Saturday, April 16, 2011

Powerful play blasting DOE's school closure policies

Check out the performance of the play "Declassified: Struggle for Existence (We Used to Eat Lunch Together)" at the off-Broadway Abingdon Theater in NYC. The play was written and performed by students at Queens Collegiate and Jamaica High Schools, directed by Brian Pickett of Queensborough Community College.

Jamaica is now slated for closure by the NYC Department of Education, while Queens Collegiate is a newer, better-funded small school with a more selective admissions process, that offers more opportunities for students and has taken space in the Jamaica building.

The play, initially banned by the schools' principals because it was too critical of the DOE's decision to close Jamaica, is a powerful critique of the current direction of education reform in NYC and the nation as a whole, in which those making policies for our schools have decided that the best way to improve them is to close them down.

It also points out the huge inequities involved in the small schools initiative, which provides students in the small schools with more space, better equipment, more textbooks and smaller classes than students in the large schools, who were deprived of these conditions in the first place, and are subjected to even worse conditions while their schools are phased out.

Also see this excellent report by the Urban Youth Collaborative, with evidence of the challenges the schools slated for closure face, overwhelmed with high-needs students that the new small schools did not enroll, and yet given no support for their efforts to improve. The report also reveals the spike in dropout and discharge rates as these schools phase out.

The performance is followed by a discussion with the audience.

Jamaica HS- Declassified: Struggle for Existence (We Used to Eat Lunch Together) from Grassroots Education Movement on Vimeo.

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