By JAMES FORD
PIX11.com / @jamesfordtv
3:02 AM EDT, November 4, 2011
A new list of academically troubled New York City schools is out, and while parents and students citywide are wondering what their school's fate is, the new list is hitting one neighborhood particularly hard.
The building that houses Wadleigh High School and Frederick Douglass Academy II Middle School in South Harlem has a new, copper roof, recently repointed bricks, and its Neo-Gothic architecture makes it a design landmark. However great it may look on the outside contrasts with some of the academic achievement taking place inside, according to the Department of Education.
"The fact is, they're not doing as well as we need," Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said regarding the entire list of 47 schools citywide that are struggling academically. The DOE releases a list every year of schools that must improve or risk closure, but this year the list is out weeks earlier than before. "It's what we promised," Walcott said, as part of an effort to promote the schools' working with the DOE to improve test scores and other measures of academic achievement.
The chancellor's comments came during a question and answer session at a track and field event for public school students Thursday. At the event, he talked with students about the merits of hard work, good exercise and high performance, but those themes echoed his messages for the 47 schools on the list of academically challenged institutions.
"We're working to improve the overall quality of education for students. That's what this is about," Walcott said.
A simple analysis of the list by PIX11 News showed one glaring coincidence: three of the nine schools in Manhattan on the list are within 250 feet of one another. In fact, two of those three schools, the Frederick Douglass Academy II Middle, and Wadleigh High School, are in the recently remodeled Neo-Gothic building mentioned earlier in this story. It's located on 114th Street between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. and Frederick Douglass Blvd.
One block away, on 113th Street between the same two boulevards, is Opportunity Charter School, which is also on the list of schools at risk of being shut down.
"That's stupid," a woman who identified herself as living on the block between the South Harlem school buildings for 30 years said. "The children of this neighborhood rely on that school," she said, referring to the Wadleigh High School/Frederick Douglass Academy building, where she had sent her children to school.
Lifelong Harlem residents like her are surprised and disappointed to learn that such a high concentration of schools are potentially on the chopping block. Even though they feel that the presence of their local schools on the endangered list threatens the strength of their community, the schools chancellor says that the list, and it's early release, are meant to improve the communities that the schools serve.
Below is a full list of the 47 schools on the list of schools at risk of closure:
Bronx: Samuel Gompers Career And Technical Education High School Gateway School For Environment Research and Technology Herbert H. Lehman High School Jane Addams High School For Academic Careers Fordham Leadership Academy For Business and Technology Grace Dodge Career And Technical Education High School Academy For Scholarship And Entrepreneurship P.S. 277 New Millennium Business Academy Middle School M.S. 142 John Philip Sousa Aspire Preparatory Middle School Academic Leadership Charter School Bronx Academy of Promise
Brooklyn: Academy Of Business And Community Development Freedom Academy High School Juan Morel Campos Secondary School Frederick Douglass Academy IV International Arts Business School Cypress Hills Collegiate Preparatory School Brooklyn Collegiate: A College Board School Satellite Three P.S. 256 Benjamin Banneker Knowledge And Power Preparatory Academy VII P.S. 019 Roberto Clemente P.S. 022 P.S. 161 The Crown School for Law and Journalism Middle School For The Arts I.S. 171 Abraham Lincoln P.S. 298 Dr. Betty Shabazz General D. Chappie James Elementary General D. Chappie James Middle School J.H.S. 296 The Halsey School Williamsburg Charter School
Manhattan: Legacy School For Integrated Studies Washington Irving High School High School Of Graphic Communication Arts Manhattan Theatre Lab High School Wadleigh Secondary School For The Performing & Visual Arts Frederick Douglass Academy II Middle School Future Leaders Institute Charter School Opportunity Charter School P.S. 137 John L. Bernstein
Queens: Law, Government And Community Service High School P.S. 215 Lucretia Mott P.S. 181 Brookfield Peninsula Preparatory Academy
Staten Island: P.S. 014 Cornelius Vanderbilt
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