In the last week, a number of elected officials have lamented the Department of Education's decision not to withdraw the co-location plans at Martin Van Buren High School. Unfortunately, these local elected officials are out-of-sync with the local community on this issue.
Just prior to the mayoral election, civic Leaders from nine of the largest civic associations in eastern Queens representing thousands of families zoned for Martin Van Buren met and voted unanimously with one abstention to support the DOE’s P-Tech co-location proposal for the school.
Decades of failure have transformed Martin Van Buren from a school having deep community roots into one where 96 percent of its student population comes from outside of the local community.
The P-Tech co-location initiative attempts to fast track the turnaround of Van Buren. A successful school turnaround that the local community would support will come only when a safe school environment with local community participation is created, which is what the P-Tech co-location attempts to do.
Local parents of high-school-age students are stressed out by the thought of sending their kids to Van Buren. Local parents and their children simply don’t have the luxury of time for the school to transform.
The Martin Van Buren “brand” is dead and needs to be reinvented for there to be any chance of success. This reinvention begins with P-Tech. Handled properly, the P-Tech co-location will attract a student body from the local community that is more engaged in the educational experience. This will help change the learning environment and dynamics at Van Buren.
Over time, this will boost local enrollment of students as the parental perception of the school changes and the excellent programs being initiated by Principal Sam Sochet take root and become more widely known.
I urge Councilman Mark Weprin, State Senator Tony Avella and Assemblyman David Weprin to rethink their opposition and embrace the P-Tech co-location rather than seeking its demise. Join us in our support of this initiative and help return this failed school to its storied and illustrious past.
Glen Oaks Village