‘Turnaround’ Bloomberg

The people living in western Queens are rightly angry. Following its unpopular “turnaround” model, the city Department of Education is planning to close Long Island City High School and put another high school with some fancy name in its place.

More than 100 teachers and students and their families attended a rally at the school, at 14-30 Broadway in Astoria, to oppose the closing.

If this were a democracy, there would be a chance the DOE might listen to a crowd that impassioned and large. But this agency does not listen. There is no public support for the turnaround plan and there is no reason to believe it will work.

It is nothing more than a costly public relations stunt designed without any credible effort to get input from the people it will affect.

What Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn’t understand is the role public schools play in the community. Closing the school and reopening it with a new administration will alienate not only the current student body, but alumni.

Like Long Island City HS, the other high schools marked for turnaround also serve communities with a growing immigrant population. They include William Cullen Bryant in Astoria, Newtown in Elmhurst, Grover Cleveland in Ridgewood, Flushing, August Martin in Jamaica, Richmond Hill and John Adams in Ozone Park.

Sam Lazarus, a teacher at Bryant HS, who attended the Long Island City HS rally, said, “This is an attack against education. This is an attack against immigrant populations.”

Devika Seeraj is senior president of the student organization. Next fall she will attend Brown University. Some of her fellow students will be attending New York University.

The teacher’s union is also opposed to the plan.

A letter signed by Queens state Sens. Michael Gianaris, Jose Peralta, Shirley Huntley, Tony Avella, Malcolm Smith, Joseph Addabbo Jr. and Toby Stavisky sent to city Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott urges him to consider less “invasive” alternatives.

Bloomberg has put the chancellor in the unhappy position of either ignoring his boss or ignoring the people he was hired to serve.

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