Monday, December 14, 2009

Meet Me at Jamaica

Don't let Klein and Bloomberg knock us down without a fight!

There will be a rally and meeting at Jamaica High School this Wednesday, December 16th. We'll meet in front at 5:30 PM.

Let's show them we are the faces of the UFT, and that we don't want a single teacher placed in the ATR brigade!

In spite of horrible mismanagement and willful neglect by the Department of Education, Jamaica High School is not a failing school!

  • Of 371 students who were slated for graduation in 2009, 256 graduated.
  • The real graduation rate for our seniors would be 69%, not the 46% number that DOE numbers show.
  • New York State did not count 20 of our graduates when calculating our graduation rate which is easily over 50%, using any standard, and not under 50% for years as the DOE claims.
  • Many of our students are Special Education [170] or English Language Learners [259], or Students with Interrupted Formal Education [71], or other non traditional pupils who require more than four years to graduate. If a student is still in attendance at Jamaica or in another accredited program, why should we be held accountable as if they failed? They didn’t fall short. Some only need to pass a Regents exam to graduate. The NYS Regents are moving to a five year graduation rate standard. Could you complete a diploma on time in Italy if you moved there with no prior knowledge of Italian?
  • Jamaica has close to a 100% graduation rate in both the Gateway and Finance Academy programs.
  • 142 of Jamaica’s 2009 graduates received the prestigious Regents Diploma.
  • 35 students graduated with the Advanced Regents Diploma.
  • A number of pupils even graduated with an Advanced Regents Diploma with Honors.
  • The state wrongfully labeled us as a persistently dangerous school in 2007 because we had a zero tolerance discipline policy and we honestly reported even the most minor infractions.
  • The DOE sent a letter to all of our parents telling them we were dangerous and asking them if they want to transfer. When hundreds left, the DOE slashed our budget so we lost virtually all of our young staff and then six months later DOE cut our budget again forcing further staff reductions.
  • DOE never sent a letter to parents telling them that we are no longer a persistently dangerous school yet enrollments are starting to rise again.

Closing Jamaica is the wrong idea!

  • It will worsen overcrowding in already packed neighboring schools who cannot afford to take any more students while four new schools in the Jamaica building grow from nothing. Two are even slated to have grade 6 students in the building giving less opportunity for high school students to use this building. DOE’s impact statement concedes that existing schools will be needed in part to replace the students who would have gone to Jamaica.
  • Portland, Oregon recently abandoned the idea of small high schools. Why does NYC want to keep experimenting with our kids? Even Bill Gates is having reservations about small schools. Comprehensive schools offer a wide ranging experience for students. Kids can easily find their niche.
  • It will cost the Department of Education massive amounts of money for start-up costs and to hire four principals instead of having just one in the building.
  • Jamaica High School has traditionally served a diverse student population. New small high schools are often exclusive, not inclusive. The impact statement says one new school will only accept males.
  • While small schools have their place, new small schools generally do not have room for self contained (most restrictive environment) special education students or English Language Learners or Students with Interrupted Formal Education. Hundreds of students who would have gone to Jamaica would have to go to other schools that do not have the facilities or adequate supports to educate these pupils.
  • A better investment would be to use the start-up money and give it to Jamaica High School so we can provide our students with lower class sizes, reduced guidance caseloads and proper support staff to run a comprehensive high school program correctly.

Make your Voice Heard on December 16 at 5:30 p.m. outside & at 6:00 p.m. inside the Jamaica HS Auditorium.

Email us at or go to savejamaicahighschool on facebook.

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