We interrupt our non-stop coverage of the proposed UFT contract (at least partially) to bring you some other education news. Jamaica High School has lost its final attempt at getting a reprieve from the new Chancellor and Mayor.
Regular readers know the community has fought hard to save our 122 year old storied school.
Unfortunately, we received the word this month that our final valiant effort to save Jamaica High School has been rejected by the Chancellor's office. Thanks to the amazing community activist Jackie Forrestal's lead, we were able to put together a fantastic coalition of elected officials, civic leaders and school leaders to try to convince the new Chancellor to save our 122 year old school.
Jamaica was slated for closure in 2010 but was temporarily saved by a lawsuit. As one of Joel Klein's final acts as Chancellor, he decided to phase out our school a second time at the end of 2010. We have been slowly downsizing since that time but never giving up our dream of keeping the school alive.
In January of 2014 (Jamaica's last year), our fully functioning School Leadership Team wrote a highly detailed proposal on how Jamaica could still exist in September. Councilmember Karen Koslowitz, new Borough President Melinda Katz, Assembly-member David Weprin and others lobbied Chancellor Carmen Farina strongly on behalf of Jamaica being saved. The local Community Board unanimously passed a resolution in support. We had major momentum behind us.
Principal Enric Kendall had a meeting with Deputy Chancellor Phil Weinberg in March. Kendall also met Chancellor Farina. Weinberg toured the building back then and visited some of us. It looked as though we had a chance to keep a piece of the underutilized building for a reconstituted smaller Jamaica High School. However, in the end the same deafness to the wishes of the community that plagued us in the Bloomberg years continued under the new regime. We recently found out they would not be starting a new Jamaica High School or keeping what is left of the old one.
As for the UFT, it appears they just abandoned the lawsuit they filed back in 2011 to save Jamaica and many other closing schools. I can't say I'm surprised by these results but I am truly disappointed.
We did our best ladies and gentlemen but in the end it seems very little has changed with Mayor de Blasio as compared to Mayor Bloomberg when it comes to the schools except they didn't close any schools this year.
I believe their strategy next year might be to threaten closure if schools don't agree to become "charter schools lite" that can basically ignore the contract under the Mulgrew-Farina agreement. Why else would teachers agree to throw away their contract in the so called PROSE schools that have been proposed in the new contract?
I want to thank everyone who was involved in the fight for Jamaica at any point. No other closing school that I know of made it this far in terms of possibly rising from the ashes.