs like Mulgrew who can hardly spell?
    and why did Randi leave this mope in charge?
    Bring back Al Shanker!

  4. How about if a Federal lawsuit, rather than an Article 78 in State court, were brought?

    There must be some Federal constitutional rights that are being violated, no?

  5. This story is painful. Diversity in classes and career interests is just what many of the kids need. Instead of offering these classes in high school, it's test prep, graduate, then pay for this type of career training with your own money, kids. When you graduate and serve our purposes, we don't care what happens to you.

    Bloomberg, Klein, Mulgrew, and the UFT leadership collaborators should be ashamed...yet backroom deals and payoffs tend to ease the guilt.

  6. Sad story. This story will repeat itself over and over.

    Bill Gates wants teachers' unions broken and BloomKlein are executing the plan.


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