Sunday, December 13, 2009

Columbus HS Letter to NY State Regents

Dear Team,

Today is a vital day. It is our last chance to reach the Regents prior to their meeting tomorrow. I sent each of them a detailed 18 page report going through our accountability data point by point, but Regent Rosa lead me to think that they may still be reading emails this weekend, therefore lets make sure they are flooded with material. Additionally - please go to the NYSED website and email Commissioner Steiner.

Garnering support from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz is also extremely important - please try to send him an email today also urging him to support our community.
His email address is:

Again - feel free to tailor the letter below - but remember that the focus must be on urging postponement tomorrow.

Finally -check out the comments following the blog - Karen Sherwood put in another outstanding attack.

Here's the form letter...

Dear Regent _____________

(personal intro)

On the eve of the December Board of Regents meeting I am writing once more to urge you, at the very least, to postpone the decision on Christopher Columbus High School. While you have already received a detailed rationale for this, I would like to make one further point.

The way the accountability is structured presumes that a school receives a fairly constant population guided basically by urban geographic and socioeconomic factors that change extremely slowly over time. This is not the case for Columbus - we have received a major influx of the highest needs students that has left AYP and absolute 4 year graduation rates a virtual impossibility. We are not a failing school - although we can and do always strive for improvement - we have many students who graduate over 5, 6, and 7 years. Our most recent 7 year statistics are a graduation rate of 81.5% (NYC average being 72.2%) and our drop out rate was 18.2% (city average 27.8%). Many of our students, and notably our English Language learners who arrive in their junior or senior years with no English take far longer to pass Regents Exams - particularly English.

Our population is mobile and vulnerable and needs to be supported rather than crushed. The DoE plans to replace Columbus with an existing school (KAPPA) from district 10. The students from this school are much lower need than those at Columbus, in fact they are lower need than the prestige programs already housed on the campus. This is one more step in the segregation of students that has been going on for that last 10 or so years - bringing in a large number of high ability students from this existing school in September and having no place for our special needs students and recent immigrants who will then be sent to a more distant large high school.

We believe that our community will reject this move at our January 7 public hearing. Columbus has projects on two sides of the school and we do need to serve a large number of high needs students from our immediate locality.

Please recognize that education is far more than outcome data and that our most vulnerable students who struggle to achieve ARE important, not only to this school community, but to our State. Allow us to go through the process in New York City without circumventing the outcome with a decision as to our future now. Your placement of Columbus on the RTTT application at this time will effectively make you the ones responsible for the de facto banishment of the highest needs children from this neighborhood in the Bronx. It is a mixed neighborhood and deserves services for all of its students.

Your postponement of this decision would allow for a public process around Columbus, and for the community to have a say in its future.


1 comment:

Mynewscorner said...

I am a parent of two NYC high school students, one with a physical disability who has experienced the successes and failures of the NYC BOE and the other who has just been accepted into one of the specialized high schools and has had incredible NYC teachers all his life. One thing I have come to realize is that NYC has been one city to focus all their attention on those students who have the highest potential to succeed while the ones who really need the skills of the best teachers are left to learn on their own. As a parent, I have completely taken control of my children's education and even became the teacher at one point. I believe if more parents get involved and stay involved, we can rebuild the education system here in NYC. However,the economy makes it so that we who are working class/poor cannot stay involved because we have to work two and three jobs to make ends meet.The best way to handle this is to ditch the luxuries(face it, our children are spoiled and lazy) and sacrifice to invest in the future of our children.My parents were immigrants and so we were very poor.