The following is a joint press release from the offices of City Council Members David Greenfield and Vincent Gentile:
Council Members Greenfield, Gentile and Gonzalez
Thank DOE for Agreeing to Keep FDR High School Open
CMs Had Objected to Closure Plan in Letter to Chancellor
Brooklyn, NY – Council Members David G. Greenfield, Vincent J. Gentile and Sara M. González are pleased that the city Department of Education (DOE) has listened to the Council Members and reversed its decision to close Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School (FDR) as part of its model to turnaround 33 city schools. The DOE announced yesterday that seven schools that received at least a “B” on the city’s school report card such as FDR would not be closed as part of the city’s “turnaround” model, as had been planned.
In a letter to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott last month, the council members stressed the important role the Bensonhurst school plays in providing quality education to south Brooklyn families, including many English Language Learners who are new to the country and city. The letter also noted that FDR has received a “B” rating from the city in each of the past three years and is ranked in the 47thpercentile among all city schools, despite the challenges it faces in educating a diverse student body. In addition, FDR received a College Readiness Index rating of 21.5 percent, which meets the citywide average and greatly outperforms peer schools, and has increased its graduation rate by nine percent in just the past two years.
“We firmly believe that FDR provides a quality education for the children of southern Brooklyn, especially the many immigrant families that populate Midwood, Bensonhurst and the surrounding neighborhoods,” the council members wrote in the March 7 letter to Chancellor Walcott. “Without question, the administration and faculty at FDR have gone above and beyond in their efforts to improve graduation rates and should be commended for its progress instead of being threatened with closure. We urge you to rethink the decision to close FDR after 44 years of serving the community, especially considering the clear gains that have been made there.”
“I’m relieved that the Department of Education and Schools Chancellor reconsidered this misguided decision and will help FDR continue the gains it has made, instead of punishing its administrators and teachers. Everyone agrees that FDR is unique because of the large immigrant population it serves, and the staff should be commended for the progress it has made in recent years – improvement that is reflected in the city’s own ratings. We need to provide FDR and all city schools that have shown gains in recent years the support and guidance needed to build on these successes,” said Greenfield.
“I appreciate Chancellor Walcott’s recognition of the progress made by the dedicated and hard-working administrators, educators, staff and especially the students and their families. It is evident by this decision that when elected officials and community members partner effectively that a successful outcome can be achieved,” said González.
“In the end the Department of Education could offer no explanation as to why it planned to shut down FDR for poor performance after giving them a high grade just last fall. While I wish this situation could have been avoided altogether, I am glad the DOE listened to the people and did the right thing. Closing a school and then reopening it with a new name is not the answer to fixing the education system. We need to take a real good look at the bigger picture and question why so many large, comprehensive high schools were put on the chopping block even after showing significant improvement. The so-called ‘mass-replacement plan’ doesn’t make any sense and ultimately it is the children who suffer. This false alarm could have and should have been avoided,” said Gentile.
City Councilman David Greenfield represents Council District 44, which includes Borough Park, as well as parts of Midwood and Bensonhurst.