Tag Archives: August Martin High School

Mayoral administration removes Success Academy Jamaica proposal


| mhayes@queenscourier.com


One thousand children need to find somewhere else to go to school come September.

These students had applied to Success Academy Jamaica, a new charter school that had been slated to open this fall, but now Mayor Bill de Blasio has axed the plan.

Before former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s term ended, he approved the co-location of Success Academy Jamaica with August Martin High School. The charter school would hold 200 kindergarten and first grade students and ultimately grow to a 500-student school, kindergarten through fourth grade.

But on Feb. 27, de Blasio withdrew this proposal, along with eight others citywide. Three Success Academy schools were canceled entirely. Success Academy founder Eva Moskowitz led a rally Tuesday in Albany, flanked by thousands of students, teachers and charter school supporters, opposing de Blasio’s decision.

“The previous administration handed over these proposals, and we have had to review all of them under inflexible deadlines,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “As enrollment deadlines approach, we considered the thousands of families that could be affected. Under the circumstances we inherited, [we] believe this is the best approach.”

The Department of Education (DOE) said it does “not believe new elementary schools should be opened on high school campuses.”

“Overall, we have heard concerns from high school communities, as well as elementary level ones, about this practice. We believe high school campuses should serve high school students,” DOE officials said.

Without the school, local youth can attend nearby schools P.S. 233, P.S. 45 and P.S. 354.

“More than 1,000 families have applied so far for a seat at Success Academy Jamaica,” said Kerry Lyon, a spokesperson for the charter school. “We will continue fighting to open this school and give those parents the high quality education they are demanding for their kids.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

DOE withdraws co-location plans


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ File Photo

From the 49 co-location proposals released last year for schools all around the city, the Department of Education (DOE) has announced it will be withdrawing nine and revising one.

Two plans that have now been withdrawn included opening a K-4 Success Academy charter school in August Martin High School in Jamaica and bringing a new Career and Technical Education (CTE) high school to Long Island City High School. The rest of the plans involve schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

“The previous administration handed over these proposals – and we have had to review all of them under inflexible deadlines. While the circumstances for each proposal are unique, we identified clear criteria and we followed it,” Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said. “We were deliberate in our decisions and, under the circumstance we inherited, believe is the best approach.”

In reviewing the proposals, the DOE identified four “core values” that will be used to evaluate co-locations: new elementary schools should not be opened on high school campuses; the new schools must have the resources needed to provide services the students deserve; depending on capital work to make space for the co-location; and seats must not be reduced in District 75, serving special needs students.

The agency also took into consideration deadlines and the impact some of the proposals would have on thousands of families.

“If there is one thing school communities should know, it’s this: we’re going to do things differently,” Fariña said. “Today, we are turning the page on the approach of the past. We are going to listen and be responsive like never before, and that will be reflected in everything we do.”

The Career and Technical Education high school proposed for LIC High School is now planned to be moved to Murry Bergtraum High School in Manhattan.

“This is a win for all of us in the community, but most of all for the students who only want the resources they deserve to receive a proper education,” State Senator Michael Gianaris said about LIC High School.

The DOE plans to host a meeting for each school community of the proposals that will be implemented. The meeting will help discuss next steps and also allow the DOE to engage with parents and school officials.

Councilmember Mark Weprin said that he is disappointed to learn that the DOE still plans on pursuing its plan to co-locate another school at Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village. However, he said he has heard that the DOE will work with the local community to make sure the programs at the school meet the community’s needs.


THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan 

“We want to make Martin Van Buren a destination high school once again,” Weprin said.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Jamaica high school student vying for culinary arts scholarship


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Hipolito Torres

A love for cooking resonated with Hipolito Torres at a young age, he said. Now, at 18, he’s prepping to participate in a culinary arts competition to win a college scholarship.

Torres, a senior at August Martin High School in Jamaica, is heading to New Rochelle for the America’s Best High School Chef (ABHSC) competition, to vie for a full academic scholarship to Monroe College’s world-class culinary arts program.

“I feel very confident,” he said.

Torres, who has taken food preparation classes for about four years now, is one of 50 high school seniors from around the country chosen to show off their culinary skills Saturday at Monroe’s Culinary Arts Center.

Passion plays a key role in the teen’s cooking. Through time and firsthand kitchen experience, Torres said his love for food and its preparation continually grew. He said he likes “strong flavors” and has gravitated toward using earthy, rustic ingredients.

Monroe’s School of Hospitality and Management and the Culinary Arts, in its sixth year, will host the competition for students interested in pursuing a college degree in culinary arts.

“We are delighted to be hosting this competition,” said Frank Constantino, dean of the school of Hospitality Management and the Culinary Arts. “It provides many seniors interested in the culinary field the opportunity to showcase their skills and vie for a prestigious scholarship that will enable them to further cultivate their talent.”

At ABHSC, Torres will first be judged on his knife skills. He will be challenged with different cutting styles and will be judged on his precision. Next, the “salad basket challenge” will task Torres with making a high-end salad with select ingredients. Finally, the competition will be complete after a “mystery basket challenge,” which Torres said will require him to make a chicken dish.

“We have a lot of fun during the competition, and look forward to welcoming the new contestants,” Constantino said.

Torres’ plan of attack is slow and steady.

“I feel like I just need to pace myself and make sure I know what I’m doing and be confident in my food and skills,” he said.

The teen cook has bright hopes for the future. He aims to win the Monroe College scholarship, and then stay in New York and remain in the restaurant field. Ultimately, he plans to open his own city eatery.

“I want to try to gain as much experience as I can, both in skills and all around as a person in the industry,” said Torres.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Majority of Queens schools score well on progress reports


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


The majority of Queens schools scored high on the Department of Education’s (DOE) recently released progress reports.

Out of the 62 Queens high schools that were issued 2012-2013 progress reports, 31 earned As, 16 Bs, 6 Cs, 5 Ds and 4 Fs.

The highest scoring institution was Long Island City’s Academy for Careers in Television and Film, which just moved into a new building at the beginning of this school year. It received an overall score of 100.9.

Flushing High School, Pan American International High School in Elmhurst, Frederick Douglass Academy VI High School in Far Rockaway and August Martin High School in Jamaica earned overall failing grades.

Progress reports were issued for 239 Queens elementary and middle schools. Fifty-eight of them earned As, 97 Bs, 74 Cs, nine Ds and only one, Springfield Gardens’ Community Voices Middle School, failed.

Waterside School for Leadership in Rockaway was the highest ranking Queens middle school, with an overall score of 90.3, and P.S. 203 Oakland Gardens was the top-rated elementary school in the borough, with an overall score of 86.5.

Across the city, the DOE found public school performance “remained consistent, with 87 percent of schools maintaining their grade or moving one grade compared to last year.”

The reports are based on students’ progress, performance, attendance and surveys of parents, students and teachers. High school progress reports also measure college and career readiness.

According to the DOE, more students are graduating from high school ready for college and careers.

The reports found that the four-year college readiness rate is up nearly 3 points since last year.

“The most important job of our schools is ensuring students are on track to succeed in college and their careers,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. “These results are further evidence that the hard work of our teachers and principals is paying off.”

This year’s school progress reports were the last ones issued during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure.

They could see some changes when they are issued under the Bill de Blasio administration.

“While Mayor-elect de Blasio supports making overall school progress reports available to parents, he would eliminate letter grades of schools which offer little real insight to parents and are not a reliable indicator of how schools are actually performing,” his spokesperson Lis Smith said.

To find a specific school’s progress report, visit http://schools.nyc.gov/ProgressReport.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Op-ed: Co-location: What’s the rush?


| oped@queenscourier.com


ASSEMBLYMEMBER DAVID WEPRIN

Late last month the Department of Education’s Panel on Educational Policy voted on all co-location proposals. Martin Van Buren High, I.S. 59, August Martin High School, P.S. 40, J.H.S. 226, M.S. 72 and the Corona Arts and Sciences are the schools facing co-location in Queens.

The Department of Education called off its plans to co-locate a new elementary school in the building of P.S. 1 after parents, teachers and elected official spoke out against the proposal. At the Martin Van Buren High School co-location hearing, State Senator Tony Avella, Councilmember Mark Weprin and I along with the parents, teachers, civic leaders, students and community members urged the Department of Education to hold off on their plans to co-locate a new school in the building. However, the Department of Education has ignored our request to meet with them and is instead pushing through with their proposal.

My biggest question is “what’s the rush?”

One of the first issues that needs to be addressed with the proposed co-location at Martin Van Buren High School is the lack of transparency in the process and the reasons the Department of Education is rushing to put in the second school. It seems the Bloomberg administration is rushing these co-locations before the next administration takes office.

The problem lies in that there is a clear disconnect between the Department of Education and the community. Parents, teachers, community leaders and students have only been consulted after the Department of Education issued its proposals. Parents and community members deserve to be informed and have greater involvement in the school’s decision-making process. I call for a more comprehensive and community-based plan in which all members of the community that are impacted by the change are able to be involved in the school Turnaround process. All of the schools dealing with the issue of co-location need to be thoroughly examined to determine if co-locating the school is the best plan for the school to thrive.

The proposed co-location would eliminate 500 seats at Martin Van Buren High School and create a new six-year school that would give students the option to earn two-year degrees from Queensborough Community College. There is no reason why Martin Van Buren High School can’t have this program integrated into the school’s curriculum.

If not well planned, having an additional school in the building can become a costly project that disrupts student learning and limits access to resources and school facilities. Often when schools undergo co-location, one of the schools receives preferential treatment. The issues that can arise from co-location are overcrowding, unsafe hallways, inadequate resources and tensions over sharing space and equipment with the other school in the building. The schools often have to compete for the use of shared areas such as cafeterias, gyms, auditoriums, playgrounds and hallways. The co-located school will take away essential resources from the traditional school, depriving students of school equipment and other resources.

We have seen far too many schools in experience co-location, resulting in underfunded programs, overcrowding classes, and ultimately a spiral of academic decline. Instead of co-locating struggling schools, let’s first discuss the option with the community and invest our time and resources into turning the school around. Martin Van Buren High School is one of the few community comprehensive high schools that provide real choices, with an exciting curriculum for students and the Queensborough Community College partnership program can be incorporated into the school. The students of our city deserve to be provided the best education possible and parents should have the choice for their child to attend one of the last comprehensive high schools in Queens.

Assemblymember David Weprin was elected in a Special Election in 2010. Weprin represents the same district represented by his father, the late Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin, for 23 years and his brother Mark Weprin, for over 15 years.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens school co-locations approved


| mhayes@queenscourier.com


Kids, make room. Nine borough school co-locations have been approved and are planned to go into effect by the next school year.

For the 2014 to 2015 school year, co-location plans will be executed in Martin Van Buren High School, J.H.S. 226 on Rockaway Boulevard, P.S. 40 in Jamaica, J.H.S. 72 in Jamaica and Long Island City (LIC) High School.

A Success Academy Charter School will additionally move in with August Martin High School and Voyages Prep, and another in I.S. 59 Springfield Gardens.

In the 2015 school year, the Elmhurst Educational Campus will hold five different schools, and the proposed co-location in M.S. 311 will take place in the 2016 school year.

The bundle of co-locations was approved at the Panel for Educational Policy’s (PEP) October meeting.

“True to form, every single proposal was approved by the spineless puppets appointed by Bloomberg,” said Ken Achiron, a teacher at LIC High School and the school’s United Federation of Teachers (UFT) chapter leader. “Not once did they waiver that the ‘King’ could be wrong.”

Even still, the next mayor has the power to reverse the plan, and “there’s a lot of rumbles going on” as to whether that will happen, said Dmytro Fedkowskyj, the PEP Queens rep appointed by the borough president.

The initial co-location plans projected five years ahead and claimed they will keep the school buildings just at full capacity. But Fedkowskyj, who voted against the proposals, said “so many things can happen, who’s to say their projections will be right?”

A Department of Education spokesperson said “across the city” they have “transformed the landscape with our new school options.”

“This will be a new option that will deliver great outcomes for children, and we’re confident it will be in very high demand,” said the spokesperson.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

RFK High School boys soccer upsets August Martin, wins historic match


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Playing mid-field for the Robert F. Kennedy High School boys soccer team just wasn’t working for junior Nariman Hassan.

As a mid-fielder he should be defense minded and looking for opportunities to steal and advance the ball. But a natural striker, in the first half of the September 22 matchup at Francis Lewis High School in Queens Division B soccer, Hassan kept falling in front looking to score instead of pass. He was so hungry that by the start of the second half RFK head coach Ed Ryder decided to place him at the forward position.

“He’s like a bug in the porch light,” Ryder said. “He just wants to go to the goal. So we’re like ‘let’s swap him with one of the guys up top.’”

And Hassan felt right at home after the switch, as he scored two goals to lead the RFK Panthers to upset the undefeated August Martin High School Falcons, 3-1.

Hassan’s second goal, which came with 20 minutes remaining in the game, capped the win. He snuck into the box behind defenders and waited for a pass, then, undefended, he carefully placed the ball past August Martin goalie Mark Tyndale.

“When I got the pass I was like ‘oh this is my chance to shine,’” Hassan said.
Before Hassan’s light shone though, the match was a classic David versus Goliath bout, and Goliath was pounding away.

August Martin (4-1), which entered the game after a 5-0 drudging of Springfield Gardens High School, controlled possession in the first half with hounding defense and aggressive shot taking. It was slightly unorganized, and occasionally earned players a yellow card or warnings, but it was effective.

In the 27th minute, Falcons forward Timothy Frank scored the game’s first goal after beating a defender on the right flank, and blasting a shot from about 15 yards away. RFK (2-2) goalie Michael Singh initially blocked the shot, but the force sent him to the ground and the ball trickled into the goal.

The turning point for the Panthers came in the 45th minute when senior Karimullah Mashriqi tore through a few Falcons defenders on the left sideline and was geared to shoot in the box, but was tripped hard. RFK earned a major penalty kick, which senior Firoze Mehirdel easily buried in the back of the net to tie the match, 1-1.

A few minutes later Hassan came up with his first goal and RFK, the underdogs, took a 2-1 led, shocking August Martin.

“It took the wind out of their sails,” said Falcons coach Dominick Stanco. “They got very complacent and the team just started to give up.”

Hassan’s second goal in the 60th minute completed the biggest win for the RFK program in school history, since the team was just created two years ago.

“We beat Townsend Harris last year as a developmental team, that was the biggest win in the history of the program,” Ryder said. “This one is going to live on for a while.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

16 Queens schools face shutdown by state


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

After seven Queens high schools won a nearly yearlong battle with the city to remain open, the institutions — along with 10 other borough schools — find themselves on a state list of schools that need to shape up or shut down.

New York state education officials unveiled a list of 123 schools in the city that face closure by the 2014 school year if improvements are not made. The list is made of schools in the bottom 5 percent on test scores and graduation rates.

Twenty-two borough schools also made the state’s list of the best in New York.

Six Queens high school were marked for turnaround by the city — which would have closed and reopened the institutions under new names — before a judge overruled the decision. Now, the schools again find themselves on a list that might mean their closure.

“The state’s new system more closely resembles the city’s school Progress Reports by recognizing growth and measuring students’ college and career readiness. This year, 55 schools were recognized for their strong performance and fewer schools were identified as struggling,” Chancellor Dennis Walcott said.  “There is still more work to do, and we will continue to support our struggling schools while holding them accountable to the high standards our students deserve.”

The Queens schools include 12 high schools, three middle schools and an elementary school.

The schools are: Newtown High School, Grover Cleveland High School, Flushing High School, Martin Van Buren High School, Beach Channel High School, August Martin High School, Richmond Hill High School, John Adams High School, Excelsior Prep High School, Jamaica High School, Long Island City High School, William Cullen Bryant High School, M.S. 53, J.H.S. 8, I.S. 192 and P.S. 111.

 

 

Community says changing the name of August Martin HS destroys legacy


| brennison@queenscourier.com


For students and graduates of August Martin High School, the name’s significance far surpasses letters emblazoned on the front of a school building. It exemplifies legacy, tradition and achievement. It represents a man that everyone that walks through the doors can look to as an example of triumph.

In 1971, the school’s named was changed from Woodrow Wilson to August Martin, honoring the country’s first black commercial pilot.

The Jamaica high school currently finds itself is on the list of schools planning to be turned around, meaning the school may close and reopen under a new name.

“If we allow August Martin to be taken off this building, what it does is simply does away with history,” said Ricky Davis, a commercial pilot and teacher of aviation at the school. “It does away with the struggle of our ancestors.”

The predominantly black school is just three miles from John F. Kennedy International Airport and the only school that allows students the opportunity to man an aircraft. Approximately 300 students are enrolled in the aviation program. Every Thursday, Davis takes his class to fly, sometimes solo, allowing students to obtain hours towards a pilot license.

“I would never be in favor of getting rid of the name August Martin,” said Councilmember James Sanders. “I would be very much in favor of keeping tradition; keeping a legacy going.”

Martin, a Tuskegee Airman, was killed in 1968 while delivering goods to Biafra during the Nigerian civil war.

“That name means something, because if it wasn’t for a man like that, guess what, [Chancellor Dennis Walcott] wouldn’t have his job,” said Cleavon Evans August Martin’s Alumni Association president. “You want to take that name and destroy it? How disrespectful to this community.”

A handful of students attended Monday, April 16’s public hearing on the school’s potential closure proudly displaying their pilot stripes earned at the school.

“[The DOE] doesn’t understand that this school is rooted in the community. They don’t understand that [Martin] learned to fly in Tuskegee, they don’t understand that he died bringing goods to children in Biafra,” said Leo Casey, the UFT vice president for high schools. “They think that a name is like a number, that you can just change it. Well, this school has history and this school cannot die.”

Turnaround proposals submitted for eight Queens high schools


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com


Elected officials are refusing to “turn” the other cheek on the city’s plan to overhaul a number of high schools throughout the borough.

The Department of Education (DOE) has submitted proposals to Turnaround eight high schools – Flushing, William Cullen Bryant, Long Island City, Newtown, Grover Cleveland, August Martin, Richmond Hill and John Adams – resulting in the closure of the school at the end of the academic year and its reopening under a different name in the fall of 2012, along with the replacement of 50 percent of the faculty.

In total, 33 schools across the city have been designated for the Turnaround model, but each current student will be guaranteed a seat in their reopened school.

Local leaders, parents and teachers have all expressed outrage over the DOE’s plans, emphasizing the destructive influence this will have on students.

“This is a slap in the face to all of the teachers and students who have been working hard to keep [these schools] on the road towards greatness,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, a graduate of Bryant High School. “I think pulling the plug is the wrong way to go. The students feel pride in their school, and if you close it, you are saying it is a failure. I think that’s the wrong message.”

Van Bramer, who called the city’s tactics “draconian,” also noted that a new principal was installed in Bryant in September, giving the leader less than a year at the school.

Other legislators have argued that politics should be left out of the classroom.

“The DOE should realize this proposal does not factor how such an extreme overhaul of Bryant and L.I.C high schools would affect attending students and how they learn,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “Children’s education should supersede political posturing.”

DOE officials said the city lost significant federal funding when an agreement on teacher evaluations could not be reached with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT).

By deciding to Turnaround the schools – a program which does not require teacher evaluations – the city can apply for up to $60 million in School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding from the state.

“When we did not get an agreement with the UFT by January, we lost out on money from the state,” said DOE spokesperson Frank Thomas. “That’s one of the reasons behind this – we want to try to salvage as much of those funds as possible. We also see this as an opportunity for these schools to get better, improve their culture, improve their school program, improve their staff and become much better schools.”

The DOE’s proposal will be voted on by the Panel for Education Policy (PEP), a committee composed of 13 members assigned by the five borough presidents and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on April 26.

According to Thomas, if the Turnaround proposal is approved by PEP, the department plans to move forward regardless of funding.

“This is being done because of the mayor’s ego, and not because of any inability of the UFT to negotiate,” said Ken Achiron, the UFT chapter leader of L.I.C. “The mayor walked away from the table and refused to negotiate. I think this is a disaster for the children and school system. This mayor is doing more damage than the fiscal crisis of 1975.”

Maria Karaiskos, an English teacher at L.I.C. for 16 years, believes the plan has hurt students and educators alike.

“I think this will severely disrupt the students’ education,” she said. “If the goal is to improve education, this is the worst thing they can do. Teacher morale is low, and it should be clear that Bloomberg is trying to remove teachers.”

Eight high schools to ‘Turnaround’


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

The city’s failure to successfully negotiate with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) may spell doom for more than half a dozen high schools across Queens — including the subtraction of half their educators.

Due to the inability of the two parties to come to an agreement regarding teacher evaluations, the Department of Education (DOE) has moved eight high schools — Flushing, William Cullen Bryant, Long Island City (L.I.C.), Newtown, Grover Cleveland, August Martin, Richmond Hill and John Adams — into the School Improvement Grant Program known as Turnaround.

Turnaround involves the closure and immediate reopening of the school under a different name, along with the replacement of the principal and 50 percent of the teachers. The schools, which are state-designated Persistently Low Achieving (PLA), were initially slated for Transformation or Restart, which do not involve closure and are less severe programs with regards to expulsion of faculty.

“A school’s performance is judged on multiple measures, and when there has been important progress but there is also significant room for improvement, we believe students will benefit from intervention,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. “This is an opportunity to assess and keep what is working and also bring in a new wave of talent that will be able to build on the progress already made.”

As part of the Turnaround program, school-based committees will be formed to assess and replace half the teaching staff based on merit — replacing the least effective teachers and keeping the best. Each school will be reopened by the fall of 2012, and every current student will have a seat in their respective school.

In total, 62 schools from across the five boroughs have been assigned to one of the DOE’s intervention programs.

Of these, 18 schools will be phased out over several years by not accepting any new students and officially closing after current classes graduate.

Five will close at the end of the current school year in June, forcing current students to transfer. Six will lose their middle school grades but stay open as either high schools or elementary schools only, and the remaining 33 schools will close in June and reopen immediately with a different name.

P.S. 215 in Woodmere has been slated for phase-out, and the Peninsula Preparatory Academy, a charter elementary school in Rockaway Park, is also lined up for closure.

Since negotiations between the DOE and UFT failed, the city’s School Improvement Grants (SIG), which are used by 27 of the 33 schools designated for Turnaround, has been suspended by the state. The city, however, is hopeful its actions will once again make it eligible to receive the funds.

“The unfortunate thing is that we see this as the mayor playing politics with our schools, and they are holding these PLA schools and their communities hostage,” said James Vasquez, Queens district representative for the UFT. “The turnaround model has no educational value other than the mayor’s unwillingness to come to an agreement in negotiations. We have been and continue to be open to negotiations.We are not the ones who walked away from the table, they were. In the end, these school communities are the ones who will suffer.”

Vasquez says the city abandoned negotiations roughly 36 hours before the state’s January 1 deadline. He claims the mayor opposes the state’s new holistic evaluation approach — which the UFT supports — and is searching for a scapegoat for the precarious situation in city schools.

Despite the distraction, some teachers are concentrating on their students, attempting to prevent the ambiguous situation from causing a digression in their education.

“A lot of things are in motion and we’re sorting out what it means,” said Debra Lavache, a teacher at Flushing High School. “We’re just focusing on the students. We still have students to teach.”

The majority of students, parents and faculty have expressed tremendous outrage regarding the city’s plans, furious that the students’ education is being placed in the middle of a bureaucratic war.

“We have worked around the clock to try and improve the school,” said Mirit Jakab, an English and Theatre teacher at Grover Cleveland High School. “Many parents and kids are very disappointed. This is tearing our community apart. It is a shame that what seems to be politics is hurting our kids.”

Other teachers believe the Turnaround will do more harm than good.

“I think the city has not given us enough support to implement structural changes that would help the students achieve. It is designed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to fail,” said Maria Karaiskos, an English teacher at L.I.C. High School. “The worst thing you can do is implement this Turnaround model, because what will turn around is the students, and they will go back home. They will turn their backs on education.”

Students at L.I.C. echoed their teacher, emphasizing the lack of excitement and energy most will exhibit while attending the “turned around” school.

“I think this is a terrible idea,” said Amara, a 17-year-old senior. “This is only going to psychologically harm the kids and teachers. Rearranging the system is going to make students get used to a whole new set of teachers. It will drive us away from learning.”

Barbara Loupakis, who graduated from L.I.C. in 1987 and currently has a daughter in 10th grade at the school, believes the Turnaround is the latest example of the city not prioritizing education

“This year things have been going crazy,” Loupakis said. “First there were not enough teachers. A lot that they had were substitutes because they didn’t want to spend money to hire teachers. They have books that are over 20 years old. My daughter brought home a book that my husband had. We don’t have money to give new books and now we are firing teachers? My daughter is not going to want to come back. Because of these changes, these kids are not going to have the spirit and drive to get up in the morning. Bloomberg is sending a message to these kids that they are nothing.”

Queens schools score on DOE progress reports


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Students at The Academy of Finance and Enterprise spend the last two periods of the day participating in a “virtual enterprise,” trading stocks and being the CEO of their own company.

Queens high schools can hang their good report cards on the fridge.

This year, according to the Department of Education’s (DOE) annual high school progress report, 19 high schools in Queens received the coveted “A” letter grade, and there were no failing schools in the borough.

The annual report awards public high schools letter grades from “A” to “F” based on student progress toward graduation, performance on standardized tests and coursework and student attendance. They also take into account surveys from parents, students and teachers about their schools and the academic progress made with students with disabilities.

New this year, the report measures how many students in each high school perform well in advanced courses and go on to enroll in college, as well as the progress and graduation rates of black and Latino male students.

The Academy of Finance and Enterprise in Long Island City scored the highest in the borough with a grade of 89.5 percent. The top scoring grade places the school in the top 98.5 percentile of all surveyed high schools in the city.

“This couldn’t have happened if the teachers, staff and students didn’t come together to make sure they succeed,” said Assistant Principal Victoria Armano. “We are a caring community who treats all our children with respect. We provide them with extra support. We want them to get their diploma and go beyond.”
Student Sylwia Baj is not surprised at her school’s success. The senior said her school has done a good job preparing her for the real world.

“For juniors specifically, the school strives to prepare us for the SATs. There are a lot of extra opportunities for us to get help in school,” she said.
Still, not all schools made the grade.

The Law, Government and Community Service High School in Cambria Heights was the lowest scoring school, with an overall total score of 40.9 percent. The school received a “D” and falls in the bottom 6.7 percentile of city high schools.

“It’s not really surprising,” said Malik, a senior who is transferring out of the school. “I feel like the teachers could work a little bit harder with the kids. I don’t think they show us enough attention. They let us do a lot of other stuff in class instead of work. I’m not coming back.”
Students from Humanities and the Arts High School — who share the same Campus Magnet High School building with students from Law and Government — said the score was expected.

“They don’t do any work. They don’t go to class. They stay in the hallway all the time,” said Malcolm, a senior at Humanities and the Arts. “There are also a lot of fights. It’s pretty obvious that it’s not a good school, and once you go to the school, you find out it’s horrible.”
Officials from the high school declined to comment.

Among the other five schools that received a “D” are Flushing High School, Richmond Hill High School, August Martin High School in Jamaica, Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village and Pan American International High School in Elmhurst.

According to data from the DOE, of the 54 high schools surveyed this year, 16 high schools in Queens earned a “B” and 13 received a “C.”
For more information or to find a specific school’s progress report, visit http://schools.nyc.gov/ProgressReport.