Monday, August 24, 2015

The Life and Death of an Urban School: New Yorker With James Eterno comment on Closing of Jamaica High School

James Eterno taught social studies at Jamaica from 1986 until it closed, and was also a representative of the United Federation of Teachers. A trim, voluble man in his fifties, he speaks in a rapid-fire cadence and with precisely the accent you’d expect of someone who’d spent all but two years of his life in Queens. Eterno agrees with Joel Klein’s description of the school’s enrollment during its last decade. “We still had plenty of smart kids, but we had many more higher-needs kids, English-language learners,” he told me. Concentrations of high-needs students place a strain on schools, and, Eterno said, “We didn’t get the support. We were not prepared to deal with the changing population.” The tacit belief that large schools were unreformable meant that Jamaica’s sliding numbers looked to some experts like predictable educational failure; to the faculty, those numbers looked like what happens when a school is asked to educate a challenging
Jelani Cobb on right
population without the necessary tools. (This is what George Vecsey was referring to when he wrote about “cooking the books.”) In the battle over the school’s future, many came to see those changing demographics not as happenstance but as a purposeful way of insuring that the creation of small schools in the building would be a fait accompli.
In a way, the protests over school closure are a bookend to the riots that broke out over busing four decades ago....
I'm sure James said a lot more and will report on the ICE blog. [UPDATE _ so he has:].

Interesting that the only thing James might agree with Joel Klein on is part of the quote. The author is a Jamaica HS grad and provides some excellent background and context.
Is this an examination of school closings policy ala BloomKlein a sign of the worm continuing to turn on ed deform?

The Life and Death of an Urban School

What’s really at stake when a school closes?


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