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Monday, October 24, 2011

Lynne Winderbaum on the destruction of large Bronx High Schools


Five major high schools in the Bronx received "Fs" today from the DOE; including the last remaining large schools in the borough.  Here is Glenn Tepper's story of the decline of Jane Addams Vocational High School, which was once the second highest performing school in the borough, but which was brought down by the Bloomberg administration's preferential treatment of the new small schools. Below is the account of the foreordained demise of DeWitt Clinton High School, another once excellent school, in the words of Lynne Winderbaum,  former UFT Bronx district leader:

I know you need no reminder of how the relentless march of high school closings in the Bronx have created higher concentrations of need in the remaining schools, setting them up for certain failure under the DOE's ice-cold matrix.
As the sadness of the phasing out of perfect examples of this systemic destruction such as Jamaica and Columbus begins to fade, now we see DeWitt Clinton on the list. Clinton is the last remaining intact comprehensive high school in the Bronx. It has been the last school to serve large populations of categories underserved in the new small high schools such as special education and ELL students. 
The demoralization that comes with this letter grade should be seen by a hard working, dedicated, and competent staff through the lens of a system that is determined to close all large high schools by giving them a disproportionately high-needs proportion of students, comparing them to arbitrary and unfair peer groups, declaring them failures, and creating a formula to justify their decision. 
They should hold their heads high (at least until they are thrown into the ATR pool) for the outcome was foreordained. Clinton has been severely overcrowded by the city's policies and suffered the largest budget cuts in the Bronx. They struggled valiantly to deal with all the city could throw at them while still doing their best to offer quality education and programs.
Clinton has worked diligently to provide services for their students and opportunities that small schools cannot. The principal, Geraldine Ambrosio, is one of the best in the borough. She is experienced, caring, knowledgeable, and guided by a drive to do what is best for her students and her school.  She has fought all the adversity that comes with being the last undivided comprehensive high school but the effort seems to be lost in what has become an inevitability--that all large high schools are in jeopardy. Ambrosio strove to keep a veteran faculty and hired excellent ATR's as the surrounding schools shed teachers. That made her a dinosaur. She will go, Clinton will close, and the story of "What will happen to the children this school served that will not receive the same services in the small schools?" will be written yet again. When they closed Monroe, Morris, Taft, Roosevelt, Evander, Stevenson, Walton, Columbus, and Kennedy, the displaced high needs students could find a home at Clinton. No more.
I know the time will come when the city will regret this--maybe after all of our students are in schools run by corporate board rooms. But right now the march to close all large high schools and ignore the voice of the communities they serve (just watch the faces of the PEP members as they vote on this issue) seems inexorable.
---Lynne Winderbaum

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Closing large schools provides more space to stick in a charter school among the school schools being created. The sad part is we close the school for failure,but never provide information on how we improve the education or discipline for the children in these schools. Maybe we just wish the children will drop out if forced to start over in a new school.

boubou said...

you must be kidding about ambrosio being an excellet principal. she is the worst imaginable.iwas there when she arrived and witnessed her hand in the slow rotting of this once great school. she completely lacked any kind of presence, characteristically walking down hallways as if she was trying to hide behind herself--and be sure that the students felt this. her most significant contribution to the destruction of the school came through her appointment of assistant principals that lacked the experience and knowledge necessary to earn the respect of their respective faculty. this was done time and again to the point of absurdity.the a.p. that she appointed to my dept.had only about 2 years of full-load teaching. and as the most irrefutable piece of evidence that attests to the disqualification of such an appointment, we all knew that this person was actualy incapable fo passing the very regents exam she oversaw, and which represented the largest cohort in the entire school. how on earth can THAT be permitted? Similar circumstances played-out in virtally all other depts. which silently and sometimes not so silently caused the inexcusable destruction of morale especially for veteran teachers who could remember days of stellar instruction support and guidance

Unknown said...

you must be kidding about ambrosio being an excellet principal. she is the worst imaginable.iwas there when she arrived and witnessed her hand in the slow rotting of this once great school. she completely lacked any kind of presence, characteristically walking down hallways as if she was trying to hide behind herself--and be sure that the students felt this. her most significant contribution to the destruction of the school came through her appointment of assistant principals that lacked the experience and knowledge necessary to earn the respect of their respective faculty. this was done time and again to the point of absurdity.the a.p. that she appointed to my dept.had only about 2 years of full-load teaching. and as the most irrefutable piece of evidence that attests to the disqualification of such an appointment, we all knew that this person was actualy incapable fo passing the very regents exam she oversaw, and which represented the largest cohort in the entire school. how on earth can THAT be permitted? Similar circumstances played-out in virtally all other depts. which silently and sometimes not so silently caused the inexcusable destruction of morale especially for veteran teachers who could remember days of stellar instruction support and guidance

Unknown said...

you must be kidding about ambrosio being an excellet principal. she is the worst imaginable.iwas there when she arrived and witnessed her hand in the slow rotting of this once great school. she completely lacked any kind of presence, characteristically walking down hallways as if she was trying to hide behind herself--and be sure that the students felt this. her most significant contribution to the destruction of the school came through her appointment of assistant principals that lacked the experience and knowledge necessary to earn the respect of their respective faculty. this was done time and again to the point of absurdity.the a.p. that she appointed to my dept.had only about 2 years of full-load teaching. and as the most irrefutable piece of evidence that attests to the disqualification of such an appointment, we all knew that this person was actualy incapable fo passing the very regents exam she oversaw, and which represented the largest cohort in the entire school. how on earth can THAT be permitted? Similar circumstances played-out in virtally all other depts. which silently and sometimes not so silently caused the inexcusable destruction of morale especially for veteran teachers who could remember days of stellar instruction support and guidance.

jjman36 said...

if boubou had any courage or integrity they would put their name on their comments. I am a teacher at DWC and agree strongly with Lynne’s comments in general and in particular about our principal. I truly believe that most people don’t understand the how complex the job of principle is at a school the size of DWC. Just read Lynne’s insightful and sincere commentary.

jack israel
Social Studies Teacher
DWC