Elected officials working to save Flushing High School

Elected officials working to save Flushing High School
By Gina Martinez

Flushing elected officials are showing support for Flushing High School after the state Department of Education revealed the school is still struggling. State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) visited Flushing High School last week and met with Principal Tyee Chin to discussed the school’s performance.

“Our meeting with Principal Chin was productive and informative,” they said in a joint statement.“The work he and Flushing High School staff have done was evident when we walked down the halls and saw how engaged the students were. It is clear the teachers, administrators and Principal Chin are dedicated to improving Flushing High School and providing a quality education to the almost 2,000 students who attend.”

The DOE released progress reports for the state’s 62 struggling schools last week. During the 2015-2016 school year Flushing High School was the only New York City school on the list that failed to make sufficient gains in student academic achievement and other categories outlined by the state. Each school’s “improvement plan” included a minimum of 10 indicators that covered suspension rate, graduation rate and student attendance, among other categories. The DOE said the schools that fail to make improvements have one more year to meet indicators or they face the possibility of being managed by an outside administrator.

On average the struggling schools met 68 percent of their indicators, with 56 of the 62 meeting at least half of their indicators and 38 meeting two-thirds or more of their indicators, according to the DOE. Flushing High School was one of six schools in the state that failed to meet half its indicators.

Kim, Stavisky and Koo said they will be using all available resources to ensure that Flushing High School improves.

“We share a common goal in removing Flushing High School from the list of struggling and persistently struggling schools and restoring community trust in this educational facility,” they said. “Through community partnerships with the Queens Botanical Garden, Flushing Public Library, Flushing Town Hall and other organizations as well as programs, including the College and Career Pathways Center, we must see to it that the oldest public school in the city continues to flourish.”

The newest report from the DOE is nothing new. Flushing High School has been under threat of closing down for several years. Students have underperformed on tests and the school’s current graduation rate is 57 percent. In 2012 the school was one of 24 to be shut down as part of the federal DOE’s turnaround plan. The principal and half of the staff were expected to be replaced. Under the turnaround plan all the teachers had to reapply for their positions. Plans were dropped months later when an arbitrator ruled that the city’s staffing plans violated its contract with the teachers union. Planned changes were reversed, leading students and staff to complain of disorganization and confusion at the beginning of the fall 2012 semester.

The elected officials said they intend on showing as much pride and commitment to Flushing High School as the students and faculty have.

“Many of the students take tremendous pride in their school, attending basketball games, school dances and extracurricular activities,” they said. “We must take the same level of pride in our community high school and provide as much support as needed to the administration, teachers, staff and students of Flushing High School.

“Principal Chin and everyone at Flushing High School are hard at work to create an exceptional educational experience for all. We stand behind him and the students in their efforts.”

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.