DOE to close Columbus High School

The Department of Education has released a proposal for the phase-out and replacement of Christopher Columbus High School and Global Enterprise High School.

The DOE released an overview of the plan on Tuesday, December 7, calling the decision to phase out a schools like Columbus and Enterprise “the most difficult decision we make.” Both schools are among six high schools in the Bronx that are being reorganized.

Columbus has a graduation rate that was 47%, below the citywide average of 63%, and the school ranked at the bottom of the 5% of all high schools in the 2009-2010 Progress Report. At Global Enterprise, the graduation rate is 55% and the school was ranked in the bottom 19% of all high schools. DOE officials said they had little choice but to shutter the schools at 925 Astor Avenue. The schools’ seats will remain.

“After many weeks of conversations with school communities and families, and an extensive review of each school’s academic record, we’ve made the difficult decision to propose the phase out and replacement of a select number of schools,” said DOE deputy chancellor Marc Sternberg.“Year after year, even as we provided extra help and support, these schools simply have not gotten the job done for children. These are tough decisions, but we cannot afford to let schools continue to fail students when we know we can do better. We’re now hard at work creating new schools and improving our existing schools, so these communities will have more high-quality choices next year that will serve students better than the schools we’re phasing out.”

Letters will be sent regarding the public hearing in January 2011. The community, will be able to share their thoughts on the phase out proposal with Community Education Council 11, DOE officials, and the school’s leadership team.

“We know there have been issues at Columbus for a long time,” said Councilman Jimmy Vacca, who attended Columbus in the 1970s. “I question closing schools with poor academic performance. The students will go onto other schools, but the underlying issues will still be there.”

Education Reform Now, a non-profit organization dedicated to the notion that every child deserves a high-quality, free public education, called the decision to close the schools the right thing to do if they are under-performing.

“We can’t continue to ask parents to send their children to schools where they won’t learn basic skills or get a diploma,” said the organization’s executive director Joe Williams. “Each of these schools should have been replaced years ago. The DOE should move as quickly as possible to create better options for families in these neighborhoods.”

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