The proposed closing and projected restructuring by the New York City Department of Education of Beach Channel High School, Campus Magnet High School and Jamaica High School is a matter of grave concern for many residents of Southeast Queens.
Though lagging graduation rates and other issues are cited as reasons for the proposal the concern is with process, particularly as regards soliciting little community input prior to setting the wheels in motion.
It appears that those with huge stakes in the issue- parents, elected officials, civic organizations, faith-based groups, and, above all, students- were excluded from discussions on such a critical issue.
There are many questions that remain inadequately answered.
What were the exhaustive criteria used?
What will be the impact on students who may not be able to gain admission to the restructured high schools?
Given the termination of student Metro Cards by the MTA what consideration is being given to high costs for families who children will have to travel greater distances to attend high schools?
These and many other unanswered questions strongly suggest serious shortcomings in the decision making process to date.
This is not simply an appeal for recognition of institutional legacies. Yet it is an expression of deep concern about the positive impact that historic high schools have on community identity and education as a shared community value. Few would agree that underachieving schools are a community asset.
Yet all would agree that access to quality public education is a right and the most effective route to more productive and positive lives especially for poor folk of poverty.
Without earnest dialogue with residents of the local communities most affected by shifts in education policy and planning, closing and restructuring these three schools as proposed will not solve the problem of delivery of quality public education in Southeast Queens.
We do not want these schools closed.
Members of the CUCE Board of Directors