The Columbus High School family was dealt a devastating blow last week, when the city Panel for Educational Policy voted to phase out two schools located on the Columbus campus.
Early on Wednesday, January 27 in Brooklyn, the panel voted to phase out 19 schools that have allegedly underperformed, Columbus High School and Global Enterprise Academy among them.
“It’s horrible,” Columbus parent coordinator Patty Bozzelli said. “Columbus has stood here for more than 70 years and produced amazing people as one school, on one campus, with one principal.”
Columbus and Global Enterprise students and teachers participated in a rally at the campus on Thursday, January 7 and another before the Brooklyn vote. They hoped to dissuade the panel.
Many Columbus and Global Enterprise boosters expected the rallies to fail; concerns raised by students and teachers weren’t heard, they contend.
“Everyone suggested that it was a done deal, but I couldn’t accept that,” Christine Rowland, United Federation of Teachers rep at Columbus, said.“We worked tirelessly to change the minds of those on the panel and at the DOE but it seemed like [our arguments] fell on deaf ears.”
According to spokesman Danny Kanner, the DOE seriously considered all feedback and analysis from impacted parents, students and teachers, but ultimately deemed that it was in the best interest of the students to shutter the schools.
“Columbus High School has a four-year graduation rate of 40 percent, and demand for the school is alarmingly low,” Kanner explained. “If only Regents diplomas counted toward graduation, as will be the case in two years, Columbus would have a graduation rate of 18 percent. Global Enterprise High School has demonstrated consistently poor performance since it opened in 2003. The school’s 50.9 percent graduation rate is below the citywide average of 60 percent and even further below the average 75 percent graduation rate among new, small schools.”
Those at Columbus, armed with additional data, disagree. The DOE failed to consider the special needs of the Columbus and Global Enterprise student populations, they contend. Global Enterprise teachers maintained that the school has made progress.
“We are a school with a population other schools won’t accept, kids with disabilities or a language barrier and [the DOE expects] us, in four years or less, to get them college ready, graduate them and put them in society, to meet same standards as kids in top schools,” Bozzelli said. “It’s an impossible thing to do A majority of the kids will now be shipped off to Truman or Lehman. Those schools will become overpopulated and [possibly] fail.”
Students already enrolled in Columbus and Global Enterprise will remain, but no new students will be accepted into either school in the fall. KAPPA International, a high school currently housed on the Roosevelt campus, will move into the building.
“I think DOE has to commit itself to turning schools around,” Councilman Jimmy Vacca said.“If we want accountability then the DOE has to be held accountable when the schools don’t perform. I don’t think dispersing children throughout the system is the answer.”
Reach reporter Amanda Marinaccio at 718 742-3394 or amarinacci
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